The media scrutiny and resultant public conjecture around aged care over recent weeks indicates that the commission – expected to take 18 months – is going to be far-reaching and exhaustive. There are also clear signs that it has the potential to deliver some brutal blows to providers in the sector and it will undoubtedly be transformational for the industry. In preparation, providers are being encouraged to develop crisis management plans, seek pre-emptive legal advice and to be ready for reputational impacts. The Prime Minister has warned the public to “brace itself for some difficult stories”. Tension is high – and we’ve only just begun.
But while the main priority of the commission is to focus on improving the quality of care across the sector – particularly for people with disabilities, dementia clients and those in rural, regional and remote areas – there is also a focus on examining the business elements that drive aged care operations, including innovation, technology, workforce investment and capital infrastructure. These elements are key contributors to the strength and sustainability of an aged care service – but they are often second priority considerations in aged care organisations (in comparison to care priorities) when it comes to the level of focus, investment and resources committed. Their inclusion in the context of the Commission’s Terms of Reference is acknowledgement that quality aged care service delivery is only possible when the underlying business is strong.
The Royal Commission is creating opportunities for future-focussed providers
With a focus on business fundamentals such as innovation and technology, the rollout of the Royal Commission creates an opportunity for future-focussed providers to demonstrate how they are thinking ahead in the aged care sector. Through working relationships that we are privileged to share with our remarkable aged care clients, we have witnessed this type of inspired thinking in facilities and boardrooms across the country. We have seen firsthand the outcomes that can be achieved – organisational growth, strategic vision and business model innovation –when teams and boards courageously think outside the square and aspire for better than business as usual.
These are outcomes that every Australian aged care provider can – and should – strive for while there is a window of opportunity to reshape the future of the sector. The commission could be the catalyst that ignites a future-focussed culture in the sector. Alongside the challenges ahead, there is enormous potential. We think the sector and public at large need to “brace for some transformational stories” in Australian aged care.
3 opportunities for your aged care service
- Add INNOVATION as an item to the agendas of all meetings – be it board, management teams, operations or care team meetings. Keeping innovation front and centre in discussions will challenge the thinking and expose opportunities to develop initiatives and programs with an innovation theme. In a recent workshop run with an aged care provider – this pivot in the thinking unleashed a raft of ideas and brainstorming around the value of intangible assets (such as brand and supply chain strength) and how this could be leveraged to enhance revenue and service inputs.
- Complete a STOCKTAKE of your customer advocacy and engagement with streamlined tech tools like Net Promoter Scores. These tools provide a balanced scorecard element that will assist with understanding customer loyalty, retention and endorsement. Having an easily translatable customer advocacy measure has been instrumental in helping a major not-for-profit provider to integrate client feedback into their strategic discussions. Customer advocacy is now a key consideration in the design and ongoing implementation of programs.
- PRIORITISE your technology plans and dedicate time and focus to identifying how and where technology can strengthen your aged care service. The aged care sector is under-developed in technology readiness, adoption and usage. There is no question that technology is a key factor in improving the quality of care for the ageing Australian population. By ensuring that your service is technology and innovation ready – you will be on the front foot for change.