Shared Value in Aged Care: Beyond the Individual
5 July 2017 at 8:53 am
Aged care providers need to re-think services and re-define customers and employees, to create a system that meets the needs of diverse older Australians, their families and the broader community, writes Janine Yeates, in the last in a three-part series exploring the opportunities of shared value across three different sectors.
Aged care is progressively evolving from a government funded service to a competitive (and one day deregulated) market.
Reform will take time, but providers should be looking at their organisation now to ensure they are ready for more change in the years ahead. Moreover, with change comes opportunity for improving both business and societal results.
Forces for change
Australians are living longer and the impact of an ageing population is significant, demanding social and economic changes.
Ongoing government reform, deregulation and a commitment to the Aged Care Roadmap, continues to move the sector towards a sustainable market-based, consumer driven aged care system.
We now have not-for-profit, private, publicity listed and government providers offering services to older Australians. Despite the difference in mission and ownership, every provider – or policy maker – should be working to continuously create more social value for older people, their families, the communities they operate in and society as a whole.
In an increasingly competitive marketplace, providers need to change how they define customers and stakeholders, create increasing value, differentiate through branding and service delivery, and target niche market segments. And they need to make money. Money pays wages. It pays for innovation. And it pays for the best health and wellbeing outcome for clients, residents, families and communities.
Opportunities for shared value
- Improve individual and family wellness.
Opportunities to create individual and family wellness go beyond clinical care, and start long before someone begins receiving aged care services or enters an aged care facility.
For providers, it means attracting customers that you are best placed to serve with a set of services that have measurable impact. The more customers, the more impact, the more sustainable your business.
And through wider community interaction and making aged care part of the conversation, providers can understand and measure how aged care impacts on the health and resilience of the wider community.
Once the impact has been created it provides the evidence and the narrative with which to communicate social value and build a different relationship with the communities in which you operate.
- Meet the needs of under-serviced communities.
The attitudes and needs of older Australians are incredibly (and increasingly) diverse across religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age, culture and descent. “Non-mainstream” older people tend to have more negative experiences and are often misunderstood and under-serviced by the many organisations they interact with.
With over 200 aged care providers operating in Australia, targeting services to cater for currently underserved consumers represents a major opportunity for market differentiation, reputation building and deep loyalty.
- Create a strong workforce.
The number of people aged 65 and over has more than tripled in the past 50 years. As our population ages dramatically in the next 30 years, the pressure on the aged care sector to cater for ever-increasing numbers and preferences will impact providers.
People are central to the aged care value proposition. If workforce expansion does not track demand – in terms of volume and diversity of services/preferences – then this will impact on the ability of both providers and therefore the community to provide quality aged care services.
One of the key barriers to growing the future workforce is that traditionally the sector has not done the best job of promoting the benefits of working in aged care. However, few (if any) industries offer comparable job certainty and choice to aged care.
Through investment in improving workforce skills, providers can offer and deliver better services that meet the changing wants and needs of older people. Furthermore, there is an opportunity for providers to take the lead in attracting the future aged care workforce by promoting care as an attractive career choice.
Service and product innovation will accelerate in a newly competitive aged care system. Beyond this, many more opportunities exist for providers to contribute, and measure their contribution, to creating an aged care system that is affordable for individuals, fiscally sustainable for government and the community.
About the author: Janine Yeates is a senior account manager in the health and ageing team at Ellis Jones, an integrated research, strategy, communications and design agency based in Melbourne. Yeates’ expertise lies in older markets, having spent almost a decade working with health and social care organisations in both Australia and the UK. At Ellis Jones, Yeates manages multiple accounts across older markets, guiding businesses through the changeover to Customer Directed Care with research, strategy, branding, messaging and the development of B2B and B2C communications materials.