The simultaneous impacts felt by The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety and Covid-19, coupled with already evolving legislative and funding structures and a new profile of aged care clients, has presented a significant transformation. As a result, it is now time to reimagine what aged care means; for providers, recipients and all stakeholders involved in the market.
We created a framework called the Epicor Care Quadrant to initiate and guide this discussion, which we will unpack and explore in this eBook. Furthermore, as the title suggests, this eBook will also discuss why it is critically important that you explore the future role of home care in the broader aged care market and what that may mean for your organisation.
The Epicor Care Quadrant
In years gone by, the aged care market was predominately operated by not-for-profit organisations, including religious, community-based providers and charitable organisations. By virtue of their nature, one would not expect marketing strategy to be a core competence, let alone an inherent area of focus. Developing profitable client acquisition strategies doesn’t necessarily square with a community-oriented value system. However, new market entrants and the modern aged care client alike are bringing an ever-present commercial set of eyes to the industry, which poses a fundamental question.
the perspective should be that this process aims at ensuring the aged care client is better off, as are all your organisation’s stakeholders.
Epicor Care Quadrant: Aged Care Client
The inertia created by industry-wide attention on this topic will propel both mandated and voluntary improvements in the quality of care and choice afforded to aged care clients. Therefore, the question is not whether there will be more competitive forces at play in the immediate future. The question is, how do you stand out as a provider that can uniquely provide care that matches your market’s current and future needs?
The leading aged care providers of the decade ahead will be those that specify who their organisation serves. That does not suggest that an organisation should set exclusion criteria and deny care to anyone. Instead, the suggestion is to design your business strategy around ensuring all Epicor Care Quadrant elements work in harmony to deploy your organisation’s core competencies towards meeting the needs and wants of a specified market segment.
Becoming clear on your core competencies and how they align to an addressable market segment is now of the utmost importance.
The Aged Care Financing Authority (ACFA) has stated that to compete in today’s dynamic aged care market, providers must be more responsive to the needs and expectations of their consumers and may also call for new business models to be developed
The baby boomer generation who will dominate the aged care client cohort in the next two decades is wealthier than the generations that preceded them. Baby boomers have experienced significant growth in equity in their homes and were the first generation to receive compulsory superannuation. They can afford better standards of care and are willing to actively seek them out, which in large part also includes a preference to live in their own homes for longer and maintain active lifestyles. Baby boomers have also existed in an era of technology-enabled consumerism. They learned how to be savvier with their buying decisions than their parents and grandparents and have the skills to navigate readily available information online, which puts them in control of their buying decisions.
It is common for people to begin their aged care journey either at home or retirement living and then move to a residential facility as their needs for care increase. That does not suggest that it is imperative that you provide home care, but that you must be clear on your value proposition and how objectively compelling it is compared to the offerings of other aged care providers
Epicor Care Quadrant: Product
For the aged care client, value = benefits received – costs incurred. Therefore, the objective is to deeply understand the benefits the clients desire and to deliver them as optimally as possible, keeping in mind that costs extend beyond the monetary exchange and include time, effort, and risk.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach
The right product mix is one that deploys your organisation’s core competencies toward meeting the needs and wants of a specified market segment, regardless of how widely it spans residential care, home care, and retirement living.
Adding home care services to an existing residential care operation is no longer a unique differentiator. The success of such a broader service mix now hinges on the effective deployment of a total product strategy specific to your aged care client.
Epicor Care Quadrant: Place
Place requirements in a residential care and retirement living context are somewhat self-evident. Key considerations would include: how many locations will you have? Where will these centres be located? What facilities will you have at each centre? What physical products do you need to provide your services, and how will these physical products be procured and stored to ensure the service is reliably delivered?
“Place” considerations should expand to consider the existence of online services and how they meet the needs and wants of the aged care client and that of their support network.
If your organisation elects to provide home care and residential care, the complexity of Place increases. However, despite this complexity, the resultant capacity to deliver value is, in many cases, increased, too, as baby boomers are likely to prefer to remain living in their own homes for as long as possible as they age. Such trends are already self-evident as home care growth is significantly outpacing residential care growth.
Two other key factors should be taken into consideration by aged care providers when defining their strategies. They are the unified aged care program and price transparency.
Epicor Care Quadrant: People
People refer to who is delivering the product mix. Arguably, this is where the greatest challenges lie for aged care providers in the decade ahead.
There are over 366,000 paid workers in aged care and some 68,000 volunteers3. By 2050 the aged care workforce will balloon out to over one million people. Within the next two years alone, the industry will need to attract 3,600 registered nurses and 34,200 personal care workers10. As a result, many aged care providers will be vying for the same prospective employees, which underlines the importance of having a compelling employee value proposition (EVP).
The age of employees is of particular note considering the significant increase in workers needed in the decades ahead, and that many of those under 40 don’t intend to stay in the industry long term.
Epicor Care Quadrant: Processes
With the industry’s depth and breadth of services evolving, providers must focus on maintaining quality, which is particularly challenging when delivering services.
Regardless of whether you have committed, positive, passionate, and experienced employees, processes are what ultimately drive service consistency.
The production and consumption of services occur simultaneously. Whether physiotherapy, personal grooming, podiatry, or other personal services, the service is being provided as clients are receiving it. Therefore, sophisticated processes, to the degree of flowcharting and blueprinting, can assist in maximising client satisfaction. Dissatisfaction, however, occurs when a gap exists between expected and actual benefits. The wider the gap, the greater the propensity for and magnitude of dissatisfaction. To this end, all four Epicor Care Quadrants must work in harmony.
Epicor Care Quadrant: Aged Care Software
Aged care organisations should aspire to have a truly integrated, purpose-built aged care software system that ensures the 4 P’s are effectively deployed in a manner that delivers ongoing value to the aged care client. Ultimately, your aged care software system should provide contextual insights to support adaptations of business strategy in a way that keeps pace with the changing needs and wants of your clients.
Your aged care software needs to be the right fit for your organisation both today and tomorrow.
PwC emphasises that technology solutions will be the key to success for aged care providers in the years ahead. Specifically, they state that digital tools are the foundation upon which a provider’s transformation is built. Furthermore, the Australian Medical Association has stated that the aged care sector should more broadly adopt digital technology and that such uptake should be encouraged and ensured by the Government.
Failing to adopt best-in-class aged care software will, therefore, serve to restrict an organisation’s capacity to compete in the market of tomorrow
The challenge, therefore, for individual providers is whether to endeavour to serve a broad market classification or take a more niche approach. This is a tremendously challenging and trajectory-defining decision, but one that should inspire ingenuity and excitement about the road ahead.