aged care business as usual

While we are waiting for the Aged Care Royal Commission (the Royal Commission) hearings to commence again next week we have taken some time to reflect on the enormous effort some providers have put in to ensure it is “business as usual.”

One of our clients had an extremely busy December and beginning of January preparing its submission for the Royal Commission. Prior to this the organisation had noted a softening in occupancy across the portfolio, and while many providers have been reporting this in metropolitan areas, this organisation decided to do something about it.

Ideal was engaged to analyse each home and work collaboratively to develop an optimal solution to increase occupancy.

With hindsight there were a number of mitigating factors impacting some or all of the sites; some of which included:

Change in personnel at some sites Lack of a centralised repository of key contacts Improved level of amenity at local competitors Increased marketing activity by local competitors Change in pricing Varying degrees of outbound contact Local presentation varied greatly – some homes, while older, were immaculately presented …

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Show me the $ – Seven things providers should be doing right now!

Residential aged care providers are faced with wafer thin and diminishing margins; and in some cases losses.

Every facility must maximise each revenue opportunity and avoid revenue leakage to be sustainable. Diligent ongoing scrutiny, accessing independent specialist advice and ensuring staff have the relevant knowledge and skill-base is mandatory for your business to survive and succeed.

Make sure you leverage expertise from all levels of the business and to look at each facility in its own right to achieve optimal revenue outcome.

Seven things providers should be doing right now!

Have an independent accommodation market appraisal done

There is a market for everyone; you just need to find your niche. An independent market appraisal will determine optimal accommodation price for your service offering in its market.

Accommodation is often undervalued and under-priced. Validate the accommodation offering and identify the appropriate price point in the market. Seek opportunities to increase the value of the accommodation.

Use external independent expertise to do this and update this quarterly, or six-monthly at a minimum.

Identify your optimal financial profile for resident mix

Based …

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meeting the consumer perspective of quality in aged care

Consumer focused surveys and feedback consistently show quality of care and quality staffing are most valued by consumers and their families when looking for care. In a world where consumers are bombarded with information and jargon how do providers engage with consumers and families and stand apart from other providers?

Consumer Experience Reports show the benefits of engaged models that address consumer needs and preferences and meet consumer expectations of quality.

Offering service and care models that consumers/families can understand and describing these in language that resonates with consumers and families sets services apart and provides an ongoing competitive advantage

Consumer focused surveys and feedback consistently show that quality of care and quality staffing are most valued by consumers and their families when looking for care; the second most valued aspect is promoting resident independence and well-being. The most powerful source of information is ‘word of mouth’ from friends, family, facility staff and current residents. Accreditation status is ranked as the most important attribute when choosing a facility; the second highest ranked attribute is food.

In a world where consumers …

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strengthening your business

Not all aged care homes are the same

When we look at results of surveys such as the Stewart Brown Aged Care Financial Performance Survey Sector Report it is make or break time for many in the industry. While there is currently plenty of commentary on the poor results by numbers it is important to look at ways in which an organisation can positively impact its performance.

While there has been recent negative press about aged care, the majority of homes do an absolutely amazing job. Every. Single. Day.

In aged care we are not really good at letting the world know about the difference we make in people’s lives. Making sure potential customers understand the difference between you and “Shady Pines” down the road is critical.

five key steps

In order to best put your organisation or service forward there a some critical steps to ensure you get this right.

Keep up to date with your competition

This is not just a matter of looking at prices on their website but really understanding what your competition is up to.

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oh what a feeling!

Delivering a successful turnaround project is a great feeling!

Mid 2018 we got the SOS from a provider. The Agency had been to one of their homes and things were not great. The provider was disappointed, shocked and upset! It is a dark hour in any business.

Like any tough situation the hardest part is taking the first step. Carefully reviewing the current state of the business, identifying causative factors, developing an action plan, bringing people to address issues, documenting and monitoring progress and continuous review are the tried and true method of achieving change. In summary implementing a continuous improvement framework.

The most urgent tasks were to ensure residents were safe (they were) and to get staff ‘on board’. There is no denying it the first weeks were tough. For things to improve honest and hard conversations were needed and tough actions had to be taken. Key staff needed to be supported and shown how to implement continuous improvement and they needed to be empowered to take charge and make change.

In any ‘turnaround’ project there is a phase …

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The Aged Care Royal Commission and Beyond

The terms of reference for the Royal Commission in to Aged Care have been established, The Honourable Justice Joseph McGrath and Ms Lynelle Briggs AO have been appointed Commissioners. Temporary recruitment is underway for support staff predominantly in Adelaide and a small number nationally.

Royal Commissions run on tight timeframes and an interim report is expected by 31 October 2019. Requests for information from providers may start as early as December 2018 and January 2019. It will pay to be prepared.

The scope of the Royal Commission is vast and the key focus is on the conduct of Approved Providers. There will be many stories that will be hard to hear and the media will take great interest in an organisation where issues are highlighted.

Based on previous Royal Commissions no doubt consumer interest will be high and thousands of submissions will be provided to the Royal Commission.  Consumers are quite simply demanding more and the public will be closely watching as information comes to light.

Understanding the quality of care provided and constantly challenging whether this is adequate or …

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aged care governance

Looking across the facilities that have current or recent non-compliance highlights there is more than the odd ‘blip’ or errant behaviour by ‘the Agency’ going on.

Creating and operating and aged care service that meets the care needs and preferences of residents and attracts and retains high calibre staff is no small task. It requires strong visionary leadership and robust governance and support systems.

In the rapidly changing aged care environment organisations need to identify and effectively respond to intrinsic and extrinsic factors that change and have a cumulative impact. Organisations invest in their governance and compliance frameworks and systems and recruit Board members with significant leadership and governance experience in a range of fields yet unexpectedly experience non-compliance and /or sanction.

The rate of non-compliance and sanctions has more than doubled in the past year. Organisations with a proud history of high quality service provision now find themselves on ‘the naughty list’. The impact is devastating for residents, staff and the organisation. The recovery period is long!

At Executive and Board level aggregated data may provide reassuring reports of …

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restoring stability in aged care

Residential aged care facilities are home to over 200,000 frail older Australians and is one of the country’s rapidly growing employment sectors. Turbulence in the sector has a significant impact on many.

In August 2018 there were 15 residential aged care facilities in Australia deemed to be non-compliant with the Aged Care Standards and two received sanctions; this is on the back of the doubling of both non-compliance and sanctions in the past year. So for many older people, their families and those working in the sector it is a very troubling and distressing time.

Changing resident profile

Those entering care are older and frailer and have increasingly complex care needs. In many cases the older person and their family have been ‘managing’ at home for a long time with support from family, friends, community services and home care packages. The decision to enter care is based on there really being no other feasible alternative care option for the older person and their family that can safely meet their care needs. Often the decision is emotionally gruelling, financially challenging and …

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Identify, Adapt and Deliver

The challenge providers face is to bring all this together in a care model that aligns with their organizational values, resonates with consumers, is financially viable and meets regulatory requirements.

The transition to the Single Quality Framework in aged care with its strong focus on consumers will propel services to look at and modernise their care model. The language of how quality is described changes and the service is accountable to consumers. Adapting to this providers need to rethink their business, care and service model.


Identify your strategy and determine your organisational values. Identify how you want to relate to consumers and engage your staff. Identify your financial imperatives and your market position and potential.

Challenge what you currently do and be open to opportunity and look before you say no!


Adapt through investing in the creation of a model that articulates your values. Embark on creating a culture change that equips you for the future. Be brave and make changes.


Deliver a clearly articulated value proposition that attracts consumers and staff and creates a competitive advantage. …

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identify, adapt and deliver

The theme of this year’s ACSA Conference is Identify, Adapt and Deliver describes how Australian providers need to respond to the continually changing aged care environment.

To thrive in the consumer focused contestable market environment providers need to focus on the consumer experience and re-think their care model, service delivery and consumer engagement from the consumer perspective.

What do consumers want?

The first step is to redefine your offering from a consumer perspective.

Ideal has surveyed potential and current consumers. They want to be in a ‘safe, happy and welcoming environment’ and they want:

Quality care To maintain their independence Quality staffing.

The most valued sources of information are people who currently live or have lived in the home and information from hospital staff, discharge planners and social workers. Information directly from staff at the home and from family and friends is more important and influential than government websites or the home’s website.

When they consider a home the most important factors ranked in order are the quality of food and the dining experience, accreditation status, the range of activities …

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