The five stages of occupancy grief

There are many articles, studies and direct conversations regarding the state of the aged care industry today. One of the biggest pain points for providers is financial. Regular surveys such at the StewartBrown Benchmarking Reports highlight the significant fiscal impacts particularly as they relate to the cost of staffing, often to achieve compliance rather than impact direct resident care, and the loss of revenue when occupancy takes a hit.

We regularly work with clients across a range of projects and one such issue that commonly crops up is occupancy. Overall there is a preference to stay at home and in some areas intense competition results in significant oversupply of stock. That said, there is a market for everyone.

Throughout many of our occupancy projects we work with clients going through the well documented stages of grief.

Our take on occupancy stages of grief, with apologies to Elisabeth Kubler Ross and David Kessler, are outlined below.


“It’s just been a bad few months.” Yes it has.

“We have had a lot of deaths.” Agreed, but in residential aged care there …

Read More

Challenging times in a rapidly changing Home Care market

Growth in package numbers & growth in client complexity

This week brings the release of 10,000 home care packages in response to the Aged Care Royal Commission Interim Report. The packages will be predominately high care; and will tip the proportion of high care packages to over 50%. Skilful business planning is required to ensure a provider is well-positioned to maximise this growth opportunity.

The growth strategy needs to accommodate both an overall growth in service volume and high growth in demand for high care packages. The skill base, knowledge, technology platform, workforce, equipment and governance model need to be revised in transitioning to caring for a higher volume of clients and a higher proportion of frail older people with complex needs.

It is not a case of just doing more; each provider must reshape their care and service model to support and increasingly frail elderly cohort of older Australians who now have the option to remain at home.

An increasingly competitive market place

Since 2016 the number of Approved Providers of Home Care Packages has more than doubled. Private …

Read More

Proactively identifying the risk of non-compliance in aged care services

The Aged Care Royal Commission hearings this week highlighted the importance of leadership understanding and acting on the risk factors that when left unmanaged lead to non-compliance.

The Ideal Consultancy has developed a risk identification tool specifically designed to provide organisational leadership with a clear understanding of the impact of multiple risk factors at a facility level. Over the past ten years the tool has consistently identified the risk of non-compliance giving providers the opportunity to pre-emptively address these risks. It is not the presence of a single risk factor, rather the combination of these that heightens risk. The emergence of some risks may be insidious or overlooked.

Documenting the risk factors in a single tool provides clarity for Board, Executive and Service leadership about the issues that need to be mitigated. Some factors may have been known and some such as building projects are considered favourably. However, all have an impact on the capacity to manage and address governance requirements.

The tool is simple to use. Information is gathered at a facility level and the results provide a clear …

Read More

Occupancy how to

We get many calls from people seeking a “quick fix” or some “training” thinking that the answer lies in a quick sales workshop at the cheapest possible price. Ideal regularly works with #agedcare providers looking to improve their business performance, and we get great results. But there is no quick fix. And every unoccupied bed is costing the business a lot of money.

Would you like to know what works?

While I can genuinely say every client IS different, we do have a structured approach to assisting organisations improve their position.

Step 1 – we critically look at the current situation. This includes an independent review which is essential to removing any internal bias.

The metrics that we measure have been developed over the past ten years and consistently demonstrate the important factors that a provider or new entrant should be looking at. We recommend that you identify the right catchment, review the demographic profile of the catchment, the actual supply and demand rather than government planning ratios, financial metrics, undertake a competitive analysis using a proven assessment methodology, pricing, …

Read More

ACFA 7th annual report

On July 4 the Aged Care Financing Authority (ACFA) released it’s seventh Report on Funding and Financing in the Aged Care Sector[1].

If you don’t have time to read the full report, The Ideal Consultancy provides a snapshot of some of the information within the report. The information presented relates to FY 2017-18 and generally compares with the previous financial year unless otherwise stated.

Residential Aged Care

There were 886 Approved Providers, down from 902 Approved Providers in 2016-17, running 207,142 operational places compared to 200,689 the previous year.

There are 31.603 provisional places yet to be made operational and 7,802 places offline. 1,371 places had been surrendered or lapsed.

Of all places 80% are single rooms with an ensuite, up from 77% in the previous year.


Size of Provider % of Providers % of all PLaces 1 Facility 63% 21% 2-6 Facilities 28% 23% 7-19 Facilities 7% 25% 20+ Facilities 2% 31%


occupancy and Access

Occupancy continues to decline with a national average of 90.3% against 91.8% in 2016-17 and 92.4% in 2015-16.

In relation …

Read More

ACRC – Bringing together ‘ordinary people’

From the desk of Louise Greene.

Last Friday morning I took the opportunity, along with my Ideal Co-Director Fiona Somerville, to attend the Aged Care Royal Commission public session in Maidstone (metropolitan Melbourne). So along with 300 other people I made my way to a reception centre to hear 20 people make public submissions about their experiences of and aspirations for the aged care system. Heart wrenching stuff to listen to service users and family members talk about their experiences – the room was silent.

The need for aged care services can happen to any family at any time – it is a socially equalising experience. I had a similar feeling to when I attended jury duty where ’ordinary people’ are randomly selected from the electoral roll and brought together.

So many of the experiences described reflected my experience of the aged care system over the ten-year period in caring for my mother. The frustration of dealing with the system, constantly changing care staff, fee complexity and inefficiency of the home care package providers. The incredible shortage of staff in …

Read More

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 …

Read More

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 …

Read More

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.

Read More

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 …

Read More