Managing change in aged care and making it stick.

With the upcoming changes to home care services, managing change in aged care will be a key indicator of success in 2017.

The aged care sector has been undergoing change for several years now. Significant reforms were announced for home care services in the 2015-16 Budget, which will be rolled out from February 2017, allowing consumers to take control of their home care services. Funding for a home care package will follow the consumer, allowing individuals to choose a provider that suits them and giving them the ability to change providers at any time.

These are big changes for the aged care industry and with February just six months away, many providers are implementing new service models to ensure that they are ready for the move to a consumer-centred model of service provision.

The way providers manage these changes, for their staff and consumers could be the difference between success and failure. Having a structured and planned approach to change management will ensure that providers are ready for the change ahead, come February 2017.

Change management.

There are many theories of change management, but most originate from Harvard Business School Professor and the founder of management consulting firm Kotter International, John Kotter. Kotter spent many years researching why more than 70% of major transformation efforts fail. His research led him to conclude that the key reasons for transformational failure were the lack of a consistent, holistic approach to change and an inability to effectively engage staff in the change process. To address both issues, Kotter developed an eight-step process for successful change management, outlined below:

Kotter’s eight-step process to successful change.

  1. Create urgency
  2. Form a powerful coalition
  3. Create a vision for change
  4. Communicate the vision
  5. Empower action
  6. Create quick wins
  7. Build on the change
  8. Make it stick

For aged care providers, this model offers a clear framework for managing change and making it stick in the lead up to home care reform.

Applying Kotter’s approach to managing change in aged care.

The first three steps in Kotter’s model are all about creating the climate for change within an organisation. For aged care providers, this means ensuring that everyone within the organisation understands that change is needed in order to respond to government reforms and to remain viable. It also highlights the need to have the organisation’s leadership team on board, to endorse and create a vision for change.

However, change cannot be enabled by management alone. It’s important to also involve staff from across the organisation, to empower action, build advocacy and drive change. This will achieve the twin goals of engaging staff in the change process and communicating the vision for change across the organisation.

As the change process progresses, it’s important to track and celebrate successful activities, both big and small, so that the organisation can see that the process is producing results. Nothing motivates more than success; having some short-term goals that create “quick wins” will keep everyone motivated and engaged. The success of a change program, however, will be felt over time, so building on small wins to achieve the long-term change goal is important.

Finally, aged care providers will need to make the new changes part of the core of their organisation in order to make them truly “stick”.

Communicating change.

From February 2017, home care services within the aged care sector will be significantly altered. For aged care providers, communicating changes to their customers should not be seen as an issues management problem. Rather, it’s an opportunity for providers that should be viewed as a positive engagement and business development exercise that, as a natural outcome, will mitigate staff and customer concerns.

Talk to us about managing and communicating change in your organisation. 

Image by Jill Allyn Stafford via Flickr: “mathplane”