Networking. The new aged care marketing.

It takes seconds. It’s incredibly convenient. Simply type in a key term into Google search and an endless list of answers is presented.

Yet this is not necessarily always the case for people in need of aged care services. As people come to need aged care support, whether in residential care or in-home care, they often turn to their local council for practical advice and solutions.

Local councils have done well to position themselves as the community’s central information hub. As the ageing population continues to expand, councils are even more geared up to provide confused consumers with a breadth of aged care support and services. In fact, councils such as Glen Eira have implemented a five year ageing strategy designed to keep older people active and engaged in community life.

The aged providers that enjoy a high level of visibility among councils, specifically among those who work in aged care, are likely to be recommended. This will at least ensure aged care providers maintain a flow of enquires and maintain a healthy waiting list.

Aged care providers have long understood that building and maintaining strong relationships with local government is critical – mostly in negotiating the use of land for aged care or gaining approval for a development.

Therefore providers need to think more strategically about why engaging councils is important. Start thinking beyond ‘what’s in it for us’ to ‘what’s in it for them’? Remembering of course that the political level of local government – the Council – often has different objectives that the administrators. Councillors are elected to represent ratepayers in their wards (excepting the City of Melbourne which doesn’t have a ward system) and they spend a lot of time talking to citizens about what is getting done and what will get done (with their votes…). Given that around 20-30 per cent of ratepayers are over 65 years of age, councillors like talking about aged care: just share the right information.

It’s also important that aged care providers understand their role in the community; local councils ultimately want to align with organisations that are recognised as community assets.

The providers that look for ways to meet broader council aged care objectives are better placed to secure beneficial relationships with councils. It’s time for aged care providers to proactively network with this valuable stakeholder.

Image credit: avaDarlene, Flickr Creative Commons