The release of the Labor Government’s Living Longer. Living Better plan will result in many aged care providers potentially reworking their existing care model plan, in an effort to become even more client driven.
Our response to the Productively Commission’s draft report outlined the challenges aged care providers would face if the proposed changes went ahead. This included the need to provide consumers with a clear pathway to accessing aged care support services.
Aged care provider, Benetas, has begun the shift. This provider recognises the impact ‘choice’ and ‘independence’ will have on the ageing community and they’ve also figured out the struggles consumers currently face when confronted with the inevitable and daunting prospect of needing aged care support.
Benetas has answered the question that many aged care providers struggle to answer…
“I need aged care support where do I go?”
Benetas has begun offering a consultation service to families to help them navigate the aged-care maze. For $540, the company now has a six-month consultative service, covering everything from advice on caring for a frail loved one in the home to financial and medical planning. Everything is tailored to the needs of the individual. The cost for this service could be taken out of the Home Care Package (HCP). Smart move Benetas!
Behind this framework is the notion of ‘planning’ for the future: don’t wait until you or your loved one hits a crisis point and the only workable solution is to enter residential aged care. It means that people can age well; they’re empowered to do so, in the comfort of their own home.
As the government promises to inject $65 million into HCP and dementia care, it seems this shift to Consumer Directed Care is here to stay.
Arcare’s Admissions Manager, Lynn Slater, provides key insight into how the shift in aged care will impact service delivery.
“As a private provider, we strongly believe that the market should drive the value of the accommodation bond so we welcome the means-test system, which will ensure consumers being assessed against what they can afford. It’s a fairer way to ensure equality for all individuals requiring aged care support. Arcare is keen to see the finer details in this report, because at this stage, it’s still unclear how exactly the new funding model will impact aged care providers,” said Lynn.
To prepare for the changes in aged care, Arcare has implemented a very effective strategy. Like Benetas, Arcare understand the impact a more consumer driven market will have on business development.
“We have changed our entire model to be consumer driven and sales focused. Our admissions team are trained to assess and determine the eligibility of a potential client. In the past, providers have relied on potential clients coming straight to them. We’re now focusing on a marketing and business development strategy which places the consumer at the forefront,” said Lynn.
Another change aged care providers need to be gearing up for is the potential introduction of a Gateway system.
It is still unclear as to how the introduction of a single seamless entry point into aged care will impact aged care service providers. If the Gateway service is operated by the government, how will this impact aged care providers? It may mean aged care providers rapidly boosting their profile, in a bid to be ‘top of mind’ during the decision making process.
Other factors aged care providers can’t afford to ignore include the government’s promise to introduce an Aged Care website and national 1800 hotline.
One of the standout features of this proposed website is the push for full transparency in aged care service offerings, which will be benchmarked against a rating system. Consumers will be provided with a single avenue for all their aged care needs and as a result, it’s even more imperative that aged care providers are distinguishable, reputable and trustworthy.
If aged care providers are competing for clientele, we may see aged care providers developing new product offerings
, in a bid to reach their consumers – just like Benetas.
Residential aged care.
In terms of residential aged care providers, homes that have been ‘built or significantly refurbished’ after 20 April 2012 will be eligible for an increase in accommodation supplement, from $32.58 to $52.84. The details on would be eligible for this funding still needs to be developed. It will at least mean our ageing Australians have access to more state-of-the-art facilities.
Since the government has pledged to build more residential aged care homes, we should also expect to see the larger financially robust aged care providers maximising on this opportunity.
Doutta Galla’s Chief Executive Officer, Mark Anderson, also supports the push for fairer outcomes for all people needing aged care services.
“Introducing bonds based on the actual cost of accommodation to all levels of care, with transparency in the setting process, will mean the gap between the disadvantaged and advantaged may soon be closing. Those better off will no longer be able to “jump the queue” into residential care,” said Mark.
What will happen to the smaller aged care providers?
Smaller providers simply will not have the funding capacity to do this. Instead they may need to consider what type of unique extra services they will be able to offer to their consumers. Maintaining a strong community profile will be critical.
Another notable feature in the plan is the promise to support those on the frontline – employees. The decision to invest $1.2b into a workforce strategy will support the existing workforce issues, most notably attracting and keeping talented staff, particularly nurses, personal care assistants and care workers. Aged care providers will continue to compete for the best possible employees. It’s crucial that providers work to position themselves as an employer of choice, with a key point of difference.
One of the issues we’re disappointed the report didn’t focus on is the need to reduce social isolation particularly for older people living in their own home. Over the next 10 years, more older people will be living in their own homes which increases the likelihood of this chronic problem worsening. Social inclusion is a critical factor in maintaining wellness. We will continue to work with providers to promote the value of using social media to enhance community connections within the ageing sector. We expect recipients of Home Care packages will consider this channel to remain connected to their family, friends and community. However it will be up to providers to recognise its benefits first.
The Labor Government’s pledge to commit $3.7 billion over 5 years through this plan fundamentally promotes improved and fairer outcomes for ageing Australians, carers and the aged care workforce.
However all these changes will occur gradually – only $577 million is additional funding and only $55 million is budgeted for the next financial year. Aged care providers will need to embrace the gradual shift in the sector. Preparing for change needs to happen now.