Embedding shared value into one of Australia’s largest aged care providers.
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Opal Aged Care is one of Australia’s largest residential aged care providers and growing rapidly in response to the needs of an ageing population. Opal operates 72 homes in four states, caring for a diverse socio-demographic mix of older people and their families.
Under the leadership of its chairman, Mr Peter Shergold, the company had signalled its intention to apply shared value in its future development; that is, being strategic about achieving social and environmental impact through sustainable business growth.
Working closely with the executive team over two years, Ellis Jones supported and guided Opal as it reorientated business strategy.
Our work comprised:
- Social purpose definition: development of a narrative, based on the company’s philosophy and activities (that is, evidence) that immediately gave leaders and employees a confident platform to have conversations with families and peers about private aged care (as opposed to not-for-profit).
- Customer research: a quantitative study to determine brand perception, attitudes towards aged care, the path to purchase, and the needs and preferences of older people and their families in four Australian states.
- Market research: assessment of the brand and value propositions of other leading aged care providers, as well as marketing activity, spend and strategic partnerships.
- Impact mapping: research conducted with different business units to identify initiatives, measures and aggregate areas in which Opal has an impact on local communities. From this impact domain, subsets of impact areas and measures were established.
- 3-year roadmap: to build team performance, measurement capacity and impact initiatives.
- Executive capacity-building workshops: introduce the shared value concept, standardise knowledge and discuss how it might look in the work of different teams.
- Shared value taskforce: set up, governance and facilitation of a senior leadership taskforce with whom initiatives were designed and outcomes shared.
- Case study development: communication to the workforce on what shared value creation looks like in practice.
- Business strategy: development of a whole-of-business ‘strategic approach to shared value’ as well as business unit strategy evolution support, and action planning, to align with the board mandated strategic review.
- Impact plans: working with the taskforce to identify and prioritise initiatives.
- Communication strategy and internal communications: collateral to establish the company’s social purpose and focus on impact among employees, suppliers, residents and families.
- Co-design workshops: design and facilitation of a social innovation program engaging health services professionals and family members to understand the customer journey, and identify opportunities to create value.
A range of important outcomes were achieved during the significant body of work.
- Shared value is a framework for strategic decision-making. It is now a lens by which executives and corporate office teams consider operations, challenges and opportunities. It is also a new perspective from which employees see their roles, work and purpose.
- Opal has a clear definition of how its operations relate to the world the company inhabits. It can clearly link the business reality to the social and environmental benefits it achieves. Social impact is not a perceived weakness – it is a strength.
- Co-design has identified value chain improvements in the transition to aged care – specifically in the relationships and linkages to health services professionals. The outcomes include increased referrals (leading to occupancy uplift) and improved wellbeing of families and older people.
- Procurement tiered suppliers and put in place plans to nurture social innovation as well as standardise shared value reporting. Impact was immediately achieved via transition to an Indigenous company providing office supplies.
- Modelling was initiated on the design of a green and healthy building that would set new benchmarks in the sector, and have measurable impact on resident and employee health and wellbeing.
- Preparing Opal with a comprehensive narrative and multiple data points to respond to the senate inquiry into the financial and tax practices of for-profit aged care providers.