First the aged care sector eagerly awaited the draft recommendations from the Productivity Commission’s (PC) inquiry into aged care.
Once the document was released and examined stakeholders, keen for reform, then channeled their energies into telling the commission what recommendations they wanted changed and what should remain the same.
Now, with the final report in the public domain, the sector looks to Canberra for a formal policy response.
And as the Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler, travels around the country talking to ‘the people’ about what the government should do, the sector persistently lobbies the federal government for reform.
But according to CEO of Benetas, Sandra Hills, there’s a whole lot more for providers to do than just campaign for change. What aged and community care organisations should be doing now, she writes (below), is preparing for the future, so that when that call for change does come from government, providers will be reform-ready.
Above: CEO of Benetas, Sandra Hills
What are you waiting for?
I don’t know about you, but I hate wasted opportunities! I continually ask myself if there’s something I could be doing to make better use of my time.
While acknowledging this habit is not for everyone, it is a useful philosophy to bear in mind following the release of the PC's Caring for Older Australians inquiry report.
Now that we have sufficiently recovered from the excitement of the final document’s release, it is worthwhile considering what is most productive and/or best use of our organisations’ resources while we await the government’s response.
Even if only a small number of the commission’s recommendations are accepted, any astute business manager would be looking for opportunities. They’d be developing strategies to meet the government’s focus on: healthy ageing; choice; control and flexibility; financial sustainability; promoting independence; access; and increasing the quality of care received.
Whatever the size or type of your aged care organisation, here are a few ideas to make good use of this time:
1) Governance responsibilities
Have you provided your board of directors with a sufficient amount and depth of information to allow them to actively participate in discussions about the possible impacts for your organisation?
2) Strategic directions
Has your board and management team reviewed your strategies, directions, priorities, actions and timelines in light of the key recommendations (and the major areas of focus for government)?
3) Turning strategy into action
Consider what your organisation will look like in the future. What might you do more or less of? Are there any new geographic areas that you could target?
4) New services/ business
We know older people will require greater choice, control and flexibility in the future. Has your business thought about where the gaps in services and products might be and opportunities this presents for your business?
Do you know what your competitive edge is and how you will maintain high service levels? Now is the time to overhaul your approach to customer service and marketing.
Have you developed a plan for your workforce and does it identify strategies to support the way your business will look in the future? For example, what skills and capabilities will you need from staff and how will you transition to this?
7) Financial literacy
Do your managers understand the key drivers of the business, including suitable KPIs, and how to monitor and improve on your current results? Do you have a sound understanding of the history of bonds received such as details of amounts obtained from periodic payments, lump sum or a combination of these?
8) Long-term cash flow, projections and financing options
Do you have long term cash flow projections that support your strategic directions? Have you clearly articulated you financial objectives looking at a range of funding instruments?
9) Risks and opportunities assessment
It’s a great time to undertake a risk and opportunities assessment, taking into account if some or all of the PC’s recommendations are accepted.
10) Communication strategy
How will you communicate with your staff, volunteers and supporters any changes or developments that occur?
While this may appear to be a fairly demanding list of tasks, taking the time and effort to prepare now for changes in the future will ensure you ‘make hay while the sun shines’.
We’ll be ready and rearing to go when the eagerly anticipated response from the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler arrives.
CEO of Benetas