Home care providers are failing to effectively engage with intergenerational markets, an industry conference has heard.
Kevin McCreton, managing director of Catalyst Research, told the LASA National Congress that providers need to engage not only with the elderly person receiving their services but also with the baby boomers who are their adult children, and even the millennials who represent their grandchildren.
He said while research has shown that baby boomers are the ones who see value in paying for home care support services for their ageing parents, “increasingly it’s the grandkids who are going to provide the ink between grandparents and technology, whether it’s in the lounge room or connectiong with services,” he said.
McCreton said the home care market changed fundamentally in February 2017 when government funding became consumer directed.
In response to the market shift sparked by the changes, Catalyst surveyed 4000 Australians about factors associated with decision making for home care services. Half of the cohort were the “kids” – those aged 45-65 – and the rest the “parents”.
The kids are coming
In a presentation at the conference on Monday titled “The Kids are Coming”, McCreton used the research, and a subsequent study released in March, to provide some insights on how providers can understand and form sustainable relationships with each of the three generations.
He said Catalyst’s research highlighted significant generational differences. Older Australians, for example, saw themselves as coping well with just a few services. But while this group demonstrated frugality and a reluctance to “waste” money on themselves, the post-war baby boomers were open to using and paying for services.
For example, while 22 per cent of “parents” said they would use home support, 51 per cent of “kids” said their parents could do with it.
Fewer than one in 10 parents considered clinical care, such as help with medication, as as relevant service to accept, compared to one in five kids, and twice as many kids (41 per cent) as parents (22 per cent) thought meal preparation was a relevant service.
In terms of accepting in-home nursing, 23 per cent of parents said they’d accept it compared to 40 per cent of kids.
“The lesson here is that engaging the kids as part of the acquisition process is part of a potential route to selling bundle services as well as building a sticker relationship with the family,” he said.
“There may be an opportunity in involving kids in how your support services can help mum and dad,” he said.
The guilt factor
Additional research had shown that “kids” felt guilt about outsourcing services, and providers would benefit from reassuring them that “maybe it’s okay to let go a little”.
Providers also needed to recognise the relief “kids” felt in finding the right support for elderly parents.
“What is your organisation doing to upskill your teams to have productive conversations with kids about the support you can provide to their parents and also lighten their load?” he asked delegates.
“It’s important to build cross generational connections. It’s often up to the kids to kindly say to mum and dad, ‘it’s okay, you’re older now and you need more help and it’s okay to use these extra services that are available’.
“Home care providers may wish to partner with kids to convey the message.”
Grandchildren, meanwhile, were digital natives who were used to finding information quickly and making decisions based the number of “thumbs-up” an organisation might be able to show.
“Make it easier for grandkids to find you, and see you’re well regarded in the community,” he suggested.
The conference also heard from Linda Murray of aged care education and advice consultants Aged Care Gurus, who said she had found many home care providers lacked clear sales strategies, seemed reluctant to cross-sell services and were “fragile” about offering discounts.
“Home care providers are typically not engaging with potentially 121,000 customers (who are sitting on the home care waiting list queue),” she said.
“What we found is we have very fine, well meaning people who go out to visit the consumers,but they’re not being taught or supported with a clear information strategy.
“Consistently what we’re seeing is, they’re listening to the consumer, they’re talking through what the potential consumer’s needs are, but they don’t really have a way of providing insight into the product that they have available.”