With Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s announcement of more than $500 million for aged care, Australia is taking a hard look at its care system and taking important steps towards providing Australians with a better care experience, writes Emma Pate.
While the Royal Commission’s work continues, a number of its interim findings are consistent with the following trends and predictions that providers should be focused on and prepared to tackle in 2020:
1.From Care to Wellness: an increased focus on the social determinants of health
In 2020, the conversation around social isolation as predictive of poor client outcomes will take root. This sentiment is trending for good reason, and health systems are beginning to organise around the truth embedded in it. The Royal Commission in Australia is formalising recommendations to enforce care in the context of client goals – showing that they too are dialed into the effectiveness of whole-person care.
Care plans will need to fit this new perspective, with all clinical and non-clinical interventions dictated by a client goal.
2.New strategic priority: the financial wellbeing of care workers
The Interim Report calls out the fact that the quality of care clients receive heavily relies on the working conditions, engagement and overall workplace quality of the paid carers.
A critical measure for caregiver satisfaction is having a consistent amount of work. With caregiver churn a serious challenge, our data shows that that consistency of hours is the single greatest predictor of retention.
In the context of gloomy global economic outlooks, one silver lining for the home care sector is that demand will stay strong even if overall retail employment demand subsides. What is true, regardless of shifting labour markets, is that investing in employee financial wellbeing is never a poor strategy when it comes to the clients they serve.
3.Mix of payer sources becoming more important
From Washington to Ottawa to Canberra to Wellington, an important trend is a diversification of payer sources.
In the US, we see private duty providers getting into Medicaid and long-term care insurance. In Canada, the province of Ontario is creating comprehensive health teams, through which service providers work directly with hospitals and other entities within the healthcare system. Private pay franchisees – who may have been locked out of the public pay market previously – are looking to access public dollars through the health teams.
Here, in Australia, more aged care providers (traditionally funded under the Home Care Packages and the Commonwealth Home Support Program) are getting into disability under NDIS. A rising tide of private pay agencies are performing publicly funded care indirectly by signing brokerage deals with package owners.
There’s reason to be bullish on the societal benefits of these trends. Private pay providers have traditionally excelled at customer experience while their public colleagues carry a data-driven view of patient outcomes. Who wouldn’t want the best of both worlds?
4.When it comes to technology, it takes a village
Australia’s leaders know that it is high time to ensure access to affordable, high-quality aged care services that are centred around the needs of people and not organisations. They wish to allow people who need care to exercise greater choice, control and independence. While we await the report’s findings and their impact on organisations that offer home, aged, community and disability services, there is no need to wait to implement solutions to help realise client-driven care.
Providers should look to an end-to-end solution for delivering home care with cloud-based architecture that makes integration of third-parties possible.
Flexible, interoperable software solutions that excel far past simply gathering information are the ticket to adapting to shifting winds in Australia’s care services sector. Integration across the health-care continuum is fast becoming the new normal in our consumer-directed landscape – and organisations without the tools to innovate will be at a sizable disadvantage.
Emma Pate is General Manager at AlayaCare