China’s rapidly growing population of middle class seniors offers opportunities for Australian aged care providers, but those interested in entering the “complex market” should go in early, Austrade says.
Key areas for Australian providers to offer their expertise are facility design and operation, workforce skills development and training, smart health and broad health, according to Austrade.
It is estimated there will be 248 million seniors aged over 60 in China as soon as 2020, according to Anna Lin, trade commissioner with Austrade in Guangzhou, China.
It is an enormous challenge for the Chinese government and the reason China is the “mega market” for health and aged care, she said.
“There’s a growing middle class who are very different to previous generations. They are demanding better services. They are demanding higher quality goods,” Ms Lin told the Leading Age Services Australia national congress on Monday.
Ms Lin advised Australian providers to find the right partner in China and enter the market with a long-term plan, rather than rushing in.
“Those who want to enter China need to go in early. They need to visit the market, they need to start having the dialogue with the Chinese partners,” Ms Lin said.
“It is not going to happen overnight… those that have entered early, it has taken them years to get the licences, to get the approvals because China is such a complex market. It is going to take time.”
Areas of opportunity and support
Chinese Government initiatives, along with the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, could support Australian organisations interested in doing business with China, she said.
Ms Lin pointed to the Chinese Government’s Healthy China 2020 strategy, which sets out the government’s key development goals and areas of focus in health and aged care. “It is looking at how to better integrate health and aged care. It is about speeding up the aged care industry; so more private sector investment,” she said.
Ms Lin said the most opportunities for Australian providers were in facility design and operation, workforce skills development and training and smart health.
Austrade was available to assist with market insights and offered a range of services including advice and networks to Chinese decision-makers from the government and private sectors, she said.
It also recently authored the report The China aged care industry report – the guide for Australian businesses. (See Austrade for more information.)
Australian provider signs deal
Baptcare is one Australian provider that has capitalised on the opportunities in China.
Last month it announced a new partnership with Shanghai government agency, the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau, to develop the skills of Chinese aged care professionals.
Baptcare CEO Graham Dangerfield said the alliance was formed following attendance at the Austrade International Aged Care Summit in Beijing last November and a subsequent meeting with aged care representatives from the Shanghai bureau.
The provider has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Shanghai Social Welfare Industry Association (SSWIA) that sets out how Baptcare and SSWIA will plan and implement an advanced aged care professional skill training and work placement program, to be delivered in Baptcare’s residential aged care facilities across Melbourne and its Camberwell head office.
The agreement also includes an ongoing mentoring program that will be delivered electronically to provide continued support after participants return to Shanghai.
“This is a great opportunity for the growth of our business as it gives us exposure and access to the international market. In time, as our operational understanding of China’s aged care sector strengthens, we may potentially consult back into China and perhaps other Asian markets,” said Mr Dangerfield.
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