As aged care enters an era of unprecedented competition, providers that focus on delivering high quality or differentiated services will flourish while others flounder, a leading CEO has said.
Quality in aged care included clinical excellence in core areas such as skin integrity, medication management, palliative care and dementia, but it also meant person-centred responses, said Dr Stephen Judd, chief executive officer of HammondCare.
A consistent theme from the Quality Agency’s consultations on quality was that responsiveness to consumer preferences was at the heart of quality care.
“When you ask older people what they’re looking for in a quality service, they don’t bring up the [CDC] budget, they bring up relationships,” Dr Judd told the Aged & Community Services Australia summit on Wednesday.
Currently aged care services were delivering “exhausted mediocrity” where older people with varying needs were lumped together and offered a one-size-fits-all model of care and support.
But the aged care providers that offered differentiated services, tailored to the unique needs and preferences of the group, would succeed in the reformed market, Dr Judd said.
“Those providers will stand out; they will flourish, because they’ll meet the needs of that group of people, which might be a particular cultural or ethnic group, or a regional area.
“Those providers know that group better than anyone else, better than a large national provider. And the community ownership around that service will be stronger,” he said.
Aside from quality and differentiated service, some providers would seek to compete on price, Dr Judd said.
There would always be “budget providers” who could supply a product to relatives seeking to pay as little as possible. “You can compete on price, but it’s a very low bar, and others can come in and take you out,” he warned.
The providers that were more likely to flounder were undifferentiated metropolitan-based services that did not stand out, aged care services that did not compete on quality, and the multi-bed residential services, he said.
Just as there would be providers that would flourish or flounder in the reformed market, older people would also be either winners or losers.
The seniors to do well would be those who could research their options and had supportive and informed families to assist them in care choices, he said.
Photo: Richard O’Leary
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