The Aged Care Roadmap sets out the market-based and consumer-driven aged care system of the future, but the path is not clear and the destination may change, leaving providers with potholes to avoid, says an aged care executive.

Christadelphian Aged Care CEO Ross Peden described the Aged Care Roadmap as “a dog’s breakfast” because while it advocated a market-based consumer-driven approach, it did not offer a clear way of how to achieve it.

However, he said the document still provided a map of where things were headed and while the direction could change along the way – as Living Longer Living Better reforms had changed in the last two years – it indicated areas that could cause challenges for some operators.

Providers would have to navigate their way through while also monitoring their competition, capital structure, place in the market and organisational response to the changes, he told Australian Ageing Agenda.

“If you’re not thinking about this sort of stuff and you’re not looking at where the roadmap is going you will hit the potholes.”

Mr Peden will discuss key issues for aged care providers to consider at the aged care focus day of the Victorian Healthcare Week conference in Melbourne next month.

Capital requirements and the attraction of refundable accommodation deposits (RADs) over daily accommodation payments (DAPS) could be affected by the average stay of a resident, which is decreasing as people stay in their homes or go back and forth between home care and respite care for longer, he said.

“Living Longer Living Better was directed at RADs to bring capital into the industry and certainly it has done that but I am wondering whether the changing demographic, change in wealth profiles and change in a person’s stays are going to see people go to more of a hybrid or DAP situation,” he said, adding that might present a capital challenge for the industry.

Competition was a key issue because some operators still did not yet understand they were now in a competitive environment, Mr Peden said.

His organisation undertook “secret shopping” on its competitors and discovered that many were still not following up a visit from a potential client. “That’s an interesting piece of information because that’s marketing 101. If a customer comes through, check back with them.”

In addition to capital and competition, Mr Peden said looking at where the organisation was strategically going was another important area to address.

“Look at some of the things that are in the roadmap and ask where your business fit into it.  Are you going to peruse a palliative care model? A transition care model? You have to work out where your niche is,” he said.

Similarly, providers needed to know who their future customers would be, as it impacted on everything including ICT infrastructure.

“Right now, one of the first questions we get asked is whether we have Wi-Fi. These people are going to want Wi-Fi and to watch Netflix. Imagine the bandwidth I will need to have for my 150-bed facility,” Mr Peden said.

“When they are refurbishing, are they wiring your facilities up for the future? They are basic things but when you talk to a lot of people they are not doing it.”

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  1. When reading the Roadmap, one has to determine what has changed since the strong push for reform to offer “choice and voice” to open the market and bring new innovative services that suit the consumer needs and new providers to the market.

    Now it appears that the only choice will be approved providers in the gateway and the gateway is far from being user friendly at the moment. The work involved to prepare a client to “win” their contract can be undermined by the access and information in the gateway.

    The other parts of reform is the pressure on the care service workers to perform at such a high rate of competency and compliance which requires training and skills. The issue on the frontline is pay and conditions. When will we address workforce issues that meet the expectations of the reform. We have such huge expectations of the clinical governance and expertise and accountability for what carers do, but is pay parity there? Work in Woollies and have a smile on your face as the pay and conditions are better than what we offer the people who do some of the hardest work in the community.

    There is much more debate to be had I think.

  2. Beatrix

    Clearly the quality of care is the most important consideration for any reputable operator but unless you attend to the financial aspects of your activity then you are going to find it challenging to provide quality care.

    It is a business when you have to pay the staff who rely on their fortnightly wage, ensure you can afford adequate quality staffing, maintain the infrastructure of a 24 high usage building etc etc

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