Industry attitudes need to change: Strain

A senior industry leader says it’s time to move from a welfare model to a consumer model.

A senior industry leader has begun 2010 by issuing a warning: aged care and retirement living providers need to adjust to changing circumstances or they will become irrelevant.

The CEO of Adelaide-based Masonic Homes, Doug Strain told Australian Ageing Agenda that the industry needs a new attitude to move beyond outdated models.

“There is a common belief that when you are dealing with seniors it’s all about welfare, and government solutions,” said Mr Strain.

“But as an industry, we have got to accept the fact that we have a group of customers with various needs, wants, desires and abilities just like any other age demographic.

“Especially in the not-for-profit space there are a lot of groups trying to hold on to the welfare attitude towards seniors but everything indicates that we have got to move into more of a user-pays arrangement.

“I know there are a lot of older people out there who do need welfare support but things have certainly changed from a generation or two ago, when almost everybody over 65 was a welfare recipient and reliant on the pension.”

Mr Strain added that seniors living organisations need to focus on particular areas of the market and take risks to improve consumer choice.

“I would contend that every option for seniors living has a market segment available, whether that be high rise, low rise, nursing home, retirement villas with one bedroom two bedrooms, three bedrooms or even four bedrooms,” he said. “There is a market out there for each of those options.

“We also need to accept the fact that we can’t do everything for everyone,” Mr Strain continued. “At Masonic Homes, we have decided that our role is to service middle Australia and that’s what our focus is about. Yes, we do support some people with less capacity but we can’t support all of them.”

Over the past two years Masonic Homes has undergone significant growth and adopted a new corporate structure, becoming a company limited by guarantee.

It has also invested in upgrading its marketing efforts, improving efficiency and developing an integrated approach to human resources.

Mr Strain said these changes place his organisation in a strong position for the future.

“I think the industry is getting the message that we need to change and some people are well ahead but a lot of them are still in denial,” he said.

Tags: aged-care, concsumer-choice, doug-strain, masonic-homes, retirement-living, welfare,

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