A deregulation of the aged care sector, a significant increase in those accessing services and a change in the social needs of our ageing population are the three major forces currently reshaping aged care in Australia.
With every ageing population comes a series of social and economic challenges to answer and Australia is no different. Beyond the challenges posed by the large cohort of retiring baby boomers, a combination of factors have created significant challenges and opportunities in the aged care sector and made it far more competitive.
Businesses involved in aged care have already started to evolve to meet the changing needs of Australia’s ageing population and take advantage of the opportunities created by the recent aged care reforms. We look at the challenges that organisations operating in the aged care sector are facing and how they may choose to differentiate themselves in this changing environment.
Living Longer, Living Better
The Living Longer, Living Better aged care reform package came into existence in 2012. The first major changes were implemented on the 1st of July 2013 and the second round of changes are being rolled out this year (started on July 1st) to help address the challenges of a population that is living longer. The initiative is injecting $3.7 billion dollars into aged care over the first five years of its ten-year duration and is designed to provide more support and care for people in their own homes, facilitate better access to residential care and strengthen the aged care workforce.
Of major interest to us is how the deregulation wrought by the reforms has also opened up the sector to more competition and the need for aged care services to become more customer-centric. Many of the reforms increase flexibility around the purchasing of residential care services and offer a greater integration of aged care services. Until July 1 2014 residential aged care providers were allowed to demand an accommodation bond and some businesses were asking as much as $275,000 for the bond. The new reforms have established accommodation payments consisting of "Refudable Accommodation Deposits" and "Daily Accommodation Payments", instead of bonds. The new system is geared towards ensuring financial help is given to those most in need, the government will now be looking at assets as well as income, as opposed to the old system of income only.
In the pursuit of a greater continuum of care, the reforms have empowered the customer in their choice of how they receive aged care services, including far greater provision of packages to help them recieve care in their own home. However, the complexities of the aged care system can so often overwhelm those attempting to find the care they need. This freedom of choice opens the market to fiercer competition and presents opportunities to those willing to create a strong brand that caters to their customers' changing needs. Brands that want to differentiate themselves with their degree of service, will be more capable of doing so.
All service providers should be looking to increase the information and advisory services they offer their potential customers and make the process as easy as possible. Appearing as a point of calm amongst the chaos of the reformed aged care system should be a key goal for service providers.
In the next edition of this blog we will explore key population statistics related to ageing to build a picture of Australia’s changing population and what this means for organisations operating within the aged care sector.
If you would like some more insights on public attitudes towards ageing and aged care in Australia please click on the button below to download our free market research snapshot.
ACA Research has a dedicated healthcare division, experienced in conducting research across a broad range of healthcare professionals and settings. If you are a business decision-maker in the aged care sector and would like to know how you can best meet the changing needs of your potential customer-base, please contact us here to find out how market research can help differentiate you from your competition.
Or if you are an individual trying to make sense of this tricky system we suggest you visit the My Aged Care website run by the government and designed to explain everything you need to know about the latest changes. Click here to visit the website.