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Achieving growth in the aged care sector through listening to the market

The aged care sector is going through a once-in-a-lifetime review. The government has responded to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. The systems, governance, people, and processes within the sector all require major change.

Trends worth embracing & those worth challenging

Leaders and businesses that are willing and open to be challenged and change will always be more successful. When leaders, within aged care businesses, recognise the worth of the people around them, they create space for growth. The teams they lead need to be nurtured and their strengths harnessed.

In the light of the Royal Commission, the thinking, systems and processes of these teams also need to be challenged. Using best practice and cutting-edge thinking is how teams stay ahead of the curve and embrace new ways of working. COVID-19 has shown us how we sometimes have to be prepared to pivot and achieve an objective or outcome without necessarily going the way we thought we would. 

Gaining a competitive edge

Responding to the challenges and necessary change highlighted by the Royal Commission can be overwhelming. There is a spotlight on aged care businesses and a need to respond across the report quickly. Organisations need to understand their pain points, so they can effect change. In order to gain a competitive edge in this process many need to shift from the traditional approaches to aged care. 

Organisations trying to execute traditional hierarchical structures will not do as well as those that create a matrix of collaborative structures, working to harness the skills and capabilities of cross-functional teams. Task-focused cultures will not survive because of the way consumer expectations are evolving. Relationships should be built around deeply understanding the lived experience of those we ultimately work to support.

Many need a supporting hand, an organisation to help navigate the change. An organisation with values that drive their behaviour, programs that continually evolve to ensure the focus remains on client needs and opportunities, while being able to see themes emerge and foreshadowing emerging trends resulting in customised market solutions and fresh thinking. 

Embracing ‘lightbulb’ moments

There are always going to be moments we experience or witness that can make us change processes or abandon certain approaches in favour of others. We must recognise that in the aged care sector, the primary (frankly, the only) reason for being in the industry is to ensure a great lived experience for those in your care. Providing aged care services is complex, multi-focused, and ever-changing. We need to gravitate towards a ‘balanced scorecard’ approach to business performance since the customer is the key focus. 

Impact through honesty and embracing change

‘Impact’ needs to be felt throughout the entire industry; something that will be felt through helping to craft new ways of working. The better our providers are, the better the care they deliver for all older Australians. The opportunity we have to influence and support change across the aged care industry for improved outcomes for our residents is paramount. We can create sustainable and better functioning organisations and make a difference in the lives of many Australians. 

Leaders set the tone in any organisation. It’s vitally important for any business that setting the right leadership standards creates a culture where values mean more than just words. Honesty in our world sometimes means calling out issues, or giving feedback to clients on what they need, rather than what they want to hear. Through honesty we build trust and respect. We build business processes to get the right outcomes, and our teams learn and adopt our values as their own personal values within this industry. 

Know your world; know your goals

Customers have a loud voice, one which praises you is powerful – and equally so if it's critical. No matter what field you are in, start listening to your customers. Start perceiving feedback as an opportunity to learn and grow, not something to be ashamed of and ignore. Be honest. know what’s best for your customers and act on that as your primary motivator. Success will be the natural by-product. 

Cynthia Payne is founder and managing director of Anchor Excellence, a national board, executive and management consulting firm working to bring about an aged care system framed by the lived experience of older Australians.

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