I recently attended The Future of Aged Care Summit in Sydney where experienced local and international leaders presented their insights into the future of the sector.
Throughout the presentations and informal conversations that took place, three themes consistently emerged as learnings for anyone with an interest in working in aged care, now and into the future.
1. Customer choice
Customers now firmly have the power and freedom to choose both the specific services and the care provider of their choice. Legislative changes around consumer directed care and the strategic language in the sector to focus on person-centred care shifts financial decision making, and more importantly value assessment, back into the hands of the customer.
I believe this is a great thing for the aged care sector, as it comes into line with other competitive service industries such as retail and hospitality, where each and every interaction is an opportunity to increase the likelihood of becoming a trusted service provider for that customer (and their family and friends) in the future.
So, if you want to work in the aged care sector in the future, to provide great customer service you will need to:
ensure you treat your elderly customers with dignity and respect;
involve them in decisions about their treatment;
provide them with a positive experience.
2. Customer diversity
The Australian Bureau of Statistics projects that Australia’s population will grow to 27.2 million by 2026, with net migration expected to account for 55% of total growth and more than two-thirds coming from non-Anglo-Celtic backgrounds.
And as we have often heard discussed in recent years, Australia is an ageing nation. As the demand for services continues to increase, so too does the numbers of diverse people accessing aged care services.
Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) customers are looking for carers who understand them as complete humans, not just from a language perspective, but also from a cultural perspective. Carers who understand their practical and physical needs, as well as the cultural, spiritual and social needs of their customers will be in high demand.
Beyond cultural diversity, there are now large numbers of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and/or Intersex (LGBTI) customers in the aged care sector. The ability to provide individual understanding and acceptance of our elderly customers, without judgement, is going to be a critically important requirement for our carers in the future.
3. Customer journey
Navigating the aged care sector is an ongoing journey for our customers and their families. Care givers and providers all play a part in creating a variety of pathways that our customers will navigate.
Customers may seek the provision of extra help at home, may participate in day care centre activities or may create a new home in a residential aged care facility.
Each of these choices has a complete journey in and of itself, let alone the journey through a range of these options at different times. Therefore every individual carer can have an important impact on each customer and their family, and the loyalty they have to an aged care organisation.
It is both a significant responsibility and wonderful opportunity to understand and value the customer’s freedom of choice, their diversity and variety of pathways through the aged care sector.
It’s also immensely rewarding to work in a role where you have the opportunity to build relationships and spend time with people, often in the most vulnerable time in their life, offering independence and improved quality of life.
If this sounds like the right fit for you, then I look forward to crossing paths with you in the future.