Demographic forecasts indicate that the demand for aged care services will continue to outstrip supply for the foreseeable future. Living longer means we have more complex health requirements. Consumer demands and requirements are becoming increasingly specific for consumers. At the same time, the aged care sector is under the highest level of scrutiny from the Royal Commission, government, consumer and media.

This intense focus is a once in a lifetime opportunity to create a sustainable aged care sector of the future – and our future aged care system could be governed and funded in a better way.

In September 2019 we brought together 121 CEOs and executives from 112 aged care providers to create ‘The Perspectives on the Future of Ageing’ report. This set the tone and the appetite to plan a pathway forward. In March 2020 we brought together executives from aged care providers to further explore some possible futures for the aged care sector.

With so many providers involved – from private and public, and rural, regional and urban providers, small and large – it is no surprise that not everyone agreed and there was no one path forward. Our reports reflect the diversity and sometimes contradictory experiences in the sector. What has become clear through this process is that an appropriate mix of smaller systemic changes across our broader healthcare network, enhanced funding options and enhanced regulation could provide the best outcomes for both consumers and providers.

All of our reports have been submitted to the Royal Commission for consideration as part of their future recommendations to secure a safer and quality future for the aged care sector. They are designed to stimulate conversation and reflection, on the current state of the sector, and its future. They are a contribution to the ongoing debate about the future of ageing.

What can you do now?

While policy will inform the future direction of the sector, there are many things providers can do now to improve their performance and ensure a sustainable future. Consider your business model, funding opportunities and appetite for diversification. Do your governance framework and systems help or hinder you? What does the future of the aged care sector look like for you? What are the steps you can take now to get you there?

A model for transformation and governance

The aged care industry of the future will be defined by the social, economic, rehabilitation, medical and personal supports that enable Australians to age well. The opportunity we have now is to design a flexible system while providing assurance to providers to invest in services that will provide quality and safe outcomes for consumers. This required reconsideration of the Aged Care Roadmap and its potential role in the future. Based on feedback, we have created a phased approach to transformation that provides for different funding arrangements at different times to drive sectoral behaviour change and stimulate reform, investment and sustainable outcomes.

This was presented to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety in May 2020.

Funding and stimulus to support the aged care sector

The purpose of this report is to explore options for improving the funding model for the sector. Some ideas are dependent on policy, while others can be leveraged independently by the providers. In consultation with the sector and our Tax specialists, we have identified six stimulus domains. Not one will work on its own, but a mixture could support real and sustainable change.

  • Employment stimulus: initiatives that seek to increase participation in the workforce.
  • Retiree stimulus: initiatives that incentivise those individuals who can afford it, to contribute more to their accommodation and care, as they age.
  • Provider stimulus: initiatives to directly incentivise providers to deliver better quality services.
  • Industry rationalisation stimulus: initiatives to incentivise provider rationalisation to prevent market failure.
  • Investment stimulus: initiatives to incentivise the development of new facilities and models of care.
  • Government stimulus: options for funding aged care services and meeting community expectations into the future.

This was presented to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety in May 2020.

Perspectives on the Future of Ageing

Grant Thornton, with support from Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) and a national cross-section of age services providers, came together to share perspectives on the future of age services and ageing well in Australia.

On the coalface, providers hear the stories and experience the challenges the current system has in meeting the needs of older Australians. The report provides a reflection on consumer experiences, collaboration within the healthcare network, workforce, governance and government. It is the launch pad to further discuss future steps to support the aged care sector of the future.

This was presented to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety in September 2019.

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