The Intervention that will Turn the Care Industry Around

Posted on: 25/04/2020

Ashley Hunt, MBA and BSW, has worked in the care industry for over 20 years and leads a boutique business offering premium specialised services aimed at creating optimal culture to drive high performance in partnering organisations.

 The Aged Care Sector is in Trouble

The number of Australians aged 65 and over will more than double in the next 40 years[1]. It’s well known that the Aged Care sector in Australia is straining to meet the increasing needs of our treasured older generation.

$17 billion was spent by governments on aged care in 2015-2016 and its estimated funding will increase to over $20 billion by 2020[2].

The challenges this sector is facing go beyond expanding the available number of rooms and hiring more workers. The workforce will need to grow by 167% by 2050 to meet industry demand. Not only is this industry one of the fastest growing in Australia, it is experiencing rapid change and struggling to keep pace with the demands. Serious risk against care providers increased by 177 per cent over the past year[3] and many organisations were found to repeatedly fail audits, incur penalties and even be sanctioned.

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety aimed to shine a light on what’s going on; with the results due to be revealed in October of this year.

What’s more, the bar has only been raised further with the new Aged Care Quality Standards (Standards) having just taken effect from 1 July 2019.

There is no doubt that the care industry is in need of a remedy. While the auditing process is one surface level strategy to ensure the industry performing up to standard, it doesn’t get to the heart of why the issue exists in the first place.

A secondary intervention is required – one which addresses the root cause of this systemic issue impacting the industry.

What is the cause?

While there is no one individual easy answer to this industry-wide problem, one thing is clear; leadership and culture plays a big part to its solution. Culture can be defined as the accepted norms and expectations in a group and those deeply ingrained habits and systemic practices.

Leadership accounts for 70% of the variance between poor and high performing cultures [1].

This means that an improvement in leadership capability can have up to a 70% impact on the transformation of an organisational culture.

The level of leadership capability required for the care industry has been defined within the Australian Aged Care Leadership Capability Framework 2014 (Framework), which was created in conjunction with the Australian Government.

Currently there is no system to audit providers on how their leaders are performing against this Framework. Organisations say they are using their public spend to develop their employees and improve their ways – but how can we track the actual impact and effectiveness of this?

What’s needed to hold care providers accountable?

A structured, objective, valid and reliable auditing process is required which assesses the leadership capability of care providers against BOTH the Leadership Capability Framework and the 8 Aged Care Standards.

For this to be effective, it needs to measure their level capability at T1 (before) and T2 (after) the investment, demonstrating a clear impact and result of their efforts.

For this to work, it’s imperative that this process is administered by an independent third party who can provide an objective role in this assessment.

Care providers should be provided with results on their biggest gaps and opportunities for improvement in direct relation to the Care Standards and Framework. Then rather than apply a blanket approach to leadership development – and see those investment efforts wasted – companies would be able to target their spend and efforts specifically on the capability areas that need to be developed and even segment groups of managers accordingly.

To drive improvement across the entire industry as a whole, care organisations should have access to benchmarking data so that they can understand where they are performing in line with other organisations.

What this would mean for the care industry

A process like this would provide tangible and objective evidence as to whether the industry is improving its overall leadership capability or not. It will keep organisations accountable to what they say will deliver – demonstrating the impact of how they spend the public money they receive.

Those who are found to be doing the right thing, will be recognised and rewarded. Those whom are not, will be noted and held to account.

Proof it works

This process has been run using a tool called CILCA 360 – which stands for the Care Industry Leadership Capability Assessment. While it’s a new tool and the first of its kind, several care providers have already jumped on the opportunity to have their leadership capability audited against both the Aged Care Standards and Care Leadership Framework – and they’re seeing results.

They’ve now got visibility on their biggest leadership gaps and risk areas, are targeting their development efforts accordingly and are on their way to creating a culture and organisation that delivers an exceptional level of care to our aged population.

If you want to go beyond just keeping the regulators happy, and deliver best-in-class care to your residents, as well as have an organisation that staff are proud to be part of, download our Whitepaper today, where you’ll discover the Top 3 Things the Best Do That the Others Don’t.

[1] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

[2] Deloitte Access Economics report from 2016

[3] Department of Health, Feb 2019

[1] The State of the American Manager: Analytics and Advice for Leaders Report, Gallup