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4 Key Challenges Facing The Australian Aged Care Sector

Nov 26, 2021 | Article

Senior Woman Sitting In Chair And Laughing With Nurse In Retirement Home

Australia’s aged care sector is growing and evolving at an unprecedented pace. Our aging population, changing regulatory requirements, and shifting community expectations are just some of the factors placing extra strain on Australia’s aged care services.  

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety’s final report, released in early 2021, laid out several recommendations to inform the future of aged care in Australia. Here, we explore four of the critical challenges identified in the Commission’s report and look at how our aged care industry might respond to them.

An effective digital transformation strategy will allow aged care providers to reinvent their business models to meet changing expectations, drive innovation and support continuous improvement.

Challenge 1. Changing demographics

Australia’s on track to have close to 2 million people over the age of 85 by 2050. These Baby Boomers – born between 1946 and 1964 – have high expectations compared with generations before them and expect an offer that’s tailored to their needs. They’re comfortable with technology and are prepared to do their research to identify ways to get better service.

As more of these Baby Boomers move into our aged care system, providers will be under increasing pressure to improve their service offerings to meet the expectations of these comparatively more demanding and savvy users. Technology will be a key enabler of a differentiated customer experience, with options such as virtual and augmented reality, video calls and artificial intelligence becoming more mainstream.

Challenge 2. Staffing difficulties

Around 2.5% of the Australian workforce is employed in the aged care sector. With more than one million people using aged care services during 2019-20, the Commission’s report found that overworked providers and understaffed facilities were leading to the delivery of substandard care.

The aged care workforce is aging, and skilled workers are leaving the sector due to an increasing workload, long working hours, and low wages. Providers and the Government must review remuneration, working conditions and more to ensure that the increasing demand for aged care services can be met by skilled workers who see aged care as an attractive and rewarding long-term career.     

Challenge 3. Increasingly demanding government policies

The aged care sector is one of Australia’s most regulated industries. These regulations exist to protect older Australians in our aged care system; however, increasingly demanding regulations also place a significant administrative burden on aged care providers. 

Aged care regulations cover everything from setting government subsidies to allocating licences, assessing senior Australians’ eligibility for aged care packages, and auditing service providers to ensure they meet a minimum standard of care.

To effectively measure and monitor compliance with an ever-growing list of regulatory requirements, aged care providers must embrace technology as an essential tool to drive efficiency and streamline operations. Automating processes, integrating systems and improving the way data is captured and shared with the support of modern technology will let providers reduce the work effort associated with regulatory compliance.    

Challenge 4. Digital disruption

The aged care sector’s traditionally low-tech ways of working simply don’t support the agile and responsive service that today’s users demand. The Commission’s report flags investing in IT as a way to keep our aging population safer and improve users’ independence within the aged care system. 

An effective digital transformation strategy will allow aged care providers to reinvent their business models to meet changing expectations, drive innovation and support continuous improvement.

In addition to streamlining operating models and ensuring vital data is shared across platforms and always secure, digital transformation can support enhanced financial management – giving users payment flexibility and transparency and supporting providers with real-time reporting and analytics.  

Xetta is a powerful payments platform that supports aged care providers to align changing expectations with evolving organisational capability. Tailored to reflect the uniqueness and diversity of the health sector, it integrates with core business systems to simplify workflows, expand payment capability, streamline reconciliation, reduce security and compliance risk, and provide valuable reporting and analytics.