An aged care industry expert has outlined enterprise opportunities in the sector, such as mobile offerings and improved infrastructure, in the wake of a new report by the Productivity Commission.
The report, titled Caring for Older Australians, focuses on the country’s ageing population and how both industry and government must respond to the increasing needs of the elderly.
The report recommends the establishment of an independent commission, and allowing providers to charge bonds for high-care beds in nursing homes.
Cam Ansell, aged director at accounting firm Grant Thornton Australia, was heavily involved in the report and fully supports the commission’s recommendations.
“If Australia is to cope with the unprecedented number of older Australians requiring care, then adopting these changes is essential,” Ansell says.
According to Ansell, a lot of the changes relate not only to the services available within the sector but the infrastructure, suggesting there are opportunities for start-ups to develop solutions.
“It is only financially possible to build institutional, multi-bed wards and not the modern, single bedroom nursing homes consumers want and expect,” he says.
“This is largely because regulations restrict a resident’s ability to contribute towards their care.”
“By allowing consumers to contribute toward the same accommodation and living costs they paid for at home, there will be significantly more choice and higher service quality overall.”
Ansell says it is important that government and industry do not “play politics” with elderly care and their quality of life.
“We have a small window of opportunity to get this right,” he says.
Ansell says the operators that will struggle in the future are those that fail to invest in new infrastructure, and those with thin balance sheets.
“There are only about 1,200 operators out there [in Australia]. Once you remove a lot of the large operators, most have one or two facilities,” he says.
“Around half of the infrastructure in Australia is around 20-years-old, so there are opportunities to work with these operators. Some of these operators… will be looking for people to partner with.”
Ansell says entrepreneurs with a background in hospitality also have an opportunity to add value to existing care models, particularly those that are mobile, enabling people to remain in their own homes but receive the appropriate level of support.
“The ethos is moving from a benevolent service to a service where your clients have higher expectations – it’s a different paradigm,” he says.
“One of the recommendations of the Productivity Commission is a single, uniform model for delivering aged services, which means having the capacity to do so.”