Aged care providers will be more competitive if they can create and sustain fruitful partnerships, industry expert Jennene Buckley writes in the eighth article in this series.

Priority 8: Make the most of collaborative advantage

Aged care providers who have the ability to create and sustain fruitful collaborations, partnerships and alliances will have a significant competitive advantage. 

As we know, both current and future state aged care environments present significant challenges on operating margins with continued pressure to drive operating efficiency that will potentially come at the cost of investing in innovation and growth. The likely consequences include cuts to research and development, marketing and programs seen as non-essential for current operations. 

Not all providers will have the capacity to strategically respond to the changes on their own or have the capabilities in house to maximise or take advantage of the opportunities that will present in what will become a much more market and consumer-driven industry. 

Partnerships and alliances will become a strategic imperative for many aged care organisations to strengthen their armour and to succeed in the future aged care environment. What do these collaborations, partnerships or alliances look like?

Workforce partners can deliver a pipeline of skilled staff to fill current and future needs. This includes close engagement and formal partnerships with local jobs programs as well as employment, education and training organisations. It also includes the establishment of local employment and training pathways to secure your pipeline of skilled workers.

Referral partners can provide a pipeline of clients for your services. For aged care providers this could include retirement living, housing operators and other organisations looking to add value to their customers. A recent example is home care platform Five Good Friends, retirement living provider Aveo, disability and aged care support provider Life Bridge Australia and housing provider North Coast Community Housing.

Funding partners can grow and diversify service offerings to reduce your reliance on one funding source. These may include Primary Health Network grants, state health bodies to support post-acute and transitional care and hospital in the home programs.

Strategic partnerships and alliances can share in resourcing back-end operations, strategic procurement and workforce strategies. Recent examples include the NIACC Alliance, in regional New South Wales and Apollo Care in building an alliance of small-to-medium residential aged care providers.

Technology partners can modernise your business and service offering. A high-profile example has been big technology company Honor purchasing provider Home Instead in the United States and associated entities internationally with the view of revolutionising personalised care. And 24Hr Home Care partnering with uberASSIST in the US to support major hospitals in responsive discharge planning for patients is another example.

Research partners can assist in the design and evaluation of innovative programs and best-practice service models. A good example is Flinders University’s new Aged Care Centre for Growth and Translational Research.

Providers who use the reform to drive opportunities to create and build mutually beneficial partnerships and alliances will gain a strategic or operational advantage, or both. 

Jennene Buckley is founding partner at Enkindle Consulting, which provides business advisory, strategic and operational planning, and transformation service to the aged care sector.

This post is part of Jennene Buckley’s Top 10 Strategies to Reform Success, published by the Australian Ageing Agenda.

Image Source: Australian Ageing Agenda

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