By putting a greater emphasis on talent, aged care facilities would better attract staff and new clients alike. Principals’ Claire Gallagher explains.

People are critical to care delivery for aged care brands. There can be no argument that aged care providers need to promote their people while also supporting and enabling them to deliver the brand promise. This is the only way to truly align care expectations with the day to day experience.

Yet many organisations within the sector have yet to embrace this approach. Too often we see marketing collateral featuring stock images of staff and residents or promotion that focuses on infrastructure at the expense of people.

The critical role of people in delivering on the brand promise was brought to light in August this year when Bupa, the largest Aged Care provider in Australia and New Zealand, was reported by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (ACQSC) as having 45 homes that failed to meet accreditation standards with 22 having a serious risk decision made against them.

Publically, the CEO of Bupa Australia and New Zealand Hisham El-Ansary apologised “unreservedly” for incidents of poor care in some of its 72 homes but denied cutting back on staff. He did, however, attribute these failures to inadequate staffing and the difficulty of recruiting, particularly in regional and rural areas.

Talent is a major issue for aged care facilities and the acquisition and retention of this talent is intrinsically linked to brand.

Organisations in the sector need to position themselves as destination brands for talent if they want to attract the right people and, as importantly, retain them. This lies at the heart of the brand proposition, customer experience and ultimately success as a care provider.

The reality is that expectations are increasing in terms of quality and care delivery. Families and patients are looking for more personalised care solutions, an emphasis on wellbeing and a positive care experience. There are also expectations around technology and data as these forces disrupt the sector as they have disrupted so many others.

For aged care, technology has the power to improve the speed and accuracy of treatment, wearable devices can help manage patients care day to day by gathering data on their habits, vital signs, health records etc. While augmented reality and artificial intelligence are already supporting patients in clinical settings, there is much more to come in this space. However, there is a danger that an increased focus on tech will usurp people taking us back to square one.

In Australia, the interim report from the Royal Commission into Aged Care is due in April and will shine even more of a spotlight on the sector and the shockwaves from this will be felt across the Tasman.

Care providers need to ensure their people are enabled and committed to delivering the right patient/customer experience and a focus on people at the heart of these brands will go a long way to ensuring this is the case.