We need to change the aged care industry in Australia.
We all know that aged care needs to transform to reflect what customers really want, so at PresCare, we are demonstrating our commitment to this by asking real people what they want and need. This has helped to paint a picture of what the company would need to look like to fulfil these needs and has set us on track to transform into exactly that.
We are sharing our story to hold ourselves and others to this new, higher standard. We even highlighted this change in our recent marketing campaign, stating:
We’re not aged care, we’re PresCare.
I’m excited to have been asked to present on this topic at the COTA conference in June, where we will have the opportunity to further explore the sector’s progress. For now, let’s go back to the beginning and the key questions we are all asking ourselves:
What do our future customers and their families/loved ones really want?
Is what we offer, and how we offer it, meeting these needs now and into the future?
Would I be satisfied living in an aged care facility as they are right now?
If you, like us, answered either ‘don’t know’ or ‘no’, it’s time to change it up.
At PresCare, we took a long look at where we’ve come from – we are a Ministry of the Presbyterian Church of Queensland and we’ve been operating for nearly 90 years. We reflected on the core values that are, and will always be, our guiding principles – respect, care, discover, deliver. We spoke with real people and real families. And most importantly, we listened.
It’s your life, we’re listening
We conducted focus groups – lots of them. We consulted with our customers and their families about what was working for them and what wasn’t. We sought insights to understand more about the market, identify our strongest segments and get into the minds of individuals around how they are likely to make decisions about their aged care services. We talked to our employees who knew many of these things as they see them every day.
Some of the results were hard to hear – we are all just trying to do our best after all – but many more of them were plain common sense. We just needed to be ready to listen.
We treated every insight as a gift, and these gifts spurred us on to help shape a new era of aged care – where PresCare can help older Australians live well. ‘It’s more you’ speaks to our clients and reflects the way we provide support on their terms.
We’re not old, we’re experienced
PresCare has nearly 90 years of experience, but we acknowledged that the aged care system in which we provided care was antiquated and left plenty of room for improvement. Consumer Directed Care (CDC) bolstered this sentiment. In the new landscape, we’ve essentially moved from one government customer to a consumer market of around 1 million people. There is not one part of our organisation that hasn’t been affected by the monumental change required to respond.
We embarked on a period of change and brought our Board along with us for the journey, knowing at the outset that this was a significant shift in thinking. We recognised that this was our opportunity to take a good look at what we do, how we do it, and why.
We engaged a marketing agency to assist with the market research and to develop the key messages for our campaign. We had in-house marketing expertise, but we wanted that external presence to challenge our thinking – after all, we had 90 years where we knew our client (the government) very well. We were the experts where we knew what people needed and gave it to them. There was nothing else we needed to learn, right?
Wrong. We needed to get to know some of these 1 million potential customers in a new way, so we brought in help to make sure we did: to keep us on track and to push us beyond our comfort zone to where our customers wanted us to meet them. We heard that people want to maintain control over their lives – which they had always done. We heard from our customers that no provider in the industry was really comprehensively meeting their needs. There’s been a significant shift in how people view ageing. As the baby boomers move from making decisions about their parents to thinking about how they will want to live – preferably at home for longer – they want better choices.
Well, that just makes sense doesn’t it? So why does the industry limit their choices? How can we preserve and grow their choices?
Issues with the word ‘care’
We also heard our customers’ views on the word ‘care’. They don’t mind being cared for, just not ‘taken care of’. I get that too. With this insight, we recognised that to change the industry, we also had to change our language. It isn’t just about doing things differently. It is about being different.
This was where our new brand promise – It’s more you – comes in. It’s simple and to the point. We want to express to our customers that when they choose PresCare, we will listen to them. We’ll listen to their views and preferences. We will shape an individualised support plan around them, delivering to them more of what they want. We are committed to always listening. Differentiation is the key, and we are working hard to ensure that we stand out amongst a rapidly growing field of competitors, including a new breed of for-profit businesses.
We are committed to putting our customers at the centre of our decisions and our processes – in everything we say and do. This includes our care, websites, advertising, social media and all the way through to our people. As a Christian organisation, our mission and values have long reflected our commitment to transforming lives, but there was more that we could do to instil the delivery of consistently high quality customer service by all employees.
Aligning employees with the mission
It has been said that “Your brand is a promise, that all starts with the people who will keep that promise”. Our journey continues by aligning every employee to our mission. Whether it is our clinical care staff, support services staff, or our associated businesses, all of our employees will operate under the PresCare commitment to our customers that ‘It’s more you’. This path is critical to be truly authentic. People are clever – they can see through a façade – so we have to genuinely put these words into action and embed them into every customer experience.
Across the aged care sector, many of us have been on this journey for a while now – evolving. It’s important to keep an eye on the competition, but it’s more important to keep an eye on your customers (and your ears as well). There is always room for improvement. At PresCare, we have commenced planning for the future application of the principles of CDC in our residential settings. It is still early days but we must strive to reach the heights of advanced consumer-driven sectors such as retail or hospitality. The key is that we have responded and that all of this change will result in improved services for older Australians. That will always make the transition valuable, worthwhile and important.
Greg Skelton will be sharing further insights on ‘It’s more you’ at the Implementing Increased Choice in Aged Care conference, taking place in Sydney this June. Book soon to secure early bird rates!