Opinion: Choice and flexibility promises paradigm shift for aged care

An elderly woman is on the phone with her son as they plan her appointments and outings for the week ahead.

It’s a ritual that’s become common-place for her adult children as they balance the want to help, with their mother’s desire to be as independent as possible.

The woman has early-stage dementia, resulting in the occasional missed doctor’s appointment, while the after-effects of a hip replacement mean her weekly visit to the local shops isn’t always unaided.

As she and her son hone in on the details of her schedule, she reaches for the iPad, considers the options, and decides she’ll move Tuesday’s visit by her care provider so she can get to her granddaughter’s school play. And, while she’s online, she’ll make a payment for this month’s carer service via the system’s integrated billing platform.

With choice and convenience at her fingertips, power is in the hands of the ‘customer’ to decide when and how she wants to interact with her care provider, and the services she’ll select from one visit to the next.

It’s a scenario that might seem a world away for many participants in Australia’s aged care system. However, a digital solution to be piloted by Australian Unity could make it a reality – potentially trialled in a matter of months.

The online offering, which we’re exploring in collaboration with our partners, is one of a number of technological and process advances we’re introducing that we believe will lead to a paradigm shift in the industry – for the people accessing community care services, and for our 4,500-strong team of care workers who are passionate about providing the highest standard of care for the people they support.

It’s about being truly customer-obsessed, rather than just another ‘service provider’.

And, we can’t underestimate what it will do for our value proposition when it comes to attracting the very best care workers to work with us.

For our team, it will mean spending less time navigating manual systems and administration processes, and more quality time with the people they support. It is, after-all, our reason for being.

Importantly, clients will have the option of opting-in to the digital platform. Again, it’s a mindset that’s driven by the notion that the best service delivery comes by putting the ‘keys’ in the hands of each client.

As one of Australia’s largest providers of support services across the aged, community and disability sectors, we’re acutely aware of the responsibility that comes with caring for and supporting the community’s most vulnerable.

For us, it means helping to transform a model based on generational institutionalisation over the past decades, to one where quality, choice, personalisation and fulfilment of life is always at the forefront of what and how we deliver.

It’s why we’re investing in ways to keep improving the day-to-day experience of the growing number of people coming into the aged care system each year, for the benefit of the people who receive our support, and for those who deliver it.


Kevin McCoy is CEO of Australian Unity’s Independent & Assisted Living division


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here