As the sector prepares for greater market competition, providers will need to get better at harnessing insights from data collection to inform business decisions and identify opportunities, writes Lorraine Poulos.

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Lorraine Poulos

I believe it is important for managers to be collecting data which is meaningful in the period leading up to the deregulation of Home Care Packages in 2017 and in the transition to the new system for centralised referral and assessment.

Why? We are now well and truly in a competitive market and providers across the country are telling me that occupancy and competition are becoming real issues.

It is no longer enough to be waiting for referrals – you need to be marketing your services and ensuring corrective action can be taken when the data you are collecting indicates lower occupancy or a significant change in your local market environment.

It’s not rocket science. In most areas of our lives now there is the capacity for change and to exercise choice. It is no different in aged care.

The Centre for Social Impact talks about “systemic failure” and how some social problems are not changing or not changing fast enough. This is what we as an industry are finally beginning to understand. The reforms are addressing longstanding problems such as limited consumer choice, but in the process they are also giving rise to another problem, which is that providers now need to have a business approach to care services that enables them to be competitive, cope with a demanding and discerning market and to keep up with technological changes.

Smaller providers may feel that the problem is too big to fix due to the rapid changes in policy and funding models that are out of their control. However, you can look at your systems and try to ensure that they connect as much as possible so that you can make informed decisions and not knee jerk reactions. For example, if your referrals suddenly decrease you need to ask yourself:

  • What are other providers doing that is working?
  • What do you need to change in your role descriptions to ensure referrals are actioned within a certain time frame?
  • Who do you need to go and meet with regularly?
  • What does your website facilitate in terms of referrals?
  • Are you working collaboratively across the system, applying principles to identify the root cause of the problem in order to find a solution rather than sitting back and waiting?

In these times of change we are in danger of our local connectedness losing its power or influence as sophisticated marketing by providers begins to appear. So collecting data can help you understand what is really going on in areas that may impact your business. What data do you need to be collecting every day?

  • Occupancy – with information about likely transitions
  • Number of referrals
  • Time to convert – how long from referral to assessment
  • Number of accepted services
  • Reasons for refusal
  • Individualised budgets over and underspends
  • Brokerage feedback
  • Actual time spent on tasks (some electronic systems can provide this)
  • Number of assessments and time taken
  • Reviews undertaken
  • Care worker feedback regarding client feedback
  • Meetings – purpose and time spent
  • On call systems – issues and resolution time

It is relatively simple to set up a system for collecting this data and an effective manager can see the connections between the various functions of the service, what might not be working, what needs to change or, more importantly, feed information to the board and senior members of the organisation about the future viability and opportunities for the business.

I hope these tips help and please feel free to contact me if you need more information.

Lorraine Poulos is a trainer and consultant with experience working with government and aged care providers. Feedback can be sent to

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