Aged care — the next big challenge for boards

Next Monday (20 February), at a lunchtime event at Doltone House in Sydney’s CBD, Governance Institute will launch Adding value to governance in aged care, a ‘must-have’ guide for directors and senior management facing the governance challenges of a sector going through unprecedented disruption.

At the launch event, a panel discussion with Heather Watson, Acting Chair, Uniting Board of Directors, Paul Robertson AM, Non-executive Director, Catholic Health Australia and Paul Sadler, President and Chairperson, Aged & Community Services Australia and CEO, Presbyterian Aged Care NSW & ACT, will give a rare insight to the extent of the current and future governance challenges for providers in this sector. Without doubt these challenges will become increasingly complex as fundamental changes to the regulatory framework are rolled out by the Australian Government in 2017, starting with Increasing Choice in Home Care reforms which come effect next Friday (17 February).

Adding value to governance in aged care addresses a broad range of issues including the unique challenges facing the sector; factors to consider before taking a board position; issues the board should consider when appointing a new member; the relationship between the board and management; interaction with stakeholders; volunteer management; and risk management responsibilities.

It is the definitive guide for directors committed to overcoming key tests of the sector, including a high regulatory burden, increasing consumer choice and changes to funding. 

Boards of aged care providers will face increasing scrutiny and pressures as the forces of demographics press up against the issues of affordability and sustainability in the sector. They will need to ensure that they are capable of making informed and effective decisions and have in place governance frameworks to enable this.

The aged care sector is a significant part of the Australian economy. The sector employs around 350,000 aged care staff across approximately 2,000 aged care providers and is tipped to soon be the largest employer in Australia.

Australians are living longer—due largely to improvements in health care—and as the large cohort of baby boomers ages, the number and diversity of older Australians will grow. The sector is going through unprecedented change, aimed not only at improving care for older Australians but also relieving the cost burden for younger Australians.

As a lot of boards, particularly not-for-profits, may not be prepared for the regulatory change sweeping the sector and the demands this brings, Adding value to governance in aged care offers practical guidance to any potential or current member of a board of an aged care provider. Large-scale organisational change will be required in terms of workplace arrangements, staff roles, IT, business processes and capital expenditure in order to deliver consumer-driven care.

Importantly, the guide does not tell boards how to run their organisation, but it does step directors through the issues that they should consider in terms of their governance responsibilities.

If you are in the aged care sector, I would encourage you to come along to the launch event on Monday. You can register at www.governanceinstitute.com.au/education-training/calendar-of-events/eventdetails/E00453/aged-care-governance-in-a-time-of-disruption

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