The timeframe is short, the 100 largest Australian Aged Care providers have been asked to make initial submissions to the impending Royal Commission by 7th January and the remaining providers by 8th February. So, if you are a leader in the Aged Care sector, now’s the time to get serious about your approach.
In this article, we discuss what to expect from a Royal Commission, how to prepare and potential opportunities that may lay ahead.
What to expect
It’s difficult to know for certain, but insights from our colleagues at Nous Group suggest the final outcomes of the Royal Commission into Aged Care will be focused on:
- quality of care,
- the impact of person-centred care,
- challenges of demography, and
- potential for sustainable improvement.
It will be important to analyse the specific language in the terms of reference and for this to guide your submissions and any statements you make.
What you can be assured of is that transparency will be paramount. Everything will be out in the open in this process and you’ll need to have your records and your data well-ordered and understood.
Similarly, there’s little doubt the workload will be substantial. You need to allocate resources and prepare your staff.
Many providers will need preliminary submissions by the start of the new year. So, time is of the essence.
A dedicated team
The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry showed that the process is incredibly time consuming and unpredictable. You’re going to need resources for a dedicated team, and they’ll need flexibility to deal with sudden requests and the potential for a Public Relations crisis.
Run a tight ship
If you haven’t done so already, you need to consolidate your records and your data in a format that is thorough and easy to access. The last thing you want is for there to be unexplained inconsistencies in your records when being examined under the bright lights of a hearing.
Thus far, there have been no mandatory requests for submissions, but we know the commission does have these powers. This early ‘invitation’ has the potential to put any particular organisation in the spotlight, but one must be wary of seeing it as optional. Avoiding scrutiny is likely to backfire.
Julie Hough a Chartered Accountant at Fordham Business Advisors, a specialist part of Perpetual, has extensive experience advising on compliance-related investigations like these. She’s taken a broad perspective and says opportunities can arise from the process.
"For providers it offers the opportunity to reinforce and reset relationships with the key interest groups – consumers, families, staff, service managers, the executive and the Board.
Also, different providers will respond in different ways to the challenges ahead – there is the potential for substantial differentiation from other operators if the opportunity to face up to the challenge is taken promptly."
Stronger regulation and compliance responsibilities
Aged care is a unique business model, it requires both a high level of care and sensitivity, as well as complex financial responsibilities for clients’ funds. Having a clear understanding about the rules, and having systems in place to manage them, is vital to ensure your organisation doesn’t step outside the boundaries.
This becomes even more important given the high likelihood that the rules will change as a result of proceedings.
Perpetual has deep experience as a trusted fiduciary and investment adviser. We have direct and relevant in-house knowledge of the aged care sector and we understand the need for reliable support for key stakeholders in the sector. Perpetual’s team of specialists can work with you to provide advice on liquidity management, governance and long-term investment strategies. Our knowledge and expertise in legislations and regulations has prepared us for this dynamically changing environment.
Scott Hawker is National Manager, Not-for-Profit Endowments at Perpetual Private and he’s an expert on the unique nature of the aged care sector. Whether it be liquidity management of Refundable Accommodation Deposits, or developing an investment management statement, you need a partner with strong foundations - feel free to reach out to Scott and our team.
A Royal Commission is never called lightly; to minimise any downside potential, and to understand the potential changes to the industry, you need to ensure you are prepared with adequate resourcing and advice from those with the right experience. Now is the time to prepare yourself and your Board for what is to come.
Is your organisation prepared for the royal commission?
Perpetual has been a trusted fiduciary of aged care businesses for decades, and we have in-house consultants who have first-hand experience of the processes and outcomes of a royal commission. Our team of specialists offer highly tailored advice and a range of services to meet the unique needs of your organisation.