A Once in a Lifetime Opportunity Australia!

Many Australians have not valued older people or the contributions they have made throughout their lives. This cultural blind spot is seen in the way Australian society addresses ageing, dying and death. Australia needs to

fundamentally change the way we think and feel about older people if our elders are to live meaningful and fulfilled lives now and into the future.

On 16 September 2018, the Australian Government announced a Royal Commission into the aged care sector. The Royal Commission was charged with looking at the quality of residential and in-home aged care and was to provide a final report by 26 February 2021. However, last week the Commissioners detailed 124 recommendations after two years and 99 days of public hearings and more than 10,000 submissions.


The Commissioners sweeping recommendations for reform detail how to transform a broken system following last year’s scathing Interim Report which found Australia’s aged-care services are underfunded, mostly poorly managed and all too often unsafe and seemingly uncaring.


The following key recommendations were delivered:


  • A new Aged Care Act based on human rights principles including:
    • Emphasis that older people have the right to a “meaningful life”
    • The role of volunteers to support a meaningful life
    • The compulsory inclusion of music and art therapists along with other allied health professionals in residential care
  • A new planning program for aged care which provides demand-driven access in place of the current rationed approach.
  • A new and independent process for setting aged care Quality Standards.
  • A new enforceable general duty of care on approved providers of aged care with penalties for failing to meet requirements.
  • Mandated staffing ratios in residential aged care.
  • Compulsory registration of personal care workers.
  • An independent pricing authority.
  • An independent Aged Care Commission to administer and regulate the system.


Those of us in the industry who have been transitioning from a medical model of care to a service and social model of care in response to the much needed new standards and based on a deep understanding of the consumers, are watching this space with a keen interest, given the enormous ramifications it will have on the sector.

The aged care sector is under the highest level of scrutiny, from the Royal Commission, government, consumers and the media.

There’s no dispute the current system is broken and needs urgent reform. The industry must undergo significant reform. It will be incumbent on all of us to work together to ensure the aged care system of the future is sustainable, kind, and is incentivised to continuously improve.

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity Australia! Together, we must embrace the Commissioners’ 124 recommendations and play a proactive part in this reform. Coaching and enabling our leaders to be a catalyst for sector change for every Australian, who deserve access to exceptional, whole of life services which exceed their expectations and allow for a meaningful life.

If you apply the learnings from Jim Collins’ Good to Great research, there are 3 guiding principles that can take a service from good to great:


  1. Disciplined people: ‘Who’ before ‘what’ – get right people in the right roles. There should only be room for A-level people who were willing to put out A-plus effort. Think training, minimum staffing levels, availability of quality professional staff (RNs/Allied health), regulation of carers etc…
  2. Disciplined Thought: Know how to simplify a complex world into a single, organizing idea—the kind of basic principle that unifies, organizes, and guides all decisions. The concept was simple, and that reflects penetrating insight and deep understanding for the customer. Smart, tough-minded people examining hard facts and debating what those facts mean. The point isn’t to win the debate, but rather to come up with the best answers
  3. Disciplined Action: THE ‘STOP DOING’ LIST. Good-to-great leaders distinguish themselves by their unyielding discipline to stop doing anything and everything that doesn’t fit tightly within the remit.

The real path to greatness it turns out, requires simplicity and diligence. It requires each of us to focus on what is vital—and to eliminate all of the extraneous distractions.

What if we apply this to leadership in aged care? What if we assess and leverage ways of working that are value-driven, completely focused on enabling people to live meaningful and connected lives?

Now is the time to reflect on whether your organisation and leadership is impacting on the people and communities you serve.


With the new demand on consumer driven care, imagine the following:

  • How would things change if there was no limit to who has the potential to relieve the impact of people in vulnerable circumstances?
  • How do we ensure core rules are built and enforced from a rights-based and place-based approach?
  • What would change if our client-centred approach met the objective of staying in the game as opposed to winning the game?
  • What if we consistently valued trends over absolutes? Trends direct the game, absolutes never do.

Imagine if we took the complexities and boiled them down into simple, yet profound ideas. A concept that is simple but reflects penetrating insight and deep understanding for our elders. Ensuring every elder is enabled to live their life in all its fullness, whatever that means to them as respected individuals. Fulfilling their purpose, living with passion and joy, despite barriers set by others or the elder themselves, perceived or real. A meaningful life!


Transitioning from a medical model of care to a service and social model of care is paramount and never more important than before. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Australians to come together and create a better system for elderly Australians.


There has been a significant commitment and ongoing dedication of the aged care workforce as the industry navigates the COVID-19 pandemic. Without each and every one of the people on the front line of aged care services doing their jobs, our elderly and most vulnerable Australians, would be at significantly higher risk than they are today. All Australians owe them a debt of thanks.


Let’s, together, get behind leaders in this important sector, enabling them to find the simplicity and diligence to focus on what is vital—our elders, and eliminate all of the extraneous distractions.

There is no better time than now to take what is essentially a good service and make it a great service offering that impacts profoundly on the communities we serve, enabling people to live meaningful lives through heart to heart, person to person connection.


Article Written by:

Linda Taylor

Specialist Consultant

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