Of the two million Australians currently over the age of 70, 200,000 will move into an aged care facility due to illness or disability this year—this number is only growing.
For many people, this is a confusing and terrifying experience.
It signals the moment when a person moves from a life of independence to one of dependence; where strangers will wash them, feed them and tell them what to do.
Australian Aged Care providers are attempting to design around this experience by learning more about the transition process, and finding ways to make the experience easier for individuals. But the system is complex. There are many pain points for each user across different journeys.
In partnership with Foresight Lane, we worked with Wimmera Health Care Group (WHCG) to redesign the business model, operational model, and service model at its aged care residences.
WHCG——Horsham’s largest public medical and residential aged care provider——is acutely aware of the need to adapt in response to government funding reforms, increasing customer demand, and a transforming workforce and competitive landscape.
It was important to generate an accurate, holistic understanding of the entire service experience, from existing residents and their families, to prospective residents, to staff members and ancillary service providers.
We ran a workshop for Medicare locals, the council, community care package providers, other aged care providers, hospital department executives and nurses to share their points of view on the bigger picture around aged care in Horsham.
We also ran an internal workshop with WHCG staff who worked across the different residences to build an image of the operational side of the business and to collect the insights and experiences of staff members.
We needed to create a visual representation of the ecosystem around WHCG’s aged care services. Only with a complete understanding of the way different stakeholders interacted to impact customers, could the organisation begin to identify opportunities for innovation and change.
We created a service ecosystem model around the local aged care customer journey. We synthesised research data to show the way customers interacted with service providers, and how different service providers communicated and shared knowledge with each other. We mapped the sequence of steps customers and families went through, including touchpoints, entry and exit points, pain and delight points, contextual factors and behavioural drivers.
We wanted to create empathy within Wimmera Health Care Group for the experiences of residents, family members and staff. By identifying with the worlds of customers and employees, we hoped the organisation would be motivated to leverage key opportunities and work to remove operational constraints.
To do this, we created a series of experiential artefacts to represent the defining service experiences of residents, families and staff members. Together with an insights report, these visuals represented key points of opportunity along the customer journey and within the operational model.
Using these artefacts in combination with analyses of the competitive landscape, market and government reforms, we facilitated a co-design workshop where a new service and operating model was developed collaboratively with staff.
Our service blueprint was used as a prototyping tool, allowing participants to generate scenarios around specific components of the service ecosystem and to simulate the impact of hypothetical changes. Our experiential artefacts were used to build requirements about the ideal service experiences of residents, families and staff members.
By the conclusion of the workshop, we had a draft model of care which met the needs of all stakeholders and was financially viable for the organisation to implement. We took this draft away and refined it into a vision for the future operational and service system that informed the re-design of the Wimmera Health Care Group business model.
Wimmera Health Care Group is in the process of implementing their new business, service and operating model. The power of in-depth, comprehensive research and a service design approach to transformation will continue to inform future Aged Care reform initiatives in the region.
The work will mean significant improvements in the way older Australians and their families in the area experience the transition to aged care.
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