So far in this series we’ve looked at understanding your market and also your product which is great. However, without having a plan around using this knowledge it’s not much use to you. This week Carrie investigates the value of strategic planning for aged care services and the basics of developing a strategic plan with Donna Cross.

Donna is the managing director of CDCS. She has huge amounts of experience in business and strategic planning. And is the ‘go to’ person in the business on all things relating to governance and strategic.

The FOCUS approach to Strategic Planning

Donna discusses using the ‘FOCUS’ approach to strategic planning.

F = ‘find out’ what is going to take the service forward, ‘focus’ on the things that will make a big difference and become clear about the direction you want to take the service.

O = Opportunity, identify what are the opportunities that you can make use of that will take your service forward.

C = ‘Challenges’ should be identified; although the challenges faced by aged care services appear to be ongoing at the moment, knowing and naming them can lead to identifying those opportunities mentioned above. It’s a matter of saying “well this is the situation, how can we make it work for us and our clients”.

U = looks at ‘unlocking’ the potential. Maintaining the theme of opportunity, a good strategic approach is to look at the potential in your organisation, your staff and their skill sets and also in the emerging trends within your industry. Identify it and then unlock that potential.

S = ‘Setting’ the path. Once you have identified opportunities, challenges and the potential within your organisation or industry, you should set a clear path for making use of this insight.

And don’t forget that strategic planning shouldn’t be done in isolation. It needs to include input from staff and other relevant stakeholders. This way you will have more ‘buy-in’ from those who are the intended audience.

Strategic Intent V Strategic Plan – What is the Difference?

Strategic Intent

A Strategic Intent is a way of communicating clearly the direction of your organisation to external audience, e.g. clients or other stakeholders.

It is generally an enticing document, probably not more than four or five pages. It includes things like the vision of the organisation. The key goals that you’re looking to achieve over a period of time. Some brief information about the values and the key actions of how you’re going to take that forward.

Here is an example of a Strategic Intent from ‘Fight Dementia’ organisation.

A Strategic Plan

A Strategic Plan is an all-encompassing, significant plan, over usually a period of three to five years. Under that sits your individual service plans which should align to your overall strategic plan. In the Strategic Plan you look at the nitty gritty. That’s where you’re going to put things like your strategic indicators which are linked to your actions, and your outcomes. That level of detail is really what is there for your team to use, to guide them, going forward.

Here are examples of Strategic Plans from Cancer Australia and Queensland Health.

Your Strategic Plan should include:

Your Vision, a brief statement about what your service vision is. Also define your purpose, including a Purpose Statement is helpful to your readership.

It should have a little bit of background. You might have an external readership and they need to know what your scope of service is, what communities or areas do you cover, or where are you situated.

It might also include a list of the services that you provide. This is often incorporated into the background.

The other information that would usually be incorporated into the strategic plan would be things like your core values. You may also include linkages to other plans, within a larger organisation, such as within a Regional or Shire Council, there may be a statement about where your aged care strategic plan sits within the council plan for example.

Then come the key focus areas or key goal areas, whatever you want to call them, but they are your top level. The strategic objectives come under that.

So you have your goals, your objectives and then you’ve got your strategies that follow on from there.

Finally, you need to have linked to that, the outcomes that you’re looking to achieve and the indicators that are going to tell you whether or not you’ve achieved them.

Strategic planning has changed a lot over the course of the last 10 years. It’s now a lot leaner. Generally, there’s a trend away from large bulky documents that nobody tends to read. So think about making your strategic plan as lean and clear as possible.

Here’s a great example of a single page Strategic Plan from the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, that at first glance might appear to be simply a Strategic Intent but has all the essential information of a Strategic Plan.

We hope this episode has been helpful to you. If you would like to access support from CDCS to develop your organisation’s strategic plan, please contact us via this website or email

This Podcast Episode is part of a series about the business side of community aged care. Check out the other podcasts on this topic:

CD011: Understanding Your Market

CD012: Understanding Your Product

CD014: The Importance of Aged Care Budgets

CD015: Taking a Collaborative Approach

CD016: Marketing and Promotion for Aged Care Services

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Carrie and Kell

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