This week Carrie and Kell look at the benefits of aged care services taking a Collaborative Approach as we continue looking at what makes good business practice for community based aged care programs. 

These days you need to look at more than just what your own service can offer to a client. After all, with Home Care Packages the individual now ‘owns’ the package rather than the organisation, if you aren’t giving them what they both need and want you may find them taking their package to another more flexible provider.

You can’t be all things to all people.  Your main client group may be from one cultural group but all of a sudden you have a client from a minority group, with different needs and desires. How do you support their preferences?

You might be really good at providing activities, domestic assistance and social support to your client base but you really can’t provide delicious meals that the clients desire. What do you do?

Consumers may request services from another specific provider, e.g. they want to organise or retain their own cleaner.

Recognise that:

  • You don’t need to do everything, e.g. perhaps you are good at case management or meals and domestic assistance but don’t have the staff available for transport. Work with your strengths rather than over-stretching yourself.
  • Brokerage arrangements can go both ways, you can broker services e.g. domestic assistance, to another organisation who manages a package on behalf of a consumer or you can do as described previously, broker out to an organisation for transport.
  • You can’t be all things to all people, this is not efficient or effective. Every consumer is a unique individual with varying needs and wants. We draw this out from them in the assessment and planning process, if they raise a desire that you don’t or can’t provide, rather than ignore this explore other options that might be able to fulfil this.

An example of a service that your organisation may not be able to directly fulfil for a client is something like accompanying a client to church on Sundays – you may not have staff available who can do this or it may be costly to be managed within their package, however you may be able to contact the volunteer services or the church directly to arrange opportunities for the person to attend.

  • The above example demonstrates that you don’t need to directly employ all staff. It may be more effective to use volunteers, students (who are generally volunteers), brokerage arrangements or subcontractors.
  • Look for local solutions – family, as well as others such as neighbours and friends.
  • Stakeholder mapping is important, you need to know who is out there and how they are accessed. Stakeholders can be cultural and recreational organisations, wider community organisations or clubs, health services, independent providers of services (cleaner), small businesses (lawn mowing, mobile hairdressing, bus or bodie bus in NT or even charter plane services) and other service providers such as larger aged and disability organisations.


Brokerage is an arrangement between two parties. One who holds the funds and package of a consumer and the other who provides a service on behalf of the first organisation.

For example:

Organisation A manages a package for Betty. Betty receives many of her support services from Organisation A however Betty would like to access a weekly activities program hosted by Organisation B.

In it’s simplest form, Organisation B invoices Organisation A for Betty’s time spent at the activity which is applied against her package.

This can be applied across a larger of people and is beneficial as previously stated, organisations don’t have to be all things to all people. Organisations such as senior citizens clubs may be an example of this type of service.

So how do you broker successfully?

  • Have a written agreement, never just rely on a verbal agreement because the package manger is responsible for effective management of the consumers package and services.
  • Agree on the price for services, times, hours, deliverables, payment methods and a ensure open communication to minimise the potential for things to go wrong. That is kept up to date.
  • Use the KISS method – having said that you need a written agreement make sure it is simple, straight forward and easy for everyone to understand. This is not the time for 57 pages of legal jargon and endless small print.
  • Shared work protocols and MOU’s (Memorandums of Understanding) are a great idea for organisations that you work with on a regular basis, especially where there are shared responsibilities eg local health centres and clinics. A SWP is an agreement between the organisations on the ground while an MoU is signed off at a higher level eg between head offices of both organisations.
  • Prices and price lists. If you will be doing the brokerage you need to identify not only your cost of providing a service but also the price you will charge for that service. It is good if this can be developed into a price list that can be forwarded to other organisations should they enquire about your services.

Be prepared otherwise you may find yourself undercharging for brokered services.

Collaborative approaches are always better than trying to do too much with too little. Less effective for the organisation and the consumer.

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

CD013: Strategic Planning for Aged Care Services

CD014: The Importance of Aged Care Budgets

CD016: Marketing and Promotion for Aged Care Services

Check out resources on our membership site.

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Carrie and Kell

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