Let’s Get Care: Discovering a Blue Ocean in Home Care Packages

4 years ago
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Value innovation is the cornerstone of blue ocean strategy. We call it value innovation because instead of focusing on beating the competition, you focus on making the competition irrelevant by creating a leap in value for buyers and your company, thereby opening up new and uncontested market space.

— W Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne, Blue Ocean Strategy

Up until the not so distant past, we were very similar to the majority of Home Care Package Providers today. As a traditional Provider, we hosted Home Care Packages, clients were assigned a Case Manager, and we chose and scheduled quality services on a client’s behalf in-line with their Care Plan. We prided ourselves on our five-star, customer-centric, concierge style service.

Also, like most Providers during the period leading up to deregulation, we had many Y2K moments of wondering what life would be like after February 2017. Would the introduction of consumer-directed care change everything?

We wanted to find a way to stand out in what was predicted to be a whole new landscape. We were sure that deregulation was an opportunity, but we knew it would be challenging as new competitors entered the marketplace. We offered great services, and cared about clients—but didn’t everyone? Sure we knew we could advertise and spend more on marketing, but wouldn’t everyone else do that too?

We realised that we had to find a different way. We decided that we didn’t want to just beat the competition, we wanted to create a whole new model in the Home Care Package space.

Value innovation
We took it upon ourselves to think differently. Thankfully we were introduced to a book, called Blue Ocean Strategy, which is like a bible to us now. Inspired and with a new way of looking at a problem, we got busy with a business model canvas and a series of innovation thinking workshops. Through direct input from our clients and others over the age of 65, we validated our assumptions about what we thought was—and wasn’t—important. Our goal was to gain deep insights into our potential customer base through a process called customer validation.

Challenging our assumptions
Through our customer validation process we systematically identified which of our assumptions held true and which didn’t. Our most valuable insight came when the concept of ‘full service care management’ was discussed. The varying answers and responses suggested that our one-size-fits-all full service approach was not actually working, and there were quite a few who really didn’t want what we were offering.

People asked us why they couldn’t manage their care services themselves. They said they didn’t need a case manager and it was more efficient for them to do it. Also, why did they have to use our gardener, for example, and not Bob (who they’d had for years and by the way a lot cheaper)? When we dug deeper, it all came down to independence. People wanted to age at home on their own terms, and that included freedom of choice and actively participating in their care management. Plus, it would reduce their costs and keep their brain active.

We, like other Providers, used to believe that the gold standard of Home Care Packages was full care management, with superior service. Our thinking has changed dramatically. We now think it’s kind of like being forced to fly with Qantas when you’d prefer to go Jetstar and choose your own add-ons—and save money!

A new model for Home Care Packages
Building on our customer insights, Let’s Get Care, our self-managed brand, was born and the growth has been nothing short of explosive. The best part is that while we know it’s certainly not for everyone, it is for those who can self-manage right now. If an individual’s situation changes and they require full care management in the future, then we can switch them to our original full care management brand.

Our thinking has changed; for us innovation really came down to listening to our customers and delivering what they need.

With innovation there will be challenges
Self-managed is the fastest growing segment of our business. We believe that every Home Care Package Provider should be offering some form of self-managed service.

Of course, due to its newness, self-management raises some interesting challenges to ensuring quality of care and compliance. For example, we needed to ensure people are not endangering themselves by choosing dodgy service providers, and we’ve created an efficient process and system to manage this. We’ve also had to invest heavily into educational resources as well as staff to train clients on how to manage their package. New systems and processes have been created in every department.

Despite the challenges, we see self-managed as a necessary option for Home Care Package holders. It truly allows individuals to maintain the independence which they are so determined to hold onto as they age, and rightfully so—it’s actually scarier than death.

Michael Argent
Managing Director
Let’s Get Care