“A life’s work for nothing”: senior executives being driven out of the sector in the wake of Royal Commission – 60% to leave in next five years

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If you are a subscriber to our Daily COMMISSION newsletter on the Royal Commission, you would be aware of the increasing despair by aged care senior executives about the future.

It is important that everybody in the retirement living in aged care sector be aware of the impending collision about to take place, a sector without leadership depth.

It is demonstrated by an email we received last week from a CEO of a large For Profit aged care provider. He says in the past 7 days, he has had conversations with three very experienced and well-intentioned aged care executives which has given him cause for concern.

Here is his letter in full:

“The Royal Commission and the terms of reference sought to uncover failure. The process and questioning in addition to the reporting has left one colleague feeling like ‘the way this is being reported and the Commission progressing, it feels like my life’s work in the sector has been for nothing’. The context for the comment was that when the failure in one home is extended to an implied assumption it was then a sector wide failure seems to be impacting.”

“Another commented that they had never experienced such negativity in the sector. Mental health issues, depression, sadness, and the loss of good people to other sectors, all at senior levels and in their opinion good quality people.”

“The last comment from a very experienced colleague left me feeling that those who have dedicated so much of their working life to the sector and made massive contributions can be assumed a failure because of one incident. Every provider has failed, most not through system or governance but through the poor actions of an individual, this can’t be excused and must be acted on and we would all prefer such this not to occur however how is it as an industry we can achieve what as a society we can’t?”

“In an industry where people care for people, I hope that as an industry we can survive, look after each other, so we can continue to care for the residents who deserve the best care and better care.” 

“Does the industry have ‘the energy and excitement and will to make these changes’, I think very sadly with all that is transpiring we should be asking each other ‘Are you OK?’, because right now for a good majority the answer is no to both.”

They are powerful comments that raise issues about both mental health in the sector and a wider concern about where the next generation of executives will come from.

By our back-of-envelope calculations, we expect to see an exodus of experienced CEOs from the 800-plus RAC operators in the sector – up to 60% – within three to five years.

The current middle management will then be expected to fill the gaps, but the sector does not have the same ‘capacity to pay’ as other industries such as banking.

How will the sector attract the talent required to lead the “fundamental overhaul of the design” of the system that the Commissioners have promised?