Aged care ‘ripe for change’

The aged care sector is on the cusp of an innovation revolution and newly appointed Bethanie chief of strategy and innovation Shane Ogilvie will guide the provider on the journey.

Bethanie’s new chief of strategy and innovation Shane Ogilvie explains the aged care provider’s innovation journey


Ogilvie, who has multi sector experience integrating technology into the finance, defence, mining and manufacturing, says with demand for aged care increasing and the cost rising, the industry was “ripe for change”.

The not-for-profit operates runs retirement villages, aged care facilities, home and community care and community housing, growing from a single property in 1954 to now having operations in 20 locations between Geraldton and Bunbury.

Embarking on a revolution is not something Bethanie wants to do alone, however, with Ogilvie keen to explore partnerships with other industry players, telcos, universities, governments and technology companies.

He also wants to work with start-ups, scale ups and tech companies, which he has leveraged successfully to solve problems in previous roles at Bankwest and shipbuilder Austal.

At the heart of the partnerships will be developing innovative ways to “look after our customers, look after our colleagues and look after our built form and other assets”.

“If we think about the aged care industry, my perception of it as a relatively new entrant is that it’s extremely collegiate,” he says.

“The people who work in the industry genuinely care about their customers and they want to do things as best as they can. They understand that there’s not millions of millions of dollars to be made in this industry, and that’s not why we’re in the industry, we’re here to look after people.

“So the competitive barriers that exist in some other industries aren’t as strong in the industry we have today, so forming groups with other industry players as we move forward is going to be going to be crucial to giving us the critical size to be able to develop new technologies.”

Innovation will come for the benefit of both staff and customers, he says, with the focus on achieving a better customer experience; safer and easier jobs for staff and through smarter building technology.

“All those three things together will help us hopefully change the stigma associated with ageing, that it’s getting old when it’s not, it’s, it’s just going through your life.”

Bethanie started its journey about three years ago and is already experimenting with virtual reality in some of its facilities, and has changed the way nurses and support staff interact with customers.

“You can sit in your armchair in your in your room or in the in the common room, you put on your on your goggles and the next thing you know you’re sitting on the canals of Venice or you’re on a cruise ship or you’re walking through the Amazon jungle,” he says.

“So if you if you really love travelling, or there’s somewhere you really wanted to go, then we can offer that experience to you in the facility despite mobility constraints”

While the next phase of changes won’t happen overnight, Ogilvie says Bethanie’s strategic plan outlines a vision to enhance the ageing experience for a million Australians by 2030.

“That’s a really big hairy audacious goal for an organisation the size we are today,” he says.

“But by unpacking all of the assets that we have, both in physical assets and human assets, we can understand how we can leverage those and partner with other organisations and industry participants to be able to deliver on that mission.”

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