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Starting Out in the Aged Care Sector
If you're thinking about starting your own business, you may be considering the aged-care industry. Worth $3 billion each year in New Zealand and growing at 5 per cent per annum, it's an attractive option. In fact, those over 65 are the wealthiest segment of the New Zealand population, expected to spend $39 billion each year by 2031, and they are increasingly funding and making decisions about their own care into the future.
It's also possible that you've been exposed to the aged-care industry through a loved one entering care or have a wish to start a business that improves people's lives. Thankfully, the aged-care industry is potentially very rewarding both emotionally and financially. Here's what you need to know as you're starting out.
Government and the public are very concerned with the way society's vulnerable are treated. This means that aged care is subject to a lot of regulation. If you're planning to enter the industry, you must first understand the regulations. Facilities require certification whether they're completely new or under new ownership, so it's important to find out the audit requirements.
If you're planning to operate as a sole trader, you must also understand which services you can offer based on your level of education. For example, you may not be able to offer medication management if you don't have a nursing qualification. If you are planning to open a small business offering in-home care, make sure you know what you're legally allowed to provide to customers.
New Business or Existing Business
Your next decision should be about whether to start a new business or buy an existing one. An existing business offers a ready-made customer base and brand reputation. A new business may give you opportunities to innovate that you might not have in an existing business with existing staff.
If you're new to the industry, an existing business does offer further benefits. You will have experienced staff behind you who have the education and knowledge to keep your business running smoothly. They will be able to guide you through your first steps into the industry and make sure you are not making major missteps.
You may also want to consider a franchise. Franchises exist that offer in-home care to the large portion of the elderly population who want to stay in their homes as long as possible. Franchises often offer help with marketing and training as well and will be able to assist you in identifying any further education you need.
Aged care is not just limited to in-home care and residential homes. New opportunities are arising as the Baby Boomers reach 65 and want to continue to enjoy life as they age. Think about the things you love, and brainstorm how this can be marketed to elderly people. Yoga and meditation for retirement villages can be marketed as helping prevent dementia. One Australian entrepreneur started Medical Travel Assistance, traveling with elderly people to offer companionship and assistance with medical problems.
Technological innovations also have the potential to change the industry and become very successful. The growing aged population means that the sector is looking for ways to be more efficient, monitor residents more easily and compensate for staffing shortages in homes. Things like alert buttons and mobility scooters have helped many elderly people, and new innovations in these sorts of technological innovations will continue to be successful.
There is also the possibility of bringing different care models from overseas and introducing them to the New Zealand market. For example, America has group homes where elderly people live in renovated houses in small groups, requiring a smaller initial outlay for investors and an alternative living arrangement for residents.
Entrepreneurs who are interested in entering the aged-care sector have many opportunities to start a business that can grow into the future. The aging population means that there continues to be a strong demand for services, and innovative thinkers have the potential to build a lasting business that improves people's quality of life.
For further information, contact your nearest LINK Business Broking Office.