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Business Opportunities in Seniors Living & Aged Care: Malaysian-South Australian Engagement

When Malaysians speak about nursing homes, the image that comes to mind is that of a converted bungalow with a hospice set-up of a few beds, some medical equipment and a small staff – trained in nursing if you are lucky – to attend to your needs. Your free time is spent in bed or watching the television in a drab and cheerless atmosphere. That sums up the stigma the average Malaysian have on retirement living. In a nutshell, retirement living is synonym to “being sick and going to a nursing home to pass on”.

According to PK Chin, an advisor to the Government of South Australia based here in Malaysia, that description is to be expected. But with the rapid growth of the Malaysian ageing population and the increasing necessity for the aged care industry to transform and elevate itself, PK in collaboration with Aged Care Group aim to change that perception. With a background in retirement village development in Australia, he has a keen interest to encourage stakeholders in Malaysia to engage with their South Australian counterparts to innovate the industry.

On his presentation – with Carol Yip, CEO of Aged Care Group (ACG) – at the “Business Opportunities in Malaysia: Seniors Living & Aged Care” seminar held in Adelaide, May 2016, he stated that participants had expressed keen interest in engaging with Malaysian industry leaders to develop the nation’s senior living and aged care industry. Given that the quality of services offered by aged care providers in Malaysia – with the exception of bigger establishments – often fall below market expectations and that the industry is in dire need to develop more rapidly, there is much to be gained from the partnership.

Carol Yip, in her presentation on “Malaysia’s Ageing Landscape” mentioned that Australian businesses have to familiarise themselves with the environment of culture and sentiments of senior living and ageing in Malaysia. As the Malaysian setting is different, the Australian businesses need to adapt a model to meet the Malaysian market sentiment and environment.

The seminar brought together 35 participants mainly from the healthcare sector, public and private, to discuss various challenges facing the Malaysian aged care industry. The event highlighted that currently in Malaysia, most of the retirement living developments are spearheaded by the private sector. The Malaysian-South Australian engagement would open up many opportunities through skills sharing and operating experience.

The engagement supported by the Government of South Australia, which was evident with the attendance of Zoe Bettison, Minister of Ageing. Training and development for quality care solutions were the key areas of focus, recognising the potential in transferring skills, training and technology to bolster these areas.

Malaysian stakeholders need to heighten their awareness and be educated on senior living and aged care. While not mutually exclusive from the other, senior living and aged care carry different emphasis. Senior living is defined as people living in a community with facilities that encourage and enable healthy social interaction, while aged care is in reference to one’s care to age-related issues.

PK said, “Seniors living and aged care doesn’t mean going to a nursing home or an old folk’s home. Senior living offers an alternative lifestyle that offers independence while at the same time providing social inclusion with the community.”

Malaysian stakeholders interested in tapping into the market should recognise that development of communities and access to care services is the key factor to move forward. While industry leaders, especially those involved in medical tourism, education & training, existing medical and financial institutions, F&B and etc., are essential to building the senior living and aged care industry, PK stated that accreditation and training would be the initial areas to be developed should collaborations between the respective stakeholders come to fruition.

The outcome of the seminar brought through on-going discussions aimed at a potential lead-up to a South Australian-led trade mission to Malaysia at the end of July. Aged Care Group (a company established in the field of aged care in Malaysia), together with PK Chin will play a role in the trade mission to facilitate the engagement with the State Government, Austrade and Malaysia Australia Business Council (MABC). The facilitation will provide greater in-depth guidance for the business participants from Adelaide and the State Government to engage Malaysia’s environment and industry leaders.

To assist in the a better collaboration, ACG will facilitate the engagement of business match-ups. This is to help Australian businesses better understand the landscape and the gaps that need to be filled to work effectively with Malaysian Stakeholders.

Carol said, “Business match making is like a marriage. You need to manage expectations in order to find the right fit and create a good synergistic relationship that is meaningful and lasting.” For example, development of a ViTA concept in Malaysia is envisioned as one such potential outcome from these collaborations. ViTA is a state of the art centre that supports older people to rehabilitate, regain health and live good lives which resulted from a partnership between ACH Group, SA Health and Flinders University in South Australia. It is a concept in rehabilitation which integrates health, aged care and education together.

In conclusion, business people in the sector in South Australia – with the support of their State Government – are encouraged to collaborate further with Malaysian and South East Asian industry players so that common objectives will create speedier market development. Australian businesses interested to collaborate on a commercial level with Malaysian parties are further encouraged as it will create tangible and real business opportunities. It will also attract other market participant like banks and insurance companies to come into this ecosystem. The idea is that in time, this will create a better awareness and a more holistic approach to seniors living and aged care.



Mark Your Interest

Businesses, organisations and institutions who are keen to participate in the July 2016 Trade Mission in Kuala Lumpur and Penang can contact Ms. Shalini from Aged Care Group at shalini@agedcare.com.my or call +603-2142 1666 for more information.

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