Latest industry developments

Ageing in the right place – a retirement village?

Where do older Australians want to live? To make their home?

The Global Centre of Modern Ageing (GCMA), a grand name for the research unit at Flinders University in Adelaide, has researched 1000+ people over the age of 55, asking what they want in a home. The answer:

“A place where I am comfortable, safe and stress free. A place where I continue to age independently and to grow culturally and in experience. A place where I want to be.”

Sound familiar?

The research confirmed what we already know:

  • We desire to stay at home even if circumstances change or needs increase with age
  • We don’t plan for our physical ‘enablement’ to remain at home
  • Cost and location were extremely important in the decision to move
  • The balance between affordability and needs is a key challenge

And went on to say they had developed a framework known as the House, Home, Haven framework.

This model recognises we require a personalised approach to our individual solutions and we require a solution to have a humancentric approach.

The house provides safety and comfort and for some, is also a financial asset.

Bringing freedom, choice, independence, emotional safety, familiarity and individuality.

A sanctuary entwined with self and complete belonging. A seemingly irreplaceable ‘sense of place’.

It identifies seven distinct needs of older Australians:

Do you find yourself like me shouting “that’s us, pick me, choose a Retirement Village”. It’s obvious isn’t it?


25% of the people surveyed felt there was a lack of viable alternatives to living at home.

What the…. no viable alternatives are you kidding?! 

Don’t Retirement Communities provide all of this? 

Clearly we in the sector know this but why doesn’t the wider community?

GCMA went on to say the opportunities for businesses lay in:

1. offering a personalised service and offering

2. being able to offer genuine and honest support

(This what we do as professional Village Managers and genuine people).

3. being able to really communicate the value of the housing option

This requires work by operators – and ourselves.

Latest industry developments

State Village Management Professional Development kicks off in 18 days from now

Our 2020 DCM Institute PD days commence in Brisbane on 2 March, and then roll across the country.

All your surveys asked for more! So, you will see that we have increased the number PD days from three to four this year.

Some of the venues have changed because they couldn’t provide a big enough room. (After just 10 months, we now have 340 Village Managers enrolled).

For instance, we had 120 village managers at the Novotel Darling Harbour in Sydney last November and it was ‘squeezie’, so now we are at the five-star Hilton!

All the programs across each of the states and the speakers have been booked for the year as well.

Check out the program HERE. It’s not too late to join us.

And remember, if you are a Village Manager in NSW and you are a member of the DCM Institute, you, your operator and your village will have ticked the mandated training box for the new regs requiring compliance to the Rules of Conduct that commenced January 1st.

For all states, you will also comply with the voluntary Code of Conduct.

An easy solution plus delivering you great career development.

Hope to see you at a PD in March!

Key things to help you everyday

“Beware of little expenses; a small leak can sink a ship!” — Benjamin Franklin

Capital expenditure budget planning.

There have been many many lessons I have learned in my retirement community management journey over the last couple of decades but of the most important has been, taking a very planned and careful approach to capital expenditure budget planning.

It’s the only way to avoid the headaches and the potential of future embarrassment.

If you are under QLD legislation and need to abide by the Quantity Surveyor requirements or in NSW where the new Asset Management Plan legislation this will dictate some of these steps for you.

Whether you are preparing per contractual requirements of Capital Replacement Funds or internally for operator funding – we need to start early, being consultative and thorough to head off what can easily induce great pain!

This list of tips looks long, but much of it is common sense – but easily missed. When planning to review your Capital Expenditure budget consider:

  • Consulting internal stakeholders – finance, development, senior managers to understand if they have “projects” that you are unaware of that may impact the budget
  • Consulting the resident community – this could be via resident committees, feedback process, survey results, focus group morning teas. I know a couple of great organisations that hold a strategic planning morning with their residents every second year to gain clarity on where the residents see the village needs in five to 10 years.
  • Undertake a thorough inspection of the village – if you are not confident in undertaking this process, consider the services of a quantity surveyor or building inspector to assist
  • Review Contractor arrangements and suggestions for future works
  • Check for new legislative requirements – not just Retirement Village Acts requirements
  • Consider market trends and consumer expectations to ensure the village remains attractive and in good repair
  • Allow enough time to get multiple quotes for projects
  • Review the number of repairs carefully, especially in NSW, whether there are items that should be replaced
  • Consider staging plan options for major works
  • Check resident agreements and internal policy requirements
  • Check lifespan specifications for major pieces of infrastructure
  • Consider timelines: the requirements next 12 months, three to five years and five to 10 years
  • Review time – once you have a draft budget completed – consult again – allow time and be prepared to do this a number of times

Capital expenditure in our sector has often been one of those ad hoc, non-focus areas of the business as the accountants often view it as a non return on investment. 

However another great lesson is the better the village is maintained and the asset improved the happier the residents, the more referrals, the quicker the sales and the higher the price!  Win win…

Reporting Results

Retirement villages looking good at the Royal Commission

‘New thinking’ is emerging at the Royal Commission into Aged Care, and retirement villages are looking good!

The Commissioners have developed a model and specifications for housing and support for ageing Australians in the last 10 to 15 years of life.

Senior Counsel Assisting Peter Gray QC (pictured above) stated in Adelaide this week that there are eight key ideas proposed by the Commissioners on how the aged care system should be fundamentally changed.

The whole push is to get in early and support people years before they get truly old and frail.

Make their homes better to live in so they don’t have falls etc. Guide them to look after themselves better, and earlier, by having companionship, getting out more, getting ahead of illness.

The Commissioners want a supportive pathway for older Australians to age. They wish to separate accommodation and care as costs to the government and that care will start very early concentrating on wellness and reablement, for which the government will contribute funds.

Here is part of the list; I suggest you think how ‘retirement villages’ can deliver these services:

  • create a care stream for services delivered either in the home or in more flexible and less institutional forms of residential care
  • move to individualised funding for care matched to need within the care stream, irrespective of setting
  • streamline access to low intensity and cost-effective support services to support a large number of older people to retain their independence
  • (the government to) fund interventions to help restore functioning, provide respite and delay or prevent progression to more intensive forms of care
  • support older people and their families to understand the (aged care) system and get the services and care they need

Retirement villages provide separate accommodation. Village management can provide a ‘care concierge’. Villages can provide basic but good wellness centres – gyms etc.

Individualised funding is ideal for the retirement village sector.

Separate funding for accommodation and care is ideal for the retirement village sector.

An early ‘system navigator’ is ideal for the retirement village sector.

The role of the Village Manager will be vital in this vision, a genuine ‘value’ enhancement that will elevate it as a profession.

Exciting times.