What the research tells us

COVID-19: The positive influence on retirement communities….

On a weekly basis, I am delighted to receive emails from participants in the Village Management Professional Development program about the many wonderful initiatives that are being undertaken to support retirement living residents in their villages.

Tracey Palser, the Village Manager at Catalina Village on the NSW North Coast, shared with me a simple but yet very much appreciated strategy she has put in place for the dual benefit of residents and local food suppliers. 

On a Friday afternoon, the local seafood truck, a local Fruit & Veg truck and now a coffee van visit the village. This activity has created for the residents the opportunity to gather socially (social distanced of course), support local business and maintain their sense of community.

They have also run a Better Together campaign where residents are able to request or identify other residents in the community that may benefit from some help or just a kind thought.  

It really showcases the benefits of living in small communities where neighbours still help neighbours.

See the picture – a resident had been away nine weeks having medical treatment and upon return, one of their amazingly talented residents created the beautiful Welcome Home card, taking it around to be signed by sanitised hands across the village and delivered to her door along with these cheery balloons.  

This time in suburban Queensland, the team at Wesley Missions’ Wheller on the Park have been putting in place many activities to keep their community engaged.

Balcony exercises, pavement line dancing, a roaming poet, ladies’ choir sing-a-long, a musical duo – these all perform at various locations around the village. They also had a special appearance from Brisbane Jazz Club and the Queensland Symphony Orchestra.  Watch the video here.

The effort and creativity that is being displayed around the country is absolutely heart-warming – there is certainly no shortage of ideas. 

Key things to help you everyday

Time to adjust sales strategies and techniques – some practical tips

Having witnessed from afar the impact on retirement living sales during the 1980’s recession and personally been knee-deep in the impact the GFC had on retirement sales, I am confident that along with the many changes we are facing to the operations of villages, we too need to be adjusting in our sales strategies during the pandemic phase.

These changes will not only serve you well in the current climate but may also instigate strategies that will remain in your tool kit for the long term.

1. Stop selling. Start helping.

No one likes being sold to (and definitely not during a global pandemic). But people do tend to be grateful for genuine help and concern.

Move your sales approach from being focused on you, your agenda, and your product to being focused on your client. How can you help them? What help or knowledge may your organisation be able to provide during the pandemic? After all we are skilled in assisting this cohort!

2. Ask open questions

Ask open questions that focus on them and provide greater opportunity for engagement and connection such as…

  • How are you and your family adjusting to social distancing measures?
  • What sort of activities have you been able to keep up? 
  • What do you miss most?
  • Have you watched or read anything good lately?
  • Is there anything you have found useful during these times?
  • Do you need help in finding information or services?
  • Have you been running low on any supplies or found them difficult to get?
  • How can I help/be of service to you right now?

Listen to their answers. This will provide great opportunity for you or your organisation to perhaps go above and beyond – and be sure if they need help, help them – get them answers to their questions, follow up in a meaningful way, drop off a care package at their door.

3. Make an effort to move from face-to-face to voice-to-voice to (virtual) face-to-face.

Put some thought into who and how you are going to connect with various groups in your database. Make sure you add in the addition of some virtual activities. 

Obviously, a phone call is more personal than an email but a virtual connection is more personal again than a phone call. If your clients are practicing social distancing, then there is a chance they too are craving the visual contact. 

For you it also allows you to continue to put the face to a name and use their visual cues as signals during your discussion.

Apps like Zoom or Facetime are already being used to keep in touch with family and friends, so they are poised to accept this sort of communication from businesses as well.

4. Include more virtual events in your overall event planning.

COVID-19 has taught us nothing is out of the question – socially many of us have been having wine nights, book club, craft afternoons, exercise activity via an app like Zoom. So, interacting in these ways for information sessions, interviews, meet the neighbor events or get to know the team afternoons are certainly not out of the question either. Be creative – let your imagination run free – nothing ventured, nothing gained!

4. Clean up/update your CRM – and keep it updated.

No more excuses. You now have the time to clean up your CRM – anyone who knows me well knows I am a passionate CRM junkie. In my own personal experience, I have seen the strong correlation between good CRM management and long-term sales success time after time.

Again, you have the time right now. So, after every call – even the long ones – get in the habit of immediately updating the contact record in your database with notes, info on the follow-up actions, and any relevant tasks.

Importantly, put some time and thought into the categorising of each individual client – this is key in maintaining the most appropriate communication strategy for each individual.  

5. Get to know your community

With a little extra time on your hands, use this time to establish authentic connections with local influencers – butcher, baker, chemist, café, dress shop, hairdresser, doctor, physio etc. Find out from them how you can help them attract your target market, share with them the benefits of community living, share how passionate you are about the new shop local campaign – the opportunities are endless.

Further to this, look for opportunities to work with local community groups or councils on joint initiatives or apply for a community grants to run a program from the village for seniors in the wider community.

I am sure your residents will be a great source of inspiration for this activity. Establish your organisation as a strong part of the local community fabric.

Reporting Results

Challenged for time to sign up and implement the Retirement Living Code of Conduct? Now you have an extension – provisional registration is now available

The Code of Conduct is an important step in professionalising the retirement living sector. It provides a road map for best practice in resident relations and operations.

It was formally introduced five months ago by Leading Aged Services Australia (LASA) and the Retirement Living Council (RLC). More than 600 villages have now signed up – a great start. They include Bolton Clarke, Oak Tree, IRT, Goodwin, Southern Cross Care WA, Masonic Care WA, Living Choice, Ryman Healthcare, Aveo, Lendlease, Stockland, Australian Unity and RetireAustralia.

However, this leaves 1,600 villages to go. To help villages, a provisional period has been established, making it easier for you to go through the process.

The RLC’s Policy and Communications Officer – Retirement Living, Patrick Tilley, says the provisional period – which could range from six up to 12 months if approved by the Code Administrator, Dr Elizabeth Lanyon, will give smaller operators the time they need to become Code compliant.

Our DCM Institute Village Management Professional Development Program makes the Code a lot simpler; we provide participants with the tools and resources to become Code compliant.

Please get in touch with Judy Martin if you would like to know more about how to access these tools.

To find out more about the Code and Provisional Registration, click here.

Latest industry developments

We’re excited – you will be too, with our new, upgraded DCMI Knowledge Centre portal

It is really important for us to project the most professional image for Village Managers. A big part of this is the presentation and ‘smarts’ behind our website – for us and for you.

This week has seen the big achievement for our DCM Institute team with the launch of our latest in learning portals, the DCMI Knowledge Centre. Check it out HERE.

We think you will be impressed. It has been nine months in development since we discovered what we thought was the best when we were in Washington DC last year visiting Leading Age, the peak association over there and we saw their learning systems.

The new portal will offer existing participants in our Village Management Professional Development a truly great experience when you access your personal records – all of which have been transferred over from our old system, plus:

  • The latest learnings technology in our Knowledge Centre
  • The opportunity to personalise your learning journey
  • Retirement Living specific topics with a variety of learning elements – videos, articles, papers, interviews, resources and tools
  • An Online Resource Bank with over 150 operational resources, templates, policies and forms
  • An Online peer discussion board
  • 4 x Professional Development workshop days

Tailor your learning journey

It’s not just the launch of the new Knowledge Centre that is exciting but also the tweaks that we have made to the already successful annual professional development program. 

Over the coming months, the DCM Institute team will be working with a variety of Industry specialist partners to include additional topics of relevance to the Knowledge Centre, affording you the opportunity to tailor your learning journey to meet your individual skill development requirements and your interest areas.

These topics will further expand into areas such as sales, marketing, integrating care, infection control, business continuity, high rise asset management and more…