Perth and South Australia Village Networking Surges Forward

The DCM Institute have been pleased to facilitate another round of Village Networks in Perth and South Australia throughout the month of October.

In South Australia, a group of 14 passionate village professionals gathered at Lend Lease Vermont Estate for morning tea and a guest speaker. 

They heard from representatives at Wellbeing SA and Calvary Medibank about the new My Home Hospital service they have developed, being offered to all South Australians. 

This is a new initiative, allowing residents to access acute hospital services in their own homes.   

Village Professionals in attendance were excited about this service and there was a lot of discussion on how this could benefit residents in Retirement Villages, that may prefer to be treated in the comfort of their home.

Pictured left to right: Patricia Sanford, Bev Kukura, Mubanga Kalonga, Mandy Williams, Soraya Kumail, Julie DeVries

Following the success of the September Village Network meetings in Perth, another two morning teas were held:

In North Perth at Masonic Care – Lawley Park Village; and

In South Perth at Southern Cross Care – Foley Village 

In both instances Village Professionals shared morning tea and chatted about current challenges, common experiences and ideas on the many aspects of village management and sales, as well as a few well-earned laughs.   

Latest industry developments Things to watch

Rental Villages on the Rise: Eureka – A Case Study

Last week, in our sister publication- SATURDAY, we covered the subject of Rental villages and how this sector is fast becoming an area to watch, with some interesting initiatives.

Cameron Taylor, Group Chief Operating Officer of Eureka Villages shares they are being driven by a new ‘Resident First’ approach across their 40 rental villages nationally – achieving 98% occupancy

They are focused on residents feeling safe, secure and engaged in a village that is now genuinely their home. He points out to do this, every decision they make has to come back to make the residents time in the village the best it can be.

The average time a resident stays in a rental village is now 3.3 years.

Results have spoken for themselves, with the business growing their underlying profit before tax by 31% to $7.36 million and a total revenue of $27.5 million.

Move to permanent employed Village Managers key

Central to the strategy has been a shift from a contractor Village Manager to an employee Village Manager.  Other key changes that have been implemented:

  • Village chefs have taken on a second in command role and maintenance staff have been brought in-house to act as support staff.
  • Village Managers can therefore look after the residents and the support staff look after the Village Manager

Kitchen Club Initiative

Another key initiative is the Kitchen Club – this is where their cooks and chefs have a platform to showcase meal ideas, menus and food presentation to raise the standards among each other.  It has become a real talking point and a brilliant outcome for the residents.

They have also found it to be a real art to find kitchen staff who enjoy being around older people.

Home Care

With the average tenure at their villages is currently 3.3 years and average age is 78 to 80.  Similar to Retirement Villages, they are finding if care isn’t offered, they are losing residents sooner to residential care options. 

Following a recent survey 59% of their residents are on care plans and it is definitely an area for them moving forward.

More rental villages is the future

With expansion plans in the immediate future, so are plans of re-designing the product – whilst still keeping building costs low.  Their current project in Wynnum, Brisbanefeatured in the picture above, has been designed with higher ceilings to 2.6m, natural lighting and full size kitchen and appliances.

To read the full story please click HERE.

Key things to help you everyday Village Operator

Resident conversations: stepping out of our own perspective

As busy village professionals our days are filled with many different conversations from the polite ‘good mornings, lovely day’ through to more serious conversations about troubling issues or resident concerns.  

Many of these conversations will ultimately require a solution. So, it is easy when we are busy to slip automatically into solution mode, thinking we will need to be able to have the answer to every problem, or situation that arises. 

With that, we tend to fall into the habit of listening to respond or resolve.  However, often this has the reverse effect, leaving the person sharing their issue or concern feeling like they haven’t been heard.  

In my experience, effective listening is one of the most critical skills needed when managing complex conversations. 

In today’s fast paced world, people in general are craving to be heard and sometimes it is just the process of feeling heard that will be enough to resolve a concern.  

Listening Strategies

Over the years I have gathered a long line of suggestions as I strive to be a better listener; here are the obvious ones:

  • Focus and pay attention 
  • Maintaining eye contact  
  • Be present, remove distractions where possible 
  • Being conscious of body language, lean into the conversation  
  • Let the person complete their sharing before responding  
  • Reconfirm your understanding of the conversation details 

Then there are the ones I like to remind myself of when dealing with difficult conversations:

  • Know that I don’t have to have all the answers
  • Listen to understand, not to respond 
  • Ask questions to gain a more detailed explanation 
  • Listen with the pursuit of understanding  
  • Step out of your own perspective  

It is this last step that can often be the hardest.  To be able to step away and see a situation from someone else’s perspective is a real skill.  

We all develop our understanding, based on our own lived experiences and knowledge to date.  Without the willingness to listen, to understand and consider another person’s perspective, it is often very hard to reach a ‘win: win’ conclusion.   

Simon Sinek a leading public speaker and optimist with many videos on YouTube and a number of TED talks, reinforces these ideas further in his video Be The Last to Speak

Click here to view the video, which I am sure you will all resonate with.

Retire Air – Ready for Take-off

Retire Air ready for boarding 

We recently came across an enlightening story amongst all the crazy Covid times that we believe will delight found on Retire Australia’s website.  Here is an excerpt from the story.

Glengowrie Retirement Village residents have their boarding passes ready to take in a taste of Cairo, Auckland and Athens.

No, they haven’t found a loophole in Australia’s border closures, instead Village Manager, Debbie Dean, created an around the world trip through a little bit of imagination and a lot of cardboard and crepe paper.

The Flight for Fun event transformed the village’s community centre into a boarding lounge, complete with a ‘Retire Air’ plane, offering all the perks of travel, including complimentary champagne, hot towel service and duty free.

On booking their trip, residents receive a very detailed travel pack, including a passport, travel itinerary, boarding passes, and immigration forms.

“The residents think I’m a bit crazy – but everyone has a lot of fun,” Debbie said. “These events are important to lift everyone’s spirits.”

On arrival at the community centre, residents produced their special passports and boarding passes to make it onto Retire Air.

Onboard everyone received first class treatment and experienced all the usual flight features.

I am sure there are many fantastic resident activities that have been done through Covid to keep your residents engaged and enjoying our fantastic communities.

To read more on this story click on the link.
Reporting Results Things to watch Village Operator

Building trust with the new customer remains key

As reported in our sister publication SATURDAY, last weekend, the pandemic and isolation has seen a buoyant sales market for many operators however the focus needs to remain on the customer relationship.

We are seeing new village customer’s as being older, now 76 to 80, compared to 10 years ago when 73 was the average age.  This means a shorter time in the village and more frequent rollovers, with the integrated model of care becoming more increasingly a game changer.

Today’s customer is wanting more, so therefore with 65% of Australian villages older than 25 years, the pool of potential customers open to older stock is shrinking.  Insert Community Apartment Projects (CAPS) and Land Lease villages who are targeting the younger over 55 population.

Village operators are continually having to lift their game in extra services and facilities to attract residents.  Christopher Rooke, Partner and Managing Partner of One Fell Swoop comments “People are cashed up and spending more wisely, with much higher expectations around the built form and lifestyle experience”.

First Impressions are Everything

These higher prices and demand for quality product are growing higher expectations of the customer.  They are demanding a more authentic and open communication approach, therefore educating prospects, throughout the sales process and right through to making their chosen village their new home is essential.

The article continues to explore how one operator in particular Village Glen founded by Chas Jacobsen and managed by Peter Nilsson, Chief Operating Officer explains the buyer journey can take years and therefore building a long-term relationship with the new customer is key.

Peter also says “In my view the brand is the village manager and the village staff, because they are the ones who can make a difference to the resident’s life. So for that reason we have the management team involved in the sales process.” 

As you all know in building these long-term relationships, you are building trust and by the time they move in feel part of the family.

To read the full article please click here.
Facility Manager

Trevor Beattie: Resident Happiness is my job satisfaction

In my time in the sector, I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to meet and cross paths with so many wonderful industry stalwarts, that continue to inspire my passion for the sector.  Trevor Beattie, Senior Village Manager, Lendlease is just one of them who’s path I am grateful to have crossed.

This week I had the great opportunity to spend some time with Trevor as he celebrated the commencement of his 23rd year as a Village Manager.

Prior to becoming a Village Manager, Trevor was a Sargent in the Victorian Police Force for some 19 years, working in the Video Operations Unit where he was part of the Hoddle Street investigations and other Homicide Scenes.  He finished his career in VicPol at the mounted police, so I asked him what made him think to be a Village Manager?

Trevor’s Journey with LendLease

He shared that he realised when his kids hit school age, he wanted to be present. By chance he had developed a great friendship with the Village Manager, Brian Robinson, at Pepper Tree Hill village where his mother-in-law lived.Brian suggested he give it a go.

So that he did. In 1998 Trevor started with Retirement by Design as Village Manager at Forrest Hill. He went onto manage Fiddlers Green Village and has now been the Village Manager at Waterford Park Village since 2012.  Trevor said, since the early days of Retirement by Design, he has been part of Lendlease Retirement Living as they’ve grown to be one of the largest, and arguably one of the best, village operators in Australia.

The new landscape

I asked Trevor what he thought had changed for Village Managers since 1998 he shared “as technology has improved out of sight and safety & risk are understandably a much higher priority, we do spend more time at our desks these days. The media’s role has evolved too, it seems to have a larger influence on resident opinion and the communities view of villages”.

Trevor also shared that resident knowledge and expectations have changed with residents being made more aware of their rights and their entitlements. They ask a lot more in-depth questions, and don’t hesitate to seek further information or get advice to ensure they are well informed.

Trevor has seen the industry move from broad acre villages to high-rise, the introduction of important industry frameworks like Accreditation, and witness to the retirement of many industry characters and contributors that were key to his own learnings.

It is obvious his dedication to community and the residents is paramount when I asked him what keeps his enthusiasm for his role it was simply “to make a difference in others’ lives”. 

He went onto share he thinks he is “addicted to the happiness that evolves from the resident community”. “It’s the fun times I look forward to – the functions with Elvis impersonators, singing, line dancing and the good old fashion fun we have as a community”.  There is also the annual Commemorative Anzac Day Service which the residents cherish being a part of.

Trevor shared how his family have been on this journey with him from the age of 6 his children have joined in community events. For the past 3 years his son an ex-serviceman has participated in the Anzac service at the village.

Trevor’s Advice for the future Village Managers

He went on to share that he also believes it is important to be an active participant of the industry.  Whether it is by:

  • Attending industry events
  • Maintaining a strong peer network to remind you of where you’ve come from, reminisce with and to be inspired by
  • Becoming an accreditation surveyor
  • Keeping abreast of industry activity or having the opportunity to mentor others

All of the above has been important to stay engaged with the wider industry.

I had to ask him if he had any advice for new village managers….

  • Acknowledge the experience of residents – if I have 255 residents at an average age of 84yrs old that is 21,420 years of experience I can tap into!
  • You can keep some of the people happy some of the time but not all of the people happy all of the time! And that is OK.

In our wrap up I jokingly asked Trevor, or Fossil as he is warmly known by his team, would you ever live in a village (I know I would)

And with the biggest smile he said, “well, Jodie, I will be. Pam & I have just put a deposit on a beautiful new home to be built at St Johns Rise by Benetas, just 20 minutes from the village”.

And with that I knew instantly why Trevor & I had bonded so quickly!

Our true joint love & belief in the benefits of community and long-term passion for the industry!

Key things to help you everyday Things to watch Village Operator

Getting consultation right is vital in building happy communities

Consultation is something most of the Retirement Village Acts around the country refer to as being a useful practice to achieve change.   

However, in my experience the consultation process can be an area of misunderstanding and even result in disputes between operators and residents.    

In a recent newsletter put out by Office of Ageing Well – SA they shared some great considerations around consultation, included below. 

“Consultation in its most basic meaning is the act or process of formally discussing something. Discussion means the act or process of talking about something in order to exchange ideas”.  

It is worth noting consultation, as an act, does not have the same meaning as an announcement (a public statement of fact, occurrence or intention) nor is it a negotiation (a discussion aimed at reaching an agreement).

Keeping residents fully informed about what is happening in the village and providing opportunities for them to provide feedback and ask questions is vital to creating trust, preventing misunderstandings or disputes, and creating a harmonious community.

Why is Good Consultation Important in Villages?

Good consultation practices include three main areas:

  • Making residents aware of the matter that is being discussed
  • They are given a proper opportunity to express their views
  • That these views are taken into consideration when a decision is made

It is recommended that the matter which residents are being consulted about, is provided in writing prior to a discussion, so as to allow residents to consider and discuss the proposal with each other and family members.  

It can also be useful to follow up written consultation with individual/s and/or group meetings to allow residents to discuss options, ask questions or to clarify any issues which may be causing confusion. 

Office of Ageing Well also provided some great tips below, they suggest you do for improving consultation practices.  These are all ones I can fully endorse.   You may want to consider including these activities in your annual consultation plan to do several times a year.

Improve the level of resident satisfaction, by increasing the number of opportunities provided for residents to have their say 

  • Make consultation a habit 
  • Keep in touch with your residents on a regular basis   
  • Aim for dedicated Q&A sessions on a regular, planned basis  
  • Embrace positive and negative feedback—you will learn from it. Don’t ignore feedback or dodge complaints.  
  • Find out what aspects of life in the village are most important to the residents and then measure how well these are achieved
  • Consult before making changes and before any decision is finalised, otherwise it is not consultation, merely information provision
  • Very early on in my career in this sector I learnt the importance of regular, transparent, honest and two-way communication.  

I always tried to recognise the community is the residents’ home and therefore they should have the opportunity to input into how their community is being shaped.