Latest industry developments

Another alternative for customers is build to rent – a new challenge to retirement villages

In Europe and America the concept of really long-term rental leases is common.

Very simply, a renter can rent their apartment home for, say, 50 years in the lease.

Unlike Australia, where most leases are a maximum of three years, with the 50-year lease you can settle down knowing that your apartment is your home for as long as you want it to be.

Build to rent in Australia

Over the past 24 months, there has been a significant jump in the developers and financiers committing to the build-to-rent model here in Australia.

They are all medium to high-rise apartment developments in key city or suburban locations, next to shops, medical services and transport.

Same but different to retirement villages

The appeal for ageing Australians is they can sell the family home and keep all the cash as a lump sum, which they draw down slowly, paying the monthly rent.

They get a new home in a vibrant community. In most cases the developer commits to provide a building manager – who acts like a concierge. Sounds like a retirement village.

However, it is different because the residents don’t have all the protections provided by the Retirement Villages Act, which has very real benefits.

But there is no escaping that build-to-rent adds choice, and the number of homes coming to the market is big.

Last week, Macquarie Bank announced it was creating a new division called Local. Over the next five years, it intends to build 15 to 20 build-to-rent buildings with more than 4000 rental units – and these are just some of many coming to the market.

Your skills in demand

We are already seeing build-to-rent developers looking for community managers. Your skills will be in high demand. Watch this space.

Latest industry developments Things to watch

Future of retirement living with care – ‘Never Move Again’ 9 penthouses size 437 m²/ $5 million

Sydney has briefly held the record for the most expensive retirement village home, at $4.7 million in beachside Cronulla – the vertical village Sage By Moran.

But this record will be short lived, thanks to the in-construction 2×19-storey village Odyssey Chevron, on Chevron Island just behind Surfers Paradise.

This is an extraordinary development, and gives village managers an insight into where careers can take you.

Odyssey Lifestyle Care Communities has been created by veteran village operator Phil Usher, who in 2002 created Tall Trees, among the very first private aged care operations working under the Retirement Villages Act.

His concept is simple: Odyssey will provide care into your village home right up to palliative care stage. And it is popular.

Phil’s first new development is Odyssey Robina Stage 1. A medium rise village, it sold out, and work has begun on Stage 2 with a record of five to seven apartments being sold each month.

Odyssey Chevron takes Phil’s vision to a completely new level.It’s afive-star hotel-style development including specialist disability accommodation, and has a section for allied health clinics. The top three floors will house nine penthouses at 437sqm each with panoramic views over the Gold Coast, and are anticipated to sell up to $5million. 

Most importantly, though, there will be a dementia level, where couples can live together as long as they possibly can by creating a secure area on the same level.

We recently came across this video of the residents enjoying a staycation through COVID lockdowns, which we thought you may like.

Facility Manager Key things to help you everyday Village Operator

Diversity and Inclusion requires Belonging to be effective for all residents

Why is diversity an objective in retirement communities?

In essence, a commitment to diversity within your village is an acknowledgement of the benefits that having a wide variety of people, heritages, ideas and experiences can offer in building a vibrant community!

Australia has one of the most diverse older populations in the world, with a significant proportion of the Australian seniors community identifying as:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
  • Culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD)
  • Veterans of the Australian Defence Force or an allied defence force (or the spouse, widow or widower of a veteran)
  • LGBTIQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/gender diverse, intersex and queer)
  • Disabled or living with a significant health concern

So, while we often talk about ‘Diversity’, do we really understand its importance to our staff and our village communities?

Firstly, it is important to recognise that diversity cannot work without inclusion, and that ‘diversity and inclusion’ cannot be sustained without belonging.

In simple terms:

Diversity is the characteristics that make people unique. 

Inclusion is the behaviours and community norms that make people feel welcome.

Belonging is an individual’s sense of acceptance by others.

How can Village Professionals promote Diversity?

What are some of the activities village professionals can do to establish and promote Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging in the workplace and within village communities?

Having a conscious approach to support the diverse nature of residents living in your village is vital to operational planning, resident satisfaction and service delivery within your community.

Recognise and consider inclusive activities, which increase in importance as people age and face the possibility of isolation.

Ensure that older Australians remain valued and have the same access to opportunities whatever their differences.

Establish inclusive practices as part of everyday operational activities, whether it is at meetings, operational planning, or as part of project considerations within the village community. 

Additionally, you can:

  • Provide activities that appeal to diverse groups
  • Conduct regular education/reminders to village teams about diversity
  • Address and discourage others’ bias toward ageing
  • Hold open conversations across the entire village (not just with a select few)
  • Include stories, recipes & information in newsletters that represent the diversity of the village community
  • Ask residents what they would like to share about their heritage, lifestyle or background
  • Ensure diversity activities are an agenda item on team and resident meetings

A quick quote from Jesse Jackson:

“When everyone is included, everyone wins.”

Facility Manager Key things to help you everyday Village Operator

Community engagement includes engaging with residents

I’ve talked previously about the changing characteristics of this next generation, the Baby Boomer. They are now rapidly taking up occupancy in our villages. 

Just like they have done in every aspect of their journey, Boomers are displaying traits and behaviours that call for new consultation and communication models.   

One of the best examples of why we should consult with residents is the video above left by Becky Hirst. In it, she explained she knows nothing about road construction – but she knows everything about the road she lives on, because she walks and drives it every day and night.

Watch it HERE and it will give you a smile. It may cause you to rethink resident consultation as well.

Becky has been speaking at our VILLAGE SUMMIT events around the country on the building steps and importance of Community Engagement.

If you are interested in finding out more about Becky, she has recently written published her book, For the Love of Community Engagement.

Find out more here –

Wanted and expected? Yes and yes   

The activity we have already seen over the last 5 years, with the activation of the residents’ associations across the country, indicates strongly to me that residents want to – and expect to – be engaged in dialogue where decisions that may impact or affect their futures and lifestyles are occurring.  

The next time you’re making a decision, perhaps think a little bit more broadly about who the decision might impact or affect – and importantly, who else might be able to contribute valuable insight.  

Next time you are preparing to make a significant decision on behalf of your residents, consider how you might be able to come alongside your community and engage at a deeper level to gain a broader perspective from those impacted or affected.  

Village Operator What the research tells us

Food is hard to deliver – or is it with new technology

Historically retirement villages have not engaged in food service because residents are independent, meaning they can prepare their own meals in their own home.

For operators and management, it has also been a high risk and high cost adventure to test if residents want meals prepared for them.

But all this is changing, as marketers see food as a differentiator and a way of creating community. And residents are increasingly expecting meals to be available on demand, just like they do at home through Uber Eats!

The major reason to think about food is nutrition. Poor nutrition, the balance between volume and nutrients the food selected to eat, is the fastest route to physical decline in the aged.

New services, new technologies

In a recent edition of SATURDAY, our editor Lauren Broomham reported on a number of services and technologies now available.  Some of these included ‘Digital plates’ that scan resident’s meals before and after and identifies food intake and nutrition, cashless apps and more you will want to know about. 

We have selected a few that you can give you an insight into the future of food.

Meals on demand

Many operators throughout lockdowns have utilised these services for their residents. 

They are also a great option for someone recovering from a stay in hospital who is unable to get out and about or just pure convenience.

Some of the new and established entrants include:

  • TLC Meals is a service for discharged hospital patients and delivers a range of frozen, nutritious meals to clients, catering for a range of dietary and medical requirements.
  • Lite n’ Easy has developed a range specifically for the elderly. They have partnered with a number of Home Care package providers to deliver meals to older Australians and has over 100 meals to choose from subsidised by up to 70% of the resident’s Home Care Package (HCP).
  • SPC is the well-known Australian food company. It has announced it’s move into a nutritional healthcare company for older people in residential care and at home. They already have produced their ProVital brand which specialises in fruit-based snacks and beverages and home delivered meals under the Good Meal brand. They are now focusing on offering food products easy to open for people suffering from arthritis.

Outsourced food management

  • CBORD – an American food technology company that specialises in retirement communities universities and hospitals, has created a whole digital front and back end for food management and nutrition. It scans every plate before a meal is eaten and afterwards with the remaining scraps and calculates the nutrition intake of the resident, and that’s just the start. Many Australian hospitals and some aged care operators and are using CBORD.
  • Compass Group Australia, Senior Living – a catering and hospitality services business that offers a full suite of support services to the senior living and healthcare sector from gardening to reception services, and now they will operate your food service for you.

Click HERE to read the full article.

Key things to help you everyday Village Operator

What to know – and remember – for successful Financial Management

As you only too well know, Financial Management plays a critical role for all Village Managers and Operators, and how the decisions made can affect your residents.

For those of you that are Members of the DCM Institute program, you may have completed this topic and know what I am talking about.  However, with the New Year looming we thought it was a great opportunity to share some tips.  And now may be a good time to do a refresher of this topic in the Knowledge Centre.

Legislation Requirements

The Retirement Villages Act and associated Retirement Villages Regulations specify an operator’s obligations in relation to the financial management of retirement villages.

While we are not required to be accountants, we should know enough about the village financial matters to be able to understand the workings of the budgets and accounts.

By engaging and working with your finance department, qualified accountants and auditors, you will be able to confidently present sound budgets and accurate financial statements for the village.

We must also abide by the more general legislative local, State and Commonwealth obligations for relevant levies, rates, taxes and other legal responsibilities.

In the legislation are details the operator’s obligations related to:

  • The financial information provided to residents
  • How village funds can be collected, accrued and utilised
  • Where and for what purpose funds can be expended
  • Inclusions / exclusions of items specific to a fund type (capital, recurrent, general)
  • Reporting of the village’s income and expenditure
  • The timing, format of and processes to consult with and present to residents
  • The process for managing any finance related dispute
  • Disclosure statements and independent auditing
  • Resident incoming contributions and exit entitlements

It is a great idea to keep a copy of your relevant RV Act and regulations at hand for quick reference, (hard copy or internet booked marked).

Common Village Practices

Village Budgets

A budget is simply a way of thinking ahead financially.

The Village budget represents the expenses you expect to incur and the income you propose to receive during the 12 month forecast period; it is a statement of anticipated income and expenditure.  A well-prepared budget will determine whether your income is likely to exceed your expenditure, and if so by how much.

When preparing the Village budget, we should undertake a process of review and verification to ensure budget data and inputs are accurate and have a sound basis for inclusion.

Refer to the Budget Planning Guide in the DCMI Portal to assist with your budget planning process.

Village Funds

The Financial Management of a village includes the way an operator manages the funds of the village.

This extends to a legislative prescribed regime for the classification of and responsibility for, expenditure relating to all village related funds.

Compliance with the Retirement Villages legislation for your state is imperative, as its adherence to any related terms of each resident’s contract.

The following gives a general overview of the types of funds that are prescribedPlease note the name and obligations of these funds may vary from state to state.

Each Village generally has 3 funds

  • A capital replacement fund for replacing the village’s capital items
  • A maintenance reserve fund for maintaining and repairing the village’s capital items
  • A general services charges fund for the cost of services that are supplied or made available to all residents of a retirement village

General Services / Recurrent Charges

Residents collectively fund general services via general services charges; however, the operator pays general services charges (or part) for unsold units and vacated units

General services is defined as ‘services supplied, or made available, to all residents of a retirement village’

  • Providing, operating and managing the community facilities
  • Gardening and landscaping
  • Managing security at the village
  • Maintaining an emergency help system and safety equipment
  • Cleaning, maintenance and repairs of and to the community facilities
  • Administration’ and or ‘Management’ costs

The Act also regulates the charging of general services to a resident after the resident has vacated. 

An Operator may reduce the period a resident is required to pay the charge but is not able to compel a resident to pay this charge beyond the prescribed period.

Maintenance Reserve Fund (MRF)

This fund provides for the ongoing maintenance and repair of the village’s capital items.

The income into this fund is generally derived as a monthly contribution from the General Services Fund.

Capital Fund

The treatment of Capital items can vary from state to state and also with different resident contracts.  In general Capital items are:

  • The buildings and structures located in the retirement village and owned by the operator, including the communal facilities, amenities and accommodation units,
  • But are not items that, under the residence contract, are to be maintained, repaired and replaced by the resident.

Where required by legislation and/or to achieve best practice, a Quantity Surveyor’s report should be updated or completed to identify the minimum requirements an operator has in relation to the Capital Fund.

The Quantity Surveyor report would then provide the basis for the Capital Fund expenditure for that year.

Capital expenditure items would include the cost of:

  • The Quantity Surveyor report
  • The provision/replacement of all initial/ongoing capital items
  • Building & structural expenditure
  • Plant & equipment
  • Communal hot water
  • Air-conditioning
  • Community facility furnishings
  • Vehicles
  • Roads/paths
  • Drainage/sewer
  • Initial landscaping
  • Electrical distribution systems

Additional financial management considerations may include:

Personal Services

  • Defined as ‘optional services supplied or made available for the benefit, care or enjoyment of a resident of a retirement village’ (e.g. laundry, meals, cleaning)
  • Payable personally by those residents who receive the services
  • Amounts charged, and increases in charges, that are not regulated by the RV Act – purely contractual.  The operator can include a profit component
  • Where a service is not supplied or made available to all residents of the village, then it is a personal service

Special Levy

A special levy is a fee which a resident is required to pay for an unforeseen expense of the retirement village. The special levy is generally applied with the consent of residents through a special resolution.

Surplus and Deficits Policy

All villages should have a Policy, compliant with legislation, which clearly defines how any surplus or deficit in the operating budget will be treated.

Marketing costs

The cost for sales and marketing, related to the remarketing of units and also the general sales and marketing of the village, must abide by legislation.

Vacating and Re-sale related costs (including refurbishment)

There may be costs to make good, refit or refurbish the unit when a resident vacates their unit and the residence is then put on the market as a “re-sale”.

The costs, by whom they will be paid and how they are treated are represented in the resident contract and defined in legislation.

Facility Manager Things to watch Village Operator

The CEO focus on team culture and ‘high performance’

Team Culture and leadership is now more important than ever before to deliver a great working environment, which incidentally greatly supports staff retention.  This incidentally includes retention of village management, with vacancies at an all-time high.

In last week’s issue of SATURDAY, our editor Lauren Broomham talked with RetireAustralia’s CEO Dr. Brett Robinson on their success of zero turnover of their village managers in the last 18 months across their 28 villages.

Brett explains, their focus on training and development – and the group’s strong team culture – has been critical to staff retention and delivering best outcomes for residents.

Rugby High Performance Leader

A relatively new CEO to the sector, Brett is a former international rugby player for the Wallabies, which he followed up with heading the Australian Rugby Union’s High-Performance unit.

Brett also trained as a doctor and has spent much of his life working with the private sector including Mondial Assistance, Cancer Care and Bank of Queensland.

He recognises the Village Manager is the most important person in the business.  It is also criticalto identify the right person with the right capabilities and skills, and then to heavily invest in them and their training.  To this end it is no surprise – Retire Australia have recently signed up all their team to the DCM Institute.

It’s a front-line that delivers

Brett tells us when he worked in cancer care, the cancer nurses were the organisation’s greatest asset, because they genuinely cared about the patients and their families.  He sees this as very similar to what we do in our sector, where people join villages seeking a caring and supporting community.

He does note that this is not always easy for small to medium businesses as there is a significant cost in this investment. However, the payoff is huge in terms of staff retention and satisfaction.

To read the full and fascinating story – please click HERE.