Latest industry developments

Retirement villages and land lease communities front and centre for political leaders seeking the seniors vote

Retirement villages and land lease communities front and centre for political leaders seeking the seniors vote

It’s the Federal Election on Saturday, so don’t forget to vote. A lot of you may have done so already.

It was interesting to see that the votes of residents and staff at retirement villages and land lease communities are being courted by both major parties.

Liberal Leader and Prime Minister Scott Morrison has visited at least three retirement living communities:

  • Lifestyle Communities’ Mount Duneed community in the marginal seat of Corangamite in Victoria, which is held by Labor by just 1.1%. Mr Morrison announced he would raise the income threshold for the Commonwealth Seniors’ Health Card;
  • Lifestyle SA’s The Parks Lifestyle Village (pictured) in the marginal seat of Boothby, in Adelaide’s southern suburbs, which is held by the Liberal Party with a margin of 1.4%; and
  • Living Gems Retirement Village in South Caboolture in the marginal seat of Longman, Queensland, which has swung five times between the LNP and Labor since it was created in 1996. It is held by LNP’s Terry Young by 3.3%.

Labor Party Leader Anthony Albanese has visited at least two retirement villages.

  • Symons House retirement village in Nowra, NSW South Coast, just hours before he tested positive to COVID-19. The seat of Gilmour is held by ALP’s Fiona Phillips; and
  • Bolton Clarke Fairways Retirement Living and Residential Aged Care in Bundaberg, QLD, a seat held by Resources Minister Keith Pitt by a margin of 14.2%.

The Liberal Party made a pitch to pensioners, self-funded retirees and working older Australians at its election platform launch in Brisbane on Sunday by offering a new financial incentive to sell the family home earlier.

Labor promised to match the Libs in what Mr Albanese described as a “modest” policy.  

Watch this space on Saturday!

Latest industry developments

Spread the word: DCM Institute hits 560 participants with new Aveo, Lendlease, VMCH and RetireAustralia registrations

Our Village Management Professional Development program, presented by the DCM Institute, has now passed 560 participants who have signed on for 12 months’ rolling learning content and four professional development days each year.

This is exciting and gratifying news.

Included in the new participants are Village Management Professionals from Aveo, Lendlease, VMCH and RetireAustralia, as well as a number of small to medium operators.

Pictured are the 150 attendees at last week’s professional development day at the Hilton Sydney.

Key things to help you everyday

Mediate, before it escalates!

Older Australians are clearly responding positively to the undeniable and unique appeal that senior living communities are able to offer, such as independence, connection and community, as well as convenience, flexibility, security, enhanced safety and a delayed entry into the aged care system of an average of five years!

It is quite an offering, especially when considering the incredible physical settings being constructed. 

Unfortunately, the reality doesn’t always live up to expectations for some residents, which can lead to conflict, either between management and residents or between residents.

How you manage your interactions in the face of a conflict can make all the difference to the length and severity of the dispute, and to the ultimate outcome.

In recent times, the DCM Institute team has been fielding many queries in relation to dealing with disputes within villages so I reached out to my great colleagues at Seniors Living Mediation for some sage advice.

Senior Living Mediation works with operators experiencing disputes, some of which have been long standing, and help the parties to find workable solutions. As a result, they have seen a myriad of dispute situations first hand. 

While the circumstances are all individual, the Senior Living Mediation team suggest there are two ingredients that remain constant. 

Two constant ingredients in disputes

No.1: nobody wants a dispute. We do not move into a village expecting or wanting a dispute – it arises because someone’s expectations do not align with the reality of the situation. 

And, the dispute only escalates where the communication is missing. 

No 2: disputes that are left unresolved can become toxic. This affects the culture of the entire community.

As a Village Professional, if you find yourself dealing with a conflict between two residents, the team at Seniors Living Mediation has shared some great practical tips.

First, encourage the residents to liaise together in the first instance, prior to escalating to the Village Manager.

Then if as the Village Manager you find yourself in the position to assist in addressing the conflict, as a quasi-mediator, ensure you:

1. Choose a private location and avoid meeting in either one of the resident’s homes;

2. Set some ground rules:

  • seek agreement from the parties that all discussions regarding the matter are to remain confidential and not be spoken about outside of the meeting;
  • allow each party time (say 10 minutes) to speak on the issue without interruption and the other party will be afforded time to respond;

3. Remain impartial and neutral;

4. Find any common ground (if there is no common ground apparent, then the common goal to resolve the issue can be used and evidenced by the fact that they both are attending the meeting);

5. Ask the parties to come up with some ideas as to how they see they can resolve their issues;

6. Which of the resolutions are the parties willing to try to resolve the matter;

7. Record the agreement reached in writing and have both parties sign acknowledging the outcomes and agreements made.

As we are all aware, disputes if left unresolved have the potential to cause serious damage to you and your community. 

In my personal experience, it is best to seek assistance early if you are dealing with a conflict situation that is not easily resolved. Reach out sooner rather than later to the team at Senior Living Mediation before it escalates.

Key things to help you everyday

A great resource you may not know about – The Book of Wise Moves

The village sector has progressed and reshaped its offering nearly every decade. 

In 2022 and beyond, we will have a sector much like the hotel sector, where the choice ranges from simple affordable villages all the way along the spectrum to high-end villages with all the bells and whistles inclusive of aged care services. 

The Retirement Living Council has produced a great booklet to understand where villages have come from and how to explain the value proposition to potential residents, titled The Book of Wise Moves

It complements our Introduction to Retirement Living topic, which you can find in our Knowledge Centre.

Key things to help you everyday

Help is at your fingertips!

This week I came across a great resource for busy village managers – a Local Resource Guide produced by the team at Critical Success Solutions to provide Retirement Living residents and teams with vital contact information to enable them to liaise with local care and associated support services.

Whether it’s information on churches, community health services, food services, palliative care or transport, the Local Resource Guide provides the contact details for these services at your fingertips, saving you hours of googling and calling!

Many operators choose to provide this list annually to all residents as part of their service promise and to keep them informed of the services available and accessible in the local area.

Another great benefit is that the guide will assist you in meeting the Australian Retirement Village Accreditation Scheme Standards, particularly standards. 

✓ Standard 4.21 evidence: “Residents are provided with accurate and comprehensive information about all key aspects of community life, facilities, services and procedures.”

✓ Standard 7.2.1 evidence: “Residents’ individual choices and preferences are identified and respected.”

✓ Standard 7.4.1 evidence: “The scope of care services available to residents.”

To order a copy specific to your local region, just send an email or visit Critical Success Solutions and reach out to the CSS team!


Westpac lending more for retirement villages than aged care

In another sign of the prosperity in retirement living, over the past three years Westpac has been receiving applications and making funds available to retirement village developers at a higher rate than it has been funding residential aged care developers.

To appreciate this scale of funding now passing through the village and care sector, in 2019 aged care invested $5.6 billion in new builds and refurbishment, according to government records.

Louise Johnston, Director – Health & Aged Care at Westpac (pictured), told us at a private lunch in our office, that they have over $2 billion in funding in the sectors at any one time and that the sectors are vitally important to the bank as a lending business.

Jim Hazel, Chairman of ASX-listed Ingenia, believes villages are entering a golden decade as operators embrace independent living with care and as a new breed of management emerges out of events like the sale of Stockland and the emergence of Not For Profit giants like Bolton Clarke and Calvary.

As Louise pointed out, the banks are keen to lend, but only when experienced executives are leading the operators. And their number are limited.

Key things to help you everyday

Money Care: financial questions? Support is here

From time-to-time village managers are faced with situations where a resident may come to them concerned about a reduced income due to the loss of a partner or change in financial situation, concern about rising living costs, inability to navigate the Centrelink allowances and approval processes or their ability to continue to afford living in the village.

Up until now finding the right solution has been tricky. Recently, I caught up with a great new service provider to older Australian that can provide information and assistance when it comes to support with everyday financial management.

Victoria Wallis-Smith, from Nutshell Money, has established a service that will help with every day financial management she calls “money coaching”. 

The perfect storm

Older people face a unique, and growing, set of issues and risks when it comes to managing their money.

The loss of a partner, reduced income, impaired cognition, or simply a reduction in confidence is compounded by the transition to a cashless society. Even the simple act of paying a bill, or filing a financial statement, can be daunting in the online world.

These challenges increase with the threat of financial scams.

The exponential growth in scams in recent years has seen older people a preferred target for increasingly sophisticated scammers. There were over 286,000 scams reported to the ACCC in 2021, with more than $323m of reported losses.

Who to ask?

Often, people turn to a trusted friend or family member with a money question. But what if you don’t have someone like that to ask?

A great online resource is the government’s MoneySmart website. Unfortunately, the wealth of information available can be overwhelming and lead to a paralysis of action, and increased stress.

The usual approach – financial service professionals

Financial planners typically focus on complex investment and tax issues, and the cost of financial planning is increasingly out of reach for many people.

And if the money questions relate to Centrelink rather than a tax query, an accountant may not be the right person to ask.

An alternative option – money coaching

Money coaching is a relatively new concept in Australia but is well entrenched overseas – providing financial education, support and advocacy for a variety of consumer groups.

Whether it’s having someone on hand that understands bank statements, or Centrelink letters, to working through how to make the money stretch – especially in the transition from a couple to a single age pension.

With a focus on personalised support for everyday financial management, Nutshell’s Money Care program is perfectly placed to fill the needs of older Australians.

A Money Care session is offered as a one-off, or as an ongoing support program – in the comfort of a client’s home. And the cost of a session may be covered under a Home Care Package.

If you have a resident that needs a little bit of extra help for a short time or just to get over a hurdle Money coaching could be a great resource. Check out more about Money Coaching here  Nutshell Money or contact Victoria Wallis-Smith on 0405 224 964, or email

Key things to help you everyday

Do your Duty of Care guidelines need reviewing as residents age in place?

Residents are living longer in their homes in villages due to the introduction and access to extended Home Care services and additional services often offered by villages themselves. 

Village managers are finding themselves more often in a position where they require the skills and information to be able to assist resident with choices when faced with declining health or unexpected health events.

I am often asked “How much should we be helping residents” or “What is our Duty of Care?” in relation to declining health or when there is an unexpected health event.

This is a really difficult questions to answer the obvious answer is of course we should be providing support and information. But it does depend largely on the skills, knowledge, resources and service agreements that are in place and importantly the operators Policy around Duty of care.

What is an operator’s Duty of Care to residents?

DCMI industry partners and specialists in governance and compliance, Critical Success Solutions, states:

 “Duty of Care is the legal responsibility of a person or organisation to avoid any behaviours or omissions that could reasonably be foreseen to cause harm to others”.

In my experience when developing a Duty of Care Policy and guidelines considerations should include: 

Guidelines around examples of incidents or repeated actions that may suggest there is a Duty of Care by the operator to act;

The process to follow when there is imminent danger/harm to the resident, likely danger/harm or preventable danger/harm;

What knowledge or information staff require to have access to, to be able to respond appropriately;

What follow up is needed, and

What documentation is required.

At the Professional Development workshop days this month participants will have the opportunity to hear more from Critical Success Solutions team about the various components and considerations in relation to Duty of Care within a retirement village setting.


A new beginning? LASA and ACSA members agree to the bodies merging

Ian Yates, Chief Executive of the Council of the Ageing Australia, told the Leaders Summit in Sydney in March that the Federal Government viewed the peak bodies representing the sector as “toxic”.

Leading Age Services Australia was founded in 2012 when Aged and Community Services Australia’s Not For Profit members voted against a national amalgamation that would have blended private operators with Not For Profit members.

Let’s hope the new body that LASA and ACSA members have agreed to – which will come into force on 1 July – will take a different approach to government to ensure a prosperous future for the entire sector.

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety recommended a unified leadership representing providers of residential care, home and community care and retirement living for seniors.

The time for butting heads needs to pass and let’s hope the new body will be better prepared when it comes to talking and meeting with the minister and his advisers.

As any village manager should know, you need to give and take to achieve something worthwhile.