The Managing Director who tries to visit all 75 retirement villages twice a year

Nathan Cockerill, Lendlease Retirement Living Managing Director, is a hard man to catch in the office in Melbourne.

More often than not he is out of State visiting one of the ASX-listed company’s retirement villages.

Nathan, who is on the executive of the Property Council’s Retirement Living Council, told The SOURCE why he does it.

“I love spending time with our residents. We have 17,000 residents across our portfolio and each and every one has their own unique story. Just listening to those stories fulfills my day and I learn a lot from them and appreciate all the things they’ve done in their lifetime,” Nathan said.

“I try to visit all our 75 villages at least twice a year and really value the opportunity to also hear about village life. We know the needs of retirees are constantly evolving and listening to our residents is the only way we can ensure we continue to provide the lifestyle they want and expect.”

Nathan, who has worked at Lendlease in the Retirement Living portfolio since May 2014, said his most memorable visits are the 100th Birthday Clubs.

“For residents that reach this milestone, we gift them with a family portrait or mini memoir capturing their incredible life. The community spirit is infectious and it’s wonderful to see our residents being celebrated in such a way.” he said. 


Tips on how to give residents a great social life

A survey of more than 850 residents of Stockland retirement villages (now Levande villages) across metropolitan Adelaide and the Fleurieu Peninsula found an average satisfaction rate of 8.63/10 when asked how happy they are with their social life in their village.

Krystal Wood, Village Manager at Stockland’s Ridgehaven Rise Retirement Village, says “There is a well-documented benefit of residing in a village where residents foster companionship and connection with their neighbours.”

“At Ridgehaven Rise, our residents participate in a bustling social calendar with internal activities and resident-organised outings, such as the bus trips arranged by Helen Bishop.”

Helen (pictured), as volunteer social outings coordinator at Stockland’s Ridgehaven Rise village, organises social gatherings and outings for her fellow residents.

These include regular bus trips, meals at local hotels and weekend getaways across country South Australia. Most recently, she organised a “Mega Op Shop Day”, coordinating two buses filled with 23 of her fellow residents to charity op shops across the western suburbs.

“The village buses are driven by five resident volunteers, who are very much in demand and valued for their trips to shops, hospitality venues and tourist attractions.”

Top ideas for group social activities in retirement villages

If you live in a retirement village, join the village social club. If they don’t have one, start one!

  • Who doesn’t love a bargain? Organise a “mega op shop day” to browse for bargains or enjoy a window shop.
  • Organise a carpool with some friends or neighbours. Start with a local outing to start with and encourage their friends to join too.
  • If you have any excess food items or produce from the garden, knock on a neighbour’s door to say hello and share your goods.
  • Hire a bus and plan a day trip or weekend away. Ask your friends or neighbours for suggestions of places they’d like to visit.
  • Join in with as many events as you can. The more you get involved, the more people you will meet.
  • Mobility issues shouldn’t impact your social life. Lunches at local hotels or bowling clubs, card nights, bingo, book clubs and knitting groups provide opportunities to socialise without too much walking.

Mental health tips for VMs

This year has seen our sector challenged in many very different ways – the incessant floods in many regions or the never-ending COVID-19 pandemic. Either way, ourselves and communities have been stretched out of our comfort zones on many occasions.  

However the term crisis can be and will mean something different to all of us, it doesn’t just occur when these major events occur.  Whilst the major event might exacerbate the mental health of our teams as individuals, there may be a crisis they are dealing with that we have not yet become aware of. 

Be aware of your team

In recent survey, prior to the pandemic, found 20% of workers were experiencing a mental health challenge.  However when their leaders were surveyed their leaders were unaware of this.  

Therefore, as community leaders and as team leaders in our villages it is vital for us to understand how we can identify and support our teams and community through periods where they may experiencing a mental health challenge. 

Mental health is a continuum with mental illness at one end and mental well-being at the other.

With individuals going back and forth on this continuum depending on the many influences in our life and not only the perceived crisis that we experience as a community.   

Leadership and burnout

Leadership, can be a lonely, isolating and stressful place, particularly for village professionals who are constantly people facing, on call (some 24/7), sometimes caught in the middle, the responder to emergency, the problem solver and often dealing with a large workload for long periods.  So there is no surprise that BURNOUT is common amongst village professionals.

Good foundations – Diet, Exercise and Sleep  

  • Reframing our thinking patterns to focus on the FACT & not the STORY we might be telling ourselves 
  • Scheduling of regular downtime – leave, breaks, think time and social time  
  • Reduce habits that may inhibit progress – excessive email and phone checking  
  • Identify what indicators present themselves when beginning to feel yourself spiralling  
  • Building a tool kit of responses in the event you feel a change in your mental health – ask for help, tactical breathing, identify priority, etc…  

Now more than ever it is vital to have a peer network… Join the DCMI Peer Network!

The retirement village sector is changing and evolving quickly.

More operators are engaging the strategy to provide aged care within their villages. The Baby Boomer generation is increasingly more demanding and won’t let up until they get what they feel they deserve.

Disputes are becoming more frequent.

It is now more important than ever to be connected to a group of likeminded peers to share experiences, learnings and sometimes even just validation that you are on the right path.  

At the DCM Institute we are committed to building this network alongside you in every state, to ensure that village professionals, whether in customer facing roles or head office roles, have a network to fall back on and connect with on a regular basis.  

Together with your peers you can solve the challenges of the day and keep up to date with industry trends and local issues. Check September network events or set up your own with the link HERE.

Remember, our Professional Development Days PD Days are also tailored to each State to ensure you have the opportunity to meet your colleagues and network.


30 year residents! Four ‘originals’ of Bolton Clarke’s Bongaree Retirement Village mark its 30th birthday

There were four special people in attendance when Bolton Clarke’s Bongaree Retirement Village on the western side of Bribie Island celebrated its 30th birthday earlier this month.

Norma Collins, Bill and Daphne Eaton, and Heather Patterson are original members of Bongaree Retirement Village.

Norma said after 30 years she still thinks the move to Bongaree was the best decision she and her late husband ever made.

“My husband chose the unit off the plan and we came down after church every Sunday and watched it being built,” she said.

“We have been in the same unit ever since and even now at 93, I’m still in love with it.”

Daphne said it was a visit from the RSL Bribie Island Women’s Auxiliary that convinced her and her husband to move into the retirement village.

“At the time we had come to Bribie and we were living in a caravan park,” she said.

“It doesn’t seem that long ago! I can still remember every detail from the day we moved in.”

Daphne’s husband Bill said Bongaree is the place he wants to be when he joins the Centenarian Club.

“I could get to being 100 here! I’m 98 now and we will be celebrating it here,” he said.

Village manager Sharon Rodgers, who was this year named a finalist in Leading Age Services Australia’s Retirement Village Manager of the Year Awards, said it was a pleasure to be able to celebrate with her residents.

“Not only to acknowledge 30 years since stage two was completed, but to be able to celebrate with existing residents who are still living independently in their units,” she said.

Members of the RSL Women’s Auxiliary, which funded the building of the four first homes in the village, were in attendance to cut the cake. Today, Bolton Clarke Bongaree has 50 homes, a community hall, swimming pool, and caretakers unit.

Latest industry developments

Baptcare The Orchards Village Manager Hannah Horsley loves how DCM Institute gives her that “little extra”

Village Manager Hannah Horsley (right, pictured with Support Coordinator Aggie Massarotti) has worked at Baptcare The Orchards in East Doncaster, Melbourne for the past 17 years.

She loves how the DCM Institute Management course teaches her that there can be a “different way of dealing with issues, concerns and comments”.

It has helped me with a difference perspective and way of thinking through such courses as dealing with residents committee and duty of care.

Hannah who has a nursing background, joined the Orchards when a friend said that was a role as she was looking to get back into the workforce after her last child started kindergarten.

“I felt aged care was my passion and I have not looked back,” she said.

”The DCM Institute is a fantastic resource and I love hearing from the other managers and discovering that we are all going through the same experiences and can share our knowledge together”.

Hannah admitted she has been on a “deep learning curve” with the Orchards undergoing a redevelopment over the last 6 years.

“We are in the final stage of the redevelopment. There is currently a 150 bed Aged Care Facility, 22 units, 33 apartments and a further 52 Villas under construction and due for completion in early 2024” she said.

The Orchards is a close community where everyone is valued, and we all support each other. Hannah believes this is what makes her Retirement Living Community a great success.

Find out more about the DCM Institute

LEGAL QUIZ ANSWER: I am sure you knew – A

Village Operator

DCM Institute participant named Village Manager of the Year for the second successive year

DCM Institute participant Roslyn Prentice, who is Village Manager at Ryman Healthcare’s John Flynn Retirement Village in Burwood East, 17km east of Melbourne’s CBD, has been named Leading Age Services Australia’s Village Manager of the Year.

It is the second successive year that a DCM Institute participant has won the award. Nikki Dharwin who managed Bethanie Warwick and Bethanie Joondanna retirement villages in Perth, won the LASA award last year.

The award recognises Roslyn’s total commitment to the wellbeing of residents and staff at the village, leadership during COVID-19, and creation of initiatives to improve the lives of older people.

Her award-winning initiatives included the creation of a ‘Resident Directory’ featuring comprehensive information on everything from allied health professionals in the area to fun things to do.

The directory, which is given to all residents upon their move to the village, has received praise from people who moved from outside of Melbourne to John Flynn.

Roslyn was surrounded by residents and team members at the village when she found out she had won and was greeted by rapturous applause.

“I’m incredibly humbled to be named ‘Village Manager of the Year,’” she said.

“This is an acknowledgement of not only myself, but the amazing people at John Flynn and at Ryman Healthcare who support me to lead such a fabulous community.

“Every day it is an absolute privilege to work with such a dedicated team who provide outstanding care to our residents.”

Ryman Australia CEO Cameron Holland (pictured with Roslyn) said Roslyn was an extremely deserving recipient.

“Roslyn not only manages the independent living, but residential aged care and serviced apartments and home care as well,” he said.

“The size of the team and the responsibility this requires is immense.

“We are extremely lucky to have a leader like Roslyn as part of the team.”

Find out more about DCM Institute

Key things to help you everyday

‘Be aware’. 100 DCM Institute members attend Sydney PD Day and Minter Ellison Dispute Management presentation

Village Managers regularly get caught up in disputes, which require real skills to successfully navigate, and if not carefully managed can draw in the operator – and lawyers.

Jonathan Chow, Special Counsel at law firm Minter Ellison, gave a 45 minute overview at the DCM Institute Professional Development Day at the Hilton Hotel, Sydney on how to handle disputes and advice on engaging mediators ahead of legal action.

His advice – be aware and take notes! He detailed the importance of identifying when a dispute is gathering momentum and then commencing record keeping by the Village Manager. Good notes in chronological order will usually eliminate the need to resort to high level legal action because when presented with the facts of a dispute, most people lose their energy for a fight.

But Jonathon said receiving good quality notes is rare.

He also pointed out that if a dispute is to go to the Tribunal, expect around 12 months to receive the first hearing.

He then presented a short quiz, including this slide:  

The answer is at the bottom of the last article.

Key things to help you everyday Latest industry developments

Land lease attracting active 70 year olds

Over the last few weeks the DCM team has been travelling across Australia filming our TV series The Best 30 Years.

We are interviewing community managers and residents in retirement villages and land lease to accurately explain what they are to the Channel NINE TV viewers, plus social media, and present their value propositions.

One surprise has been the fact that the land lease communities we are visiting are attracting new residents with an average age of 71 – older that the past core market of 55 to 70.

What is also clearer is that they are very active 70 year olds.

Whether it is Ten Pin Bowling, darts or aquarobics, all the sessions are full.

So will land lease be increasing competition for retirement villages? The answer is ‘No’, as the model requires large land holdings which are just getting harder to find, while retirement villages are successfully going vertical in capital cities and regional hotspots.

Expectations are that LLCs will build from 3,000 new homes a year to 5,000 new homes within say five years, while villages will grow from 3,500 new homes to 7,000 to 10,000 a year by 2030 – just 8 years away.

In that eight years the active LLC residents will also be less active and the operators will be seeking solutions similar to retirement villages to support their residents. They will also have to change their revenue model as they will need additional cash to staff new ageing support services.

The marketing tussle meanwhile will be interesting to see as it unfolds – exit fees Vs no exit fees.

Our TV series goes to air on 22 October nationally on NINE. It looks fantastic and we will keep you informed.

Key things to help you everyday Uncategorized

‘Developing Resilience as a Leader’ Jacqui Perkins’ DCM Institute Masterclass on 16 August

Experienced industry sales coach and facilitator Jacqui Perkins delivers the Masterclass #7 Intentional Leadership on 16 August (next Tuesday) to our DCMI Participants.

Jacqui, who has been running leadership and sales training in the retirement village sector for over 10 years with organisations such as Aveo, Freedom Aged Care, McKenzie Aged Care, RetireAustralia and Australian Unity, will discuss the concept of Developing Resilience as a Leader.

She will discuss the concept of Resilience not simply being a trait – but a skill that can be developed. She will detail how to build some tried and tested techniques that help build resilience.

Please look out for the pre-work videos that will add value to your experience of this masterclass as part of the Masterclass series. If you are not a DCMI Participant, please contact to learn more about the masterclasses and the DCMI Program.

Tuesday 16 August
WA 1:00 PM 
SA 1:30 PM

Register HERE