Latest industry developments

LifeLab promotes Authentic Co-Design

Modern Ageing is a global response to increasing longevity, reflective of older adults’ shifting values, aspirations and attitudes towards growing older.

Importantly, Modern Ageing considers how we can live fulfilling, connected and independent lives throughout all of life’s course, with choices and opportunities that reflect our agency and individualism.

Speaking at DCM Institute’s professional development day in Adelaide this week, Julianne Parkinson, shared the story of the Global Centre for Modern Ageing (GCMA).

“We strive to disrupt the prevailing narrative on ageing, identifying the rapidly changing needs and wants of this fast paced and sizeable consumer market, and informing and supporting the supply chain to realise the opportunities in ways that people value.” Julianne said.

Based at the Tonsley innovation district, the GCMA assists organisations, product developers and governments across Australia and overseas to develop, design and deliver products, services and solutions that meet the needs of the world’s older, growing population.

“We’ve never had so many people over the age of 65, and experiencing much longer periods of life post-traditional retirement,” said Julianne.

“Mindsets are changing – people’s relationship with the importance of a home capable of meeting their changing needs as they age, and the role the built environment and technology can play.  We think AgeTech is the next big thing, where there’s tech-enabled solutions that support and enable the growing number of older people to live better lives through use of this technology.

And the transformation is not just precincts and products, services play a big role, being able to dial up or dial down services on any given day that help us live our best life.”

The LifeLab has a substantive track record of working with partners to bring disruption into reality.

Purpose built for innovation, the LifeLab is a highly customisable environment which simulates ‘real life’ and supports GCMA’s mission for citizen centred design principles. The LifeLab uses video and audio recording systems to capture user interactions with products to inform next steps to enter market.

“We firmly believe in internationally accredited co-design practices, which means the end-user should be actively engaged in the creation of solutions designed for their benefit.”

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Hairdresser is ‘A Cut Above’

After six decades of service, Sundale hairdresser, Eunice Krome, has officially opened her own dedicated space, Cut Above Salon at James Grimes Care Centre in Nambour.

Eunice was just a teenager when she started doing residents’ hair at Sundale in 1963.

“I was an apprentice hairdresser at Dorothy’s Beauty Salon in Wilson’s Arcade in Nambour,” Eunice said.

“I didn’t have a driver’s licence, so J.D. Grimes (Sundale Board President 1960 – 1978) used to collect me from Dorothy’s and drive me to Sundale.

“Sixty years later, I’m still cutting residents’ hair, and I have no intention of giving it away.”

Throughout the 1970s, Eunice regularly pushed a hairdressing trolley room-to-room to visit each of her clients. Her two young children, David and Kylie would often be in tow, and the trio quickly became an integral and much-loved part of the Sundale community.

“The kids grew-up at Sundale,” Eunice said.

“They had grandparents in nearly every room.”

Eunice said her long chats with residents have always been her favourite part of the job.

“They’re delightful, their stories, their lives. You go home and the smile is still on your face,” Eunice said.

“It’s a wonderful job because I get to help people.

“When you love what you do, it’s not work.

“Everyone needs a little bit of TLC from time-to-time and I’m honoured I can listen to and care for the residents.

“Sundale has given me so much. I love the residents and the opportunity to spend time with them – they make my life better.”

Sundale CEO, Helen Sharpley said a recent multi-million-dollar refurbishment of James Grimes Care Centre was the perfect opportunity to dedicate a stand-alone salon space to Eunice.

“Cut Above Salon is one small way we can thank Eunice for the vital role she has played at Sundale,” Ms Sharpley said.

“Eunice’s influence at Sundale cannot be understated. She has become a dear friend to hundreds of residents over the past 60 years and conducted more than 40,000 haircuts.

“Eunice does so much more than cut hair. She provides comfort, kindness and compassion to our residents.

“She is a mentor, a fantastic friend, a wonderful mother and exceptional role model to her five grandchildren and the broader Sunshine Coast community. We’re very lucky to have her at Sundale.”

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The Secret to Success-ion

We are one week down with our current Professional Development Day circuit. I have been excited to meet and see so many Assistant Managers and coordinators attending our workshops.

Our research shows that 2 out of every 5 Village Managers will not be in their role in 3 years time.

If there are 2,000 Village Managers in the country, that is 400 roles that need to be filled in the next 24 months.

Therefore 400 people who know your residents, and know their stories, and know your assets, who are leaving.

The attendance of the ‘next’ Village Managers attending our events demonstrates that some operators understand the need to create a career pathway and nurture talent into these critical roles.

In talking with these future professionals, I found they let their manager know of their ambition during their recent annual performance reviews. We have written about this process previously. Its an important part of nurturing and retaining talent.

These are the employees working at the coalface of villages, who have interactions with residents every day, and who have put their hand up to say they want to be at the helm when the opportunity comes along.

And it’s coming.

DCM Institutes Tips for Succession Planning

  1. Start Early: Succession planning should be a continuous process, not a reactive one. Identify potential future leaders and high-potential employees well in advance. This gives them time to develop the necessary skills and knowledge for their future roles.
  2. Identify Key Positions: Not all positions are equally critical to success. A Village Manager’s is the most critical. Identify key leadership positions that have a significant impact on the business. Focus your succession planning efforts on these roles to ensure a seamless transition.
  3. Assess Skills and Potential: Regularly assess the skills, competencies, and potential of your employees. Look to have a training needs analysis developed and part of performance reviews, assessments, and feedback to determine who has the potential to take on leadership roles. Look beyond just technical skills to include qualities like adaptability, communication, and strategic thinking.
  4. Provide Development Opportunities: Offer training, mentoring, and development programs to groom potential successors. Assign them to cross-functional projects, leadership workshops, and stretch assignments that will challenge and enhance their skills.
  5. Create Individual Development Plans: Work with potential successors to create individualized development plans that outline their career goals and the steps needed to achieve them. These plans should include skill development, exposure to different aspects of the business, and opportunities for networking.
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Would you live in your Village?

Have you ever asked yourself whether you would live in your Village?

It is an interesting question. One we should give some thought to as professionals. It helps us to avoid complacency.  

As a manager, it’s possible to become complacent and overlook obvious signs. It is a question I would often ask myself. With spring just around the corner now is the perfect time to make sure you are putting your best foot forward. So ask yourself, what would need to change to make you want to live in your Village? 

The heart of any Village is its sense of community. Our complacency can lead to overlooking  the need for diverse and engaging calendar of activities. A lack of fresh ideas can result in a stagnant calendar, making the community feel dull and uninspiring.  Importantly, this can lead to a disengaged resident population.

During my time as a Village Manager, I’d always push myself to look outside the box for some fun activities you would enjoy, such as turning your craft group into a paint and sip afternoon. 

Asking yourself the question of whether you’d live in your community keeps you fresh as a manager, making you more likely to walk around with your eyes wide open, especially to the asset management component of or role. Is the Village looking tired, gradual wear and tear on buildings can creep up on you. It’s essential to maintain a critical eye and address maintenance needs promptly. Empathise with the current and future customer. You wouldn’t want to move into an unloved village.

Another way to keep yourself fresh is to visit another village. Through our Professional Development Day series we provide Managers with a great opportunity to build a peer network. An investment in your time, with immediate benefits, can be to reach out to your network and see what they are offering and how they operate.  Peer-to-peer learning through an established professional network is a powerful tool we must take advantage of as managers to ensure our villages remain inviting.

The importance of maintaining a delicate equilibrium between upholding a high standard of living and avoiding managerial complacency is a fine line. While the community’s appealing features and amenities contribute to its allure, it’s vital to remain proactive in addressing gradual issues that could compromise residents’ overall quality of life.

If you wouldn’t move into your Village why would I?

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Dementia Friendly Communities – What Managers Need to Know

The PWC Retirement Census Snapshot tells us the average age of residents in retirement villages is 81 years old.

It is widely documented that 3 out of every 10 Australians over the age of 80 is living with Dementia. These two statistics together highlight the challenge faced by Retirement Village Managers across the country.

Dementia Australia is advocating to change this position of seeing dementia as a challenge – rather their ‘Dementia-Friendly Communities’ program is catered toward advocating for environments where people can safely live with Dementia.

The Dementia-Friendly Communities program aims to address the stigma, isolation and discrimination experienced by many people living with Dementia. Dementia Australia does this through creating awareness around what inclusive communities need to aspire to be to enable people living with dementia to live well. 

As managers of Retirement Villages, responsible for the care and support of ageing residents, there are a number of operational elements to consider when embracing the concept of being a Dementia-Friendly Community:

  • Education and Awareness: One of the primary steps toward building a Dementia-friendly community is to educate staff, residents, and families about Dementia. Understanding the challenges individuals with dementia face and learning how to communicate effectively with them can create a more empathetic and respectful environment.
  • Physical Environment: Retirement villages should consider making physical changes to the environment to cater to the needs of residents with Dementia. Clear signage, contrasting colours, and minimizing unnecessary clutter can enhance navigation and reduce confusion.
  • Training for Staff: Staff members in retirement villages should undergo specialized training in Dementia care. This includes learning how to handle challenging behaviours, provide person-cantered care, and offer appropriate activities to engage residents.
  • Engagement and Socialisation: Organising activities that promote social interaction and cognitive stimulation can greatly benefit residents with Dementia. These activities should be designed to accommodate different levels of cognitive ability.
  • Communication Support: Effective communication is vital when interacting with individuals with Dementia. Training staff in using simple language, offering visual cues, and employing patience can create a more positive and comfortable environment.
  • Inclusive Policies: Developing policies that promote inclusion and understanding is essential. These policies could encompass flexible visiting hours, designated quiet spaces, and respectful language usage.

The DCM Institute will be exploring dementia in Retirement Villages during our upcoming Professional Development Day series across the country. In addition to providing networking opportunities, these days are designed to increase a Manager’s knowledge in key areas which will help them improve the experience of residents in their communities – with Dementia being one of the areas participants have expressed a keen interest in exploring further.

About Dementia

Dementia as a range of conditions and symptoms is increasingly becoming more common and visible in retirement villages.

While the onset of Dementia is typically gradual, the progression of Dementia varies. It is often described in terms of 3 stages:

  • Mild Dementia – difficulties with a number of areas such as memory, planning, organisation and personal care, but the person can still function with minimal assistance.
  • Moderate Dementia – difficulties become more severe and increasing levels of assistance are required to help the person maintain functioning in their home and in the community.
  • Severe or advanced Dementia – almost total dependence on care and supervision by others.

Dementia is not a normal part of aging and can affect anyone of any age, though it is more common the older you are.

Dementia Action Week banner

Dementia Action Week 2023 is from Monday 18 September to Sunday 24 September, with World Alzheimer’s Day occurring on Thursday 21 September.

This year’s theme is Act Now for a Dementia-Friendly Future.

For more information visit


“Bring them in”

Last week I had the great pleasure of joining more than 80 executives from around the country tour LDK’s community ‘Greenway Views’ in Canberra.

Consisting of over 300 units, LDK’s private aged care model was a new product in a new market and has successfully sold down within 3 years.

When asked about the immediate success they’ve had establishing themselves in Canberra, their response was quite poignant.

“Bring them in.”

The ‘them’ the team spoke of is groups within the wider community. The LDK team spoke of engaging with groups such as RSL, Rotary, Probus and more.

So, how do you bring these wider community groups into the fold? We’ve put together a short guide to help Village and Community Managers get started:

  1. Identify Your Partners: Look around your wider community and start a list. Is there a social group which attracts people of similar age to your residents? What about a school for some international activities? Is there an art studio or theatre group which speaks to the creatives in your village? What about the local Men’s Shed? These are potential partners waiting to be engaged. Reach out to them and express your interest in collaboration.
  2. Make Them Feel Welcome: When community groups step foot into your retirement village for the very first time, make sure they feel like part your community. Introduce them to your residents, or your Committee or Sub-Committees depending on the interest of the group. Allow them to feel at home and appreciated.
  3. Amenity sharing: If your retirement village has facilities like a community centre or a library, consider opening them up to these groups for meetings or small events. This not only promotes inclusivity but can also activate areas of the village at times of the day when it is typically quiet.
  4. Collaborate: Organise events that involve both your residents and the community groups. Think about intergenerational storytelling sessions, joint art exhibitions, or even a gardening day where everyone can get their hands dirty. This creates a sense of camaraderie and shared experiences. Likewise, these events allow you to show case you and your community to their members.
  5. Skill-Sharing Workshops: Your residents have a wealth of knowledge and skills, so why not share them? One of the interesting comments on the LDK tour was that any Community Group who uses their spaces, and visits, must include their residents. This is a great way to encourage residents to participate in these groups – and share their skills.
  6. Community Projects: Collaborate on projects that benefit the wider community. It could be a charity drive where residents collect good or knit items to be donated, or a fund raiser for a worthy cause in the local area. These projects show that your retirement village is invested in the greater good.

Embracing community engagement doesn’t just impact your retirement village; it creates a ripple effect that extends far beyond your front gate. When your residents mingle with people of different ages and backgrounds, they gain a renewed sense of purpose and belonging. They stay mentally and socially active, which is essential for healthy aging.

Moreover, the connections you build through community engagement can lead to lasting relationships and partnerships. It’s not just about one-off events; it’s about fostering an ongoing sense of community and unity that benefits everyone involved.

What is stopping you at your village? Bring them in.


Elderly family members inspire careers in retirement living and aged care sector

Monday was a special day for the more than 427,000 residential care, home care and retirement living staff who care for over 1.5 million older Australians across the country and within our local communities.

For many it also was the chance to say thank you to their families, whose love and care has seen them reciprocate it in their new lives.

Virginia Vaughan (pictured left with Nicole Lee) is employed by Carinity, which provides retirement living, residential care and home care. She cares for seniors in her role with Carinity Home Care Rockhampton in Central Queensland.

“I was fortunate to grow up with two sets of grandparents – one of whom we lived with most of my childhood – and a set of great-grandparents. I have always had a deep regard for the lifelong experiences of the people around me,” she said.

“About eight years ago my grandfather became terminally ill, and I took turns with my mother to nurse him in his own home through his final months. This really made me passionate about ensuring people can stay in their homes as long as possible.

“I particularly enjoy a bit of banter and a good yarn about the extraordinary lives people have led so far. Building these relationships ensures that I know my clients well and can help forge the best support systems for them.”

Minnarose Chacko, who began working as a Clinical Nurse (Infection Control) at the Carinity Karinya Place aged care community in Laidley in QLD’s Lockyer Valley Region last year, is inspired by her family in India.

Her mother is a nurse and Minnarose also “had such a good bond with my grandma”.

“I love interacting with older people. I love to hear their life stories. It is mesmerising to see them smiling and being happy,” she said. “I am a person who believes that we will receive what we give. I always see myself in my residents. I know that I will be one of them in 50 years.

“I believe that all the help and assistance I provide to my residents today, I will receive when I am older.”

“My mother wanted me to go down the path of nursing”

“When I was in Year 11 at school, my mother actually enrolled me in the Certificate 3 Health Services Assistant as she wanted me to go down the path of nursing,” said Katie McDougall, Lifestyle Coordinator, Calvary Robina Rise Residential Aged Care in QLD’s Gold Coast.

“I attended the course and did my placement in an aged care home across the road from my school. I was only 16 and it was definitely an eye opener. I continued as a nursing assistant for around eight years filling in for the Lifestyle team here and there and found my passion very early on in my life.

“Later on after my trip to Africa I knew I needed a change and I drove past Calvary Robina Rise which was being built at the time, applied for the job and I haven’t looked back since.”

Katie was part of the foundation team and been at the facility for just over four years.

“I was a Leisure & Lifestyle Officer and just over a year ago progressed to Lifestyle Coordinator,” she said.

“My core focus is to make residents feel welcome, comfortable and actually enjoy where they are living as aged care has such a stigma. My main role is to plan, implement and evaluate a Lifestyle Program that provides a range of individual, group and community activities according to resident’s individual assessed mental, physical, social, emotional, cultural and spiritual needs and preferences.”

Katie loves her job.

“I absolutely love what I do. I don’t know what other job you can do where you can dance at concerts, dress up in the most outrageous costumes, throw spectacular special events, become a celebrity impersonator, spend time talking with residents who have a wealth of knowledge and have lived through so much. Lastly, I love just being there for them in their most vulnerable moments. It’s an absolute honour to be such a big part of their final years.”

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National Suicide Prevention for Seniors Program

Would you know what to do if someone you support was experiencing thoughts of suicide?

Anglicare’s Suicide Prevention for Seniors Program equips those who support older people with the knowledge to help prevent suicide.

The free national program will teach you to see the signs of suicide, have a conversation and refer the person to professional support. The 3-hour workshop is contextualised around the experiences of older people.

The program is QIP accredited meeting all Suicide Prevention Australia standards and funded by the NSW and Australian governments.

To be eligible, you need to be supporting an older adult and have internet access.

Workshops dates for DCMI Members:

  • 26 September 2023, 12pm to 3pm AEST
  • 5 October 2023, 2pm to 5pm AEST

Register: Suicide Prevention for Seniors Program Registration Form for DCM Institute Members

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For more information email:  or visit: Anglicare website

Latest industry developments

Tasmania Government to have new draft Retirement Villages Act this year after residents’ complaints

Attorney General Elise Archer told the state government’s Budget Estimates Committee:

“Over recent months, my office and I have met with a number of residents of retirement villages and representative groups, including the newly formed Tasmanian Association of Residents of Retirement Villages.”

She said the association presented a number of residents’ concerns largely regarding the lack of operator transparency and large price rises in maintenance fees well in excess of the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

“We are now in the process of drafting legislation to amend the Act to strengthen protections, bringing Tasmania in line with other states such as Victoria, aimed at providing more robust protections and certainty for residents,” she said.

The Attorney General’s department is drafting a bill to amend the Retirement Villages Act to ensure residents are not subject to unreasonable increases in fees and charges, including increases that may be above CPI. 

The SOURCE: The fact that a residents association has been formed should be a concern to the Retirement Living Council 

Latest industry developments

Opposition Victorian MPs seek public consultation on amendments to Retirement Villages Act

In October last year, the VIC Government released the Retirement Villages Amendment Bill 2022 and asked for stakeholder submissions on the Bill to be submitted by the end of October 2022. The Government has announced a further seven months for stakeholder consultation on the Bill, now ending on 1 May.

Now Consumer Affairs Shadow Minister Tim McCurdy and the National’s State Member for Shepparton, Kim O’Keeffe, are seeking feedback on the proposed amendments.

“Retirement villages play a significant part of people’s lives, and we want to ensure that the process is understood and the locals making the move have the support they need to make an informed decision,” said Kim.

The SOURCE: Encouraging to see the Opposition party realise the importance of the grey vote