Key things to help you everyday

Excuse me … Have you got a minute?

We often talk about the ’10 o’clock rule’ in the life of a village professional. Meaning that if we haven’t been able to get something done, we will struggle to do so after 10 am as this is when the question of “Excuse me… have you got a minute?” starts.

As busy as we are with budgets, organising activities and following up on maintenance requests, it is at this very moment that one of the most important tools we can have as managers needs to be used – listening.

It is also a tool that in a world of multitasking, we sometimes don’t use to its full potential.

How many times have you had a conversation with a resident, sitting in front of your computer with an eye on your email? Or been looking at a text message that has just come in.

In these instances when approached by residents, perhaps it is us who have misplaced our heading aids.

To be effective in these moments, and to pay attention and respect to the person who has asked “have you got a minute”, as managers who value the experience of our residents we need to STOP, LOOK, LISTEN.

Stop what you are doing & provide your full attention. If it’s a not convenient time, then set up a convenient time straight away so the person who wants your attention doesn’t feel like they are brushed aside.

Look for nuances the speaker could be offering that would provide more details than the spoken word.  Take in their body language, context of what is happening around you. These can be clues that what they are trying to communicate to you is more serious than it appears.

Listen to more than the spoken words, pick up on any difference of tone of voice, speed of speech that may be different from other interactions.

It sounds simple, and its supposed to be. In those moments of interruption from other things we need to get done, its taking the time to STOP, LOOK and LISTEN that we can demonstrate respect for the person across from us. Be present in the moment and give the person your full attention.

Listening is one of the loudest forms of kindness

Being more disciplined in ourselves It’s contagious. Your colleagues and staff members will likely follow suit, creating a more empathetic and customer-centric environment.

SO, next time you are asked “have you got a moment?”, be the standard you expect of others – one conversation at a time.

Key things to help you everyday

Meet the CEO (and Village Manager) who always thinks of Mum

Veronica Jamison is the CEO of Shepparton Villages (SRV) in northern Victoria, approximately 181km northeast of Melbourne.

She also acts as Village Manager for its three facilities near each other: Tarcoola, Shepparton North; Banksia Gardens, Kialla, and Rodney Park in Mooroopna.

Overall, SRV offers 270 homes/units, ranging from comfortable one- and two-bedroom units through to the larger two-bedroom and study homes with single or double garages. Each has access to a range of essential care and lifestyle services close by, including a twenty-four hour on call maintenance service and remote emergency monitoring.

Each of SRV’s villages has a Residential Aged Care Home co-located on site and overall, SRV operate a total of 286 residential aged care places at its three locations. In total, around 700 people call Shepparton Villages home.

“It’s a privilege to work in our residents’ homes because, over time, this place becomes their home. This work keeps you connected to your own values, and you learn something new from them every day,” she said.

Veronica prescribes to the “Mum Test” and encourages her team to do the same.

“Would I want my Mum to live here?”, “Would I serve my Mum that meal?”.

“In the ever-evolving landscape of aged care, this Mum test mantra reminds us of the importance of choice, respect, care, passion, and teamwork,” she said.

My team

Barry Curtis with resident Edie.

As in every village, the welfare of its residents is paramount, and the dedicated resident committee’s keep a watchful eye over village residents, without being intrusive, said Veronica.

“The dedicated Sales & Admission team led by Executive Manager, Corporate Services, Murray Burls, really focuses on delivering on the promises they make when people come to live with us. As local people, they often already know potential residents. Murray and his team work hard at establishing and maintaining a personable yet professional connection with all village residents. This touch really contributes to a positive environment in each of our Villages,” Veronica said.   

“Ed McNair, Projects & Maintenance Manager, leads a team of dedicated tradesman, gardeners and maintenance people. Given each Village has its own gardeners and maintenance teams, this has enabled trusting and respectful relationships to develop and grow between the village residents and the SRV team. Nothing is ever too much trouble for the team and this evident at the resident meetings, where residents constantly praise the efforts of the team.

SRV’s maintenance team: (From left) Rod Breen, Samuel Kennedy, Rod Allen, Barry Curtis and Glenn Daldy.

“From dealing with little things, like rubbish removal, smoke detector maintenance to the trickier things like floods, addressing resident welfare concerns, through to advocating to local politicians on the big issues that impact people living in retirement villages, the entire SRV team respond with the same calm and cheerful attitude, which is in harmony with SRV’s values of Respect, Care, Teamwork, Choice and Passion”.

Veronica adds she is proud of her team and the feeling is mutual.

Key things to help you everyday

Difficult Conversations: It’s time to stop driving

In my time as a Village Manager, I often found my role went beyond looking after the bricks and mortar of the community.  There were times, numerous in fact, when I’d have to address sensitive and challenging issues. One such time was the day I had to sit down a with a resident and suggest its time they stopped driving.

Let’s be honest, driving is independence. It’s that first step to being an adult and to freedom. It is completely understandable then why this is such a difficult conversation to have.

As Mangers we see every day the decline in the physical and cognitive abilities of our residents. Behind a wheel, this puts more than just the driver in danger.

Recognising the signs is crucial. As is recognising ‘when’ it is time to have the conversation.  

This is a daunting task. Yes, it is essential for the safety and wellbeing of the resident and the wider community. But it is still daunting, which is why it is crucial to involve family, or trusted friends of the resident.

Their support can help you have this conversation, with a unified front for prioritising the resident’s safety.

In reflecting on how I went about having these conversations, I’ve prepared a few tips to help you out for when the time comes.

  1. Choose the right time and place: Find a quiet, private, and comfortable setting to have the conversation. Ensure there are no distractions or time constraints.
  2. Use “I” statements: Express your concerns by saying, “I’ve noticed…” rather than “You are not fit to drive anymore.” This approach is less accusatory and more compassionate.
  3. Offer alternatives: Suggest alternative transportation options, such as public transit, community shuttle services, or arranging rides with friends and family. Emphasise that their safety is your top priority.
  4. Involve a medical professional: Encourage the resident to consult their doctor for an objective assessment of their driving abilities. A medical opinion can hold significant weight in the decision-making process.
  5. Respect their feelings: Understand that giving up driving can be an emotional experience. Be empathetic, patient, and willing to discuss their concerns and fears.
  6. Plan for the transition: If the decision is made to stop driving, help the resident plan for life without a car. Ensure they have access to transportation alternatives and support networks, and see what services they might be entitled to.
  7. Follow up: The conversation doesn’t stop the moment you walk out the door. Rather, you should make a point of checking in on the resident. Their wellbeing extends well beyond driving a car.

Of all the difficult conversations I’ve had over the years, this has been one that required a great deal of sensitivity and empathy. Only through having a conversation from a place of care and support, can you find a way for the resident to accept that today is the day they hand over the keys.

Key things to help you everyday

Why it’s important for Village Managers to understand all facets of aged care

Ashlee McGlashan, Village Manager at Bethanie Gwelup Retirement Village, in the suburb 12km north of Perth’s CBD, said understanding all facets of aged care is essential to be a part of our residents’ care journey from the start to the end.

“Providing them with the continuum of care is important in supporting them as they age, and ensure they feel safe and supported,” she told The West Australian.

“There are constant legislative changes in aged care, whether it’s about new laws to improve seniors’ experience of living in and leaving a village, or for a new funding model in aged care, which provides increased transparency and accountability.

They can be challenging to manage so it’s really important to be resilient in keeping up with the changes. I don’t necessarily see this as “the bad” as I believe the changes are made for a better consumer model of aged care and will ultimately benefit our residents.

“We build a lot of trust with our residents and sometimes they will only open up to us about their struggles. It’s important we can give them the right information or refer them to someone who can.”

Ashlee’s path to being a Village Manager is, like many, not ‘her first choice’.

“I went to university to study a bachelor of commerce (a double major in human resources (HR) and management). After university, I decided to start a career in HR and after a short period of time, I found out this industry wasn’t for me,” she said.

“I wanted to work in a community service industry and applied for a care manager role in home care in 2014. Since my first job in aged care, I have worked as a regional manager for home care, a sales manager (looking after a team of eight people), managing a short-term restorative care program partnering with Medibank, and a Village Manager. I found the more “I climbed the ladder” in my career, the more disconnected I became from the people we support. This was the reason I requested a role back in the community as a Village Manager, so I could be back in a supporting role.”

It’s a decision she is not regretting.

“Knowing that you are making a difference in someone’s life is truly the most rewarding part of our role. I love working with the elderly. They are lovely, generous, caring and there’s a lot we can learn from them,” she said.

Key things to help you everyday Latest industry developments Things to watch

Award Winning Keynote Speaker Returns to VILLAGE SUMMIT 2023

Earlier this week the we announced  award winning keynote speaker, Matt Church, will return to VILLAGE SUMMIT in 2023.

Presented by the DCM Institute, VILLAGE SUMMIT is a single-day event in five cities celebrating Village Managers. The sector’s foremost executives will share their expertise and explore the latest trends, innovations and strategic insights. Delegates will come away with new ideas and new connections.

“We are excited to have Matt join us in person around the country this year,” said James Wiltshire, Executive Director of the DCM Institute.

A visionary leader who has dedicated his life to inspiring and empowering individuals to be the best version of themselves. Matt firmly believes leaders are aware that leading yourself, leading others and leading change are the three critical orientations for doing the job well.

“There are many such ‘moments of truth’ in our days, where what we choose to say and do, how we show up, and the intent we hold as we go about our lives, impact the people and world around us. Leadership happens in moments, not meetings”– Matt Church

Founder and creator of Thought Leaders, Matt, is an author of many leadership books all working on the premise that when you choose leadership, and identify as such, you contribute to making the world a better place.

“Matt is a speaker who both inspires and challenges the status quo. We’ve spoken a lot about change in our sector, and the opportunity this presents for staff at the coal face and Matt is the perfect partner for year’s event,” James said.

At VILLAGE SUMMIT 2023, Matt will focus on disruption and lead the conversation around the importance of leaders having a culture of willingness to adapt in order to be agile, creative and build their foresight to take to on the opportunities ahead.

It was a sell out event last year with a 92% satisfaction score. The full program for each capital city can be found here, with registrations now open.

“Our intention for the day is for Village Managers to come away with a renewed passion for the vital work they do for their communities.  And we are making sure there is plenty of time for catching up with the network drinks starting at 4pm.  Getting together with their team mates from across the country is what previous delegates have told us is a real value ad for the day”, said James Wiltshire, Executive Director of the DCM Institute.

Key things to help you everyday

Levande’s new Victoria Area Manager began in book publishing, before owning a pharmacy, and then moving to sales

The high quality of people working in retirement living is typified by the career of Levande’s newly appointed Area Manager Victoria Edgley.

Her career began in the UK, as she gained valuable, transferable skills as a book publisher in Covent Garden, London, and then owning and managing a local pharmacy.

When she returned to Melbourne that she embarked upon the retirement living path, joining Not For Profit VMCH as a Village Manager. In this role, she helped establish the cultural foundation at the new Barnsbury development in Deepdene, which transformed unused tennis courts into an elegant boutique property. In less than a year, Victoria successfully supported and guided the village from pre-settlement to full occupancy.

She moved to Lendlease, assuming the dual roles of Sales and Village Manager at a well-established village in Burwood East.

“I found a whole new set of challenges here,” she recalled. “It was my job to oversee the entire sales process and to ensure residents’ transition into their new homes – which included villas and vertical accommodation – went smoothly. Lots to look after, but very satisfying.”

A highlight of Victoria’s time there was an early morning visit from Channel 7’s national breakfast program Sunrise, during which residents helped to showcase the village with water aerobics and a hat parade!

Victoria then took on the role of Senior Village Manager, overseeing the Victorian Premium Portfolio for Lendlease from Classic Residences Brighton. In this capacity, she spearheaded a major refurbishment project that not only engaged residents, but also was recognised with the Property Council’s award for the Best Refurbishment of 2021.

Victoria managed a diverse team on-site, offering residents a comprehensive array of services, including a Health and Wellbeing Centre, an a-la-carte restaurant and café, 24-hour on-site care, emergency response services, a grocery store, and a Day Spa. Her portfolio also included Menzies Malvern and The Brighton on Bay, and she took on the role of operational lead for Kennedy Place, by Ardency (now Keyton), a prestigious development in Richmond which opened last month.

Driven by her passion for new challenges and opportunities for growth, Victoria took up the position of Area Manager at Levande in July this year, marking a natural progression in her career.

“I was drawn to Levande’s vision of becoming the nation’s most trusted provider of retirement living, and I felt a strong alignment with its values, emphasizing trustworthiness, excellence, and caring,” says Victoria.

In her role as Victorian Area Manager, she provides essential support, guidance, and leadership to her team. She oversees a portfolio of villages within a designated region, ensuring their operational and financial success while prioritising an exceptional resident experience. Collaborating closely with the Chief Operations Officer, the Operations Leadership Team, and other Area Managers, she plays a pivotal role in shaping the strategic direction and translating it into core operational priorities for the villages.

One of Victoria’s primary focuses is driving employee engagement and nurturing leadership skills across her portfolio. She strives to align operational objectives with a skilled workforce that can deliver top-notch service to residents.

Victoria recognises the critical and multi-faceted role Village Managers play as the faces of the business.

“Village Managers are responsible for so much,” says Victoria. “Everything from safety and compliance, engagement programs, fostering a positive culture, managing finances, leading their teams, and, above all, prioritising residents’ well-being.”

Victoria says there’s no secret to success in her role – just an ability to listen to her team and residents, make well-informed decisions promptly, provide relevant support, and understand the diverse demands faced by Village Managers.

“I think any retirement living business must place residents and then village managers at the centre of its thinking, which is something I’ve been pleased to see exemplified at Levande. Our commitment to engaging with Village Managers, equipping them for success, and supporting resident engagement really resonates with me.”

To her village managers, Victoria’s advice is simple and clear: Keep up the excellent work! She recognizes their dedication to working with residents every day, often in dynamic and challenging environments.

Away from the villages, Victoria has a passion for travel and recently enjoyed a memorable trip to Egypt and Jordan. Vacation time gives Victoria a chance to relax and let someone else manage things for a change.

“Fortunately, my husband is very meticulous,” laughs Victoria. “Before we leave on holiday, he creates a day-by-day activity presentation, which actually makes things very organised and very convenient.”

Key things to help you everyday

Have you ever heard of a Learning Journal?

I was listening to a podcast the other day that was talking about the benefits of having a Learning Journal.

Basically, it is a way of capturing those little learning moments that happen on the job or while talking with someone else. Think about it!

In our face paced world, how many moments have you had in your career that have been, gone & now forgotten because they were not captured?

So what is a Learning Journal?

Think of it as a personalised space where you can reflect and collect your thoughts on an exchange of ideas that enhance your understanding on a subject or makes you look at a topic from another viewpoint. It can take the form of a small notebook (digital or hard copy) or audio files where you can capture learning moments you pick up during the day. 

Consider, talking with a resident, another team member, someone in your head office. Had you reflected on these moments and captured them somehow, where would you be now as far as integrating that knowledge into your daily life?

You see, not all learning happens through a formal training course.  A lot of our learning moments happen on the job or during our everyday lives.  These moments are part of our ongoing professional development.

Even mistakes are perfect learning moments, if you remember to record the lesson & reflect on how you could improve next time. Try keeping a small notebook to quickly jot down main points of any learning moments, doesn’t matter how big or small or where they come from.  The momentum of building this behaviour and accumulating your learnings will start to drive a self-reflection – which is a big part of our ongoing

Key things to help you everyday

It’s Ageism Awareness Day tomorrow:  Please don’t discriminate or abuse people over 50

DCM Institute is 100% behind Ageism Awareness Day, which is tomorrow, and supports all moves to end the abuse and discrimination of people aged over 50.

“Ageism is not some hollow empty trendy word, and there was hard evidence that stereotyping and discrimination against older people was damaging to the health and well-being of older Australians in many areas,” said Co-Chair of EveryAGE Counts Robert Tickner, the former Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs and the former Australian Red Cross CEO.

“It often starts when people, in their earlier fifties, are denied jobs or promotions. Later on in life it is often a root cause and contributor to elder abuse and the mistreatment in aged care exposed by the Aged Care Royal Commission.

“The statistics on unemployment of people over 50 are very revealing. 20 years ago, 1 in 20 people who were unemployed were between 50 and 65 but now that figure has doubled to 1 in 10, and worse, these people make up a much larger group among the long-term unemployed.

“All of us, if we live into our fifties or older will be impacted by ageism and that is one of the reasons we support intergenerational solidarity. Older Australians like the rest of the community want to be treated as individuals and not treated differently simply because they are older.

“There are so many false assumptions about older people which strip them of their agency and right to control their own lives, as our survey also revealed. Things like false assumptions about the inevitability of dementia as we age, lack of capacity of older people in the workforce when many want to, and are capable of, working, and false assumptions about needing help when many want to be self-reliant. Too often older people are talked down to in the community and in health care which further strips them of their autonomy and dignity.

“Sure some older people may need support but the bottom line is that it is best to see older people as individuals and not make generalised assumptions or gratuitous, thoughtless and offensive jokes about their age.”

EveryAGE Counts’ website houses “The Real Old” which is a myth busting publication blowing false stereotypes about ageing out of the water. It is highly recommended.

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The Village Manager behind the filming of ABC TV’s Old People’s Home For Teenagers

Kylie Burgess, Village Manager of Australian Unity’s Constitution Hill Retirement Community in Northmead, 26km west of Sydney’s CBD, is not part of the second series of the ABC TV show.

However, it was Kylie, who ensured the cameras came to Constitution Hill three days a week for eight weeks when a busload of teenagers interacted with 10 of the residents Annelise, 78; Dale, 71; Dave, 80; David, 94; John 91; Lorraine, 78; Maz, 77; Pat, 94; Richard, 76, and Robert, 80.

“Earlier this year I received an email stating that the production company was looking for a retirement village in western Sydney to film the series and would we be interested. Meetings were held and we were selected over a village in North Rocks,” Kylie told FRIDAY.

“The residents enjoyed it once filming started. Initially they did not like it because of the title Old People’s Home For Teenagers.

“You might see me behind a bush, or running behind a bush, but I don’t think so.

“We had a screening party yesterday afternoon and everyone loved the show.”

Kylie has been at Constitution Hill for just over three years. She was promoted to Village Manager in January, after starting as Assistant Village Manager.

Key things to help you everyday

Once again, lets go PINK this October

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia.

In retirement villages, this month can take on special significance. In watching this day be observed in villages around the country, there is a great unifying moment when you realise that this disease has touched staff and residents either personally or through loved ones.

With 9 people losing their lives to the disease every day, this month is an important time each year to highlight why research in this area is so crucial.

By advocating for breast cancer awareness and fundraising, our communities can contribute to one of the many charities that support this cause. This can be from funding research through to supporting those impacted by breast cancer.

One of the most visible ways to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month is by wearing pink throughout October.

Retirement village residents can encourage their fellow community members to join in, creating a sea of pink that symbolizes unity and support. Holding events like pink-themed gatherings, educational seminars, and fundraising activities can further enhance the sense of belonging and purpose for our residents, and staff.

There are a number of charities who would love to hear from you during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, including the National Breast Cancer Foundation or the McGrath Foundation.

We are also aware of operators and Managers who have existing established fund raising events during the month of October, and we will be sharing their successes during the month via our LinkedIn page.

Whether your goal is to educate your community about breast cancer, to promote breast health with screening reminders and mammogram incentives; or to raise money for charities and breast cancer research; to Honor the fallen, or to support current patients and survivors – you and your residents can make a difference.