Key things to help you everyday Key Things to Help You Everyday

Learning: A healthy habit to maintain over Christmas

This time of year is the ultimate work-life disruptor, causing a loss in momentum across a number of areas and making healthier habits an effort to re-establish in the new year. Learning, being one of those.

The next few weeks truly test our habits as professionals. Our ability to manage time and commitments. To continue to get things done in our personal and professional life.

It is also a time of year when some of the better habits we have developed over the year, tend to drop off.

What might seem like a short pause, can leave you to really lose momentum on things that would otherwise set you up for success in the year ahead. Learning is one of those things.

The truth is this is the ‘best’ time of year to get around to completing those topics in the Knowledge Centre. To take advantage on the quieter moments between Christmas and New Year (for those working through) to brush up on areas you’ve been meaning to improve on during the year.

Develop a plan of attack.

Be consistent. Be disciplined. Set yourself small goals in your Learning Journal. Aim for 30 minutes three times a week to learn something new, or revisit previous topics.

Celebrate small accomplishments which you can track through Professional Development Points.

Momentum in studying is pivotal for success. So embrace this time to catch up, review, and build your knowledge. Through dedication, planning, and a focus on achievements, you can carry forward your momentum into the new year, positioning yourself for continued growth and success in 2024 and beyond.

Key things to help you everyday

End of Year Checklist

Don’t you love hearing your friends and family talk about how things are winding down as we approach Christmas? As Village Professionals, we know it’s the opposite. Things never really quieten down in the Village.

Rather, we see a quite moment as a chance to tick off the end of year tasks that we may have put off during the year and get ourselves ready for next year.

A few of the items I’d work through between Christmas and New Year would include:

  • Ensure all Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans are up to date
  • Check resident handbooks are still current and update where required
  • Update resident emergency contact details
  • Take some time to visit the resident who doesn’t venture out of their unit
  • Have a look at your website to see if any changes need to be made
  • Clean out the office cupboards and drawers – be ruthless
  • Get all the filing up to date – you may need to destroy records and require a secure bin
  • Clean up your email inbox, file those your need and delete those you don’t
  • Check any outstanding maintenance requests that may have been overlooked
  • Go through your To Do tray and finalise that one thing you keep putting to the bottom
  • Create the 2024 events calendar – brainstorm new activities with residents and staff
  • Block time out in your 2024 calendar for training and Professional Development AND finish off any topics you may have outstanding in the Knowledge Centre.

Most importantly, enjoy the chance to catch up on this and anything else you’ve had on your plate during the year. We head into a busy enquiry time in January and February. Getting these things completed will set you off in the right direction for 2024.

Key Things to Help You Everyday

Tips for making Christmas Memorable for a Resident with Dementia

With Christmas approaching and events already underway within our villages, it’s important to consider how we can best include residents we know are living with dementia.

While no two people experience dementia in the exact same way, dementia often affects the way people process and respond to their environment, writes Nikki-Anne Wilson, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA), UNSW Sydney.

Too much stimulation – like a lot of noise and activity at a Christmas party – can be overwhelming and may cause confusion or agitation.

Plan Ahead

People with dementia may experience changes in their appetite or food preferences, or difficulties chewing and swallowing. These changes might make some of the things on your festive menu unappetising or difficult to eat. Be guided by the needs and preferences of the person with dementia and keep options limited to one or two special foods if larger banquets are likely to be overwhelming.

Things can change quickly for people living with dementia and their abilities will vary from day-to-day. Try to be flexible and have a backup plan in place. If you’re planning a large event, consider ways in which to create pockets of smaller gatherings.

Keep it familiar

The sudden appearance of Christmas decorations may be overwhelming for a person living with dementia and trigger a negative sensory reaction or distress. Try and put-up decorations familiar and put them up slowly over a period of a few days.

A handy tip is to get to know your residents festive traditions and routines. Remember the old times with them. For many people with dementia, long-term memories are less affected than more recent memories. There might be ways to integrate them into your plans.

Consider seating arrangements at events, or identifying a support person.  Whether it be a member of staff, their spouse, or another resident, who can stay with them as a familiar face is a simple way to keep them part of what is going on, but also comfortable and engaged.


Consider the lighting of the spaces where you are celebrating. Older people and people with dementia tend to need brighter light, however, also consider glare and shadows which may be confusing for the person with dementia (or those with visual impairments.)

Have a quiet space

When you have activities and events one, ensure there is a place where the person living with dementia can go if things become overwhelming. This could be a quiet corner of a break-away area.

Involve the person living with dementia

One of the real benefits of retirement living is the social responsibility the community has in recognising everyone has a role to play.

At times, this may mean modifying tasks to suit the abilities of the person with dementia. For example, try to get them involved in small tasks that contribute to the overall activity or event.

People with dementia are still the same person, even if their abilities have changed or they can no longer communicate their needs and feelings like they used to. It’s important to treat everyone with dignity and ensure our communities remain inclusive.

Despite best intentions, sometimes it won’t work

Despite the best laid plans, sometimes it won’t be possible to share in festive celebrations with a person living with dementia.

Lets be honest for a moment, as professionals who genuinely care about the wellbeing of all of our residents, this may be difficult to admit and it is important to look after your mental health.

Where residents do not have family or friends nearby, caring responsibilities fall on other residents, our staff and ourselves. This can often lead to them or us being the ones who need support.

If this is the case. If you or someone you know is struggling to care for someone with dementia, Dementia Australia has some excellent resources readily available which includes a National Helpline.

Latest industry developments

Village Managers go from strength to strength

At VILLAGE SUMMIT in Sydney on 30 November we welcomed another nine Village Managers into the 1,000 Club. 

Live in five capital cities in November, this single-day event brought together the largest network of Village Professionals in Australia with more than 600 delegates attending. 

One highlight at each event has been recognising Village Managers committed to their own professional development and have achieved 1,000 Professional Development Points in the DCM Institute Professional Development program. 

Joining other Award recipients from around the country were: 

Professional Development Points are awarded to participants in DCM Institute’s Village Manager Professional Development Program each time a topic is completed, or an event attended either online, or in person.  

“Most participants achieve 300 points per year, which demonstrates these professionals’ commitment to their learning and development over a number of years with us,” said Tiffany Folbigg, DCM Institute’s Operations Manager. 

“The points serve as a transcript of each participant’s achievement. Over the course of VILLAGE SUMMIT, we have had the privilege of recognizing those who have excelled, year in, year out.”  

Congratulations to Lauren, May Ann, Jodi, Sarah, Eloise and Doug.

Latest industry developments

Opportunity of a Golden Decade Ahead: VILLAGE SUMMIT 2023 

Village Summit concluded in Sydney yesterday, with DCM Group CEO, Chris Baynes, declaring a ‘golden decade’ ahead for Village Professionals. 

Speaking on the fantastic job Village Managers did in supporting residents, Chris explained,

“We have waiting lists at many, many retirement villages, so we are in the golden decade where demand exceeds supply.” 

Across the month of November, the DCM Institute presented Village Summit in five capital cities. This single-day event brought together the largest network of Village Professionals in Australia with more than 600 delegates attending across the county. 

“There are sales to be had. We’re getting price uplift and greater appreciation by families, the media, the government.”

Golden Decade = Opportunity 

“Village professionals can turn a village’s culture around like ‘that’.”  

Thoughts shared by Matt Church in a stirring presentation on leadership at Village Summit in Sydney yesterday. 

Ranked among one of the top ten motivational speakers in the world, Matt Church (pictured) returned to Village Summit 2023 with a keynote address to prime those in attendance to make the most of the opportunity presented by the ‘golden decade’ ahead. 

Matt inspired attendees to see themselves as leaders, and to understand how the choice to lead can have a big impact on the people around them. He says:

“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.”

Sector leaders agree, village management is the key 

The conversations around the ‘golden decade’ with leading executives in the sector spoke to the role of the village manager in the years to come. 

Sally Taylor, Managing Director of Retirement by Moran spoke on the increasing care needs of residents. “Our job is to adapt to their [the resident’s] needs and partner with care providers where it’s needed. That will be once again falling back on the Village Manager and the village management team.” 

Daniel Dwyer, CEO of Fresh Hope Care noted a big part of their mission is to address social isolation of residents. “If we’re truly combating loneliness and creating a sense of community, that’s a huge piece… that a village manager is dealing with.” 

Training and professional development can’t be overlooked 

As the sector looks to the decade ahead, its clear that the training and professional development will continue to be key. The NSW Rules of Conduct require an operator to invest in the training and professional development of their staff. This is on the radar of Department Auditors. 

Further, the Retirement Living Council’s Code of Conduct requires signatories to also be investing in the skills and development of their people. 

Speaking on the need to invest in their people, CEO of RetireAustralia, Brett Robinson spoke at the Brisbane event stating,

“The investment and support you [the DCM Institute] provide to us and our organisation in developing our leaders is wonderful. Days like today are incredibly important to all our people to step out of the issues that they stare into every day in our villages to get their heads up and out and learn and grow.” 

For more information about the DCM Institute and our professional development program for Village Managers, contact 

Latest industry developments

Reflect, Adapt, Succeed: The key to reflective learning 

That’s a wrap. After three weeks and five capital cities, Village Summit 2023 finished up in Sydney yesterday.   

Across the country we were joined by more than 600 village professionals, executives, sponsors and one world class motivational speaker in Matt Church. 

This year we presented delegates with the inaugural DCM Institute Learning Journal to allow attendees to capture those learning moments to take back to their communities or discuss with their peers during the networking breaks. 

From a Learning and Development perspective, it was fantastic to see these journals put to use across the day, capturing insights and those little nuggets of gold shared by our speakers. 

Now, before you put those Learning Journals away in your desk drawer, we wanted to take a moment and ask you to STOP

Here is why.  

For the next five minutes, take out your Learning Journal for a moment of ‘reflective learning.’ 

Reflective Learning is when you look back on an experience like the Village Summit or any of our Professional Development Days to reflect, adapt and sow the seeds for success.  

Here are a few questions to consider when reviewing your notes on the day. 

  • Which sessions stood out the most to me, and why? 
  • What were the key takeaways or actionable insights that I can apply in my professional practice? &, how? 
  • Did any sessions challenge my existing beliefs or assumptions? How can I further explore or reconcile these differences? 
  • In what ways can I share the knowledge gained from this conference with colleagues? 
  • How can I set up a support system so I can track how the implementation of the above ideas are tracking? 

Reflective learning can be a powerful tool. As a technique, it ensures insights from an experience are adapted into our professional lives so they might be replicated for success. 

We hope to see these Learning Journals back with you in 2024.

For those who couldn’t make it to VILLAGE SUMMIT, the content will be available online and in the Knowledge Centre for our program participants soon. 

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Tips from a Village Manager on making Christmas memorable  

As a Village Manager, ensuring a welcoming and festive atmosphere for residents during the holiday season comes somewhat of a priority the moment the calendar ticks over to December. 

It is important we keep up our spirits (not literally), in making this month memorable each year. For some residents, this might be the first Christmas in their new home, for others their social circle might be getting smaller, or they might be living away from their family. 

Reflecting on my time as a Village Manager, I thought I’d list some of the go to ideas that helped my community to be engaging and festive each year. 

1. Plan thoughtful outings 

Getting out of the retirement village can be a great way to engage with residents who are looking to do something different. Arranging special outings can be a thoughtful gesture and can range from a trip to the shops to give residents a chance to pick up last minute gifts, through to an evening drive to admire the Christmas lights in your local area. 

These outings not only bring joy but also contribute to a sense of community spirit. 

2. Encourage guests and visitors 

Making the community centre available for residents and their families and friends entices residents to have visitors outside of their unit – which might sometimes be a bit too cosy. Some go as far as having set times when residents can access barbeque areas or lounge rooms exclusively. Certainly something to consider. 

For family and friends who can’t be physically present, find a way to support your residents using technology. Enabling them to make a video call can go a long to bridge the gap and maintain connections. 

3. Uphold or establish traditions 

Finding a way to continue residents’ Christmas traditions is something to have on your radar. This may include an annual event the Social or Residents’ Committee host, through to valued decorations. 

For newer communities, or if no established traditions exist, consider initiating new ones like cookie decorating sessions, collaborative Christmas card writing, or small gatherings for carolling with fellow residents. 

4. Engage in community festivities 

One of my favourite things to personally engage in was wider community festivities. Finding time in our busy days and taking part in what was on around the village became a great way for me to spend time with residents and encourage their participation. I really found this fostered a sense of belonging and good will that lasted well into the new year.  

5. Welcome the generations 

A lot has been written about the value of intergenerational activities. The presence of younger generations in our villages can bring immense joy to residents. Encourage residents to invite their families, especially grandchildren, for a visit during the holiday season. Coordinating activities where school children can distribute treats or engage in festive crafts or carol singing not only brightens the residents’ spirits but also creates connection with the wider community. 

We are sure you have some of your own tips for the festive season. Feel free to share them with us. We’d love to hear them.

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Are your Village rules fit for purpose? 

As we travel around the country for VILLAGE SUMMIT, there has been one topic of discussion that stood out. That topic – Village Rules. More specifically, the need to review them. 

Changing Village rules is not a simple process, it takes time, collaboration, discussion and input from residents.   

Having been through this process before, our starting point was simply that the Village Rules hadn’t been updated in over 20 years.  

When we began discussing an update with residents, one of the questions we all asked was “were they still relevant?” 

In this example, about 70% were and 30% were outdated and needed to be removed, updated or reworded. 

What was also interesting during the consultation process was the introduction of new rules, mostly at the request of the residents.  

Once you consult with the committee and ask for their input it can be like opening a can of worms.  Everyone will have an opinion on what should and shouldn’t be in the rules and all opinions will be different.  Strap yourself in for the crazy requests for change, right down to the type and brand of shoes allowed to be worn on the bowling green. 

In all seriousness, the rules that were raised for consideration were those that weren’t considered 20 years ago, for various reasons. Think smoking, pets, even the use of common area amenities which had recently been introduced. 

Village rules are not something to set and forget.  They will need reviews and massaging to make sure they keep up with your ever-changing communities. 

You may put it in the too hard basket because of the time it can take, the multiple consultations with the residents and the hassle of a special resolution meeting.   

My experience is the opposite. I found the benefits of reviewing and updating can make for a happier community, entice new residents into the community and in my case allow four legged friends into the Village. 

Oh, and the specification of what shoes to wear on the bowling green, was approved. 

Latest industry developments

More Village Managers join the 1,000 Club 

DCM Institute’s 1,000 Club continued to grow at Village Summit 2023 in Adelaide last week.   

One of the highlights has been the DCM Institute taking the time to recognise those Village Professionals who have achieved 1,000 Professional Development Points through the completion of self-paced learning and attending networking days and events.  

In presenting the award, Tiffany Folbigg, DCM Institute’s Operations Manager commented,

“It is an absolute privilege to recognise the achievement of an exceptional group of people with a passion for their residents, their learning and their professional development.” 

South Australian recipients for 2023 are: 

  • Jodie Webb, Village Manager at Barunga by the Sea (Barunga Village Inc.) 
  • Kelly Reading, Village Manager, Magill Retirement Village (RetireAustralia) 
  • Megan Davis, Village Manager at Warrawee Lodge (Waikerie Community Senior Citizens Home Inc.) 

“These individuals continue to demonstrate a commitment to elevating the standards of the Retirement Living sector through their own development which is an inspiration to us all,” said Tiffany. 

DCM Institute shares this commitment to the ongoing Professional Development of Village Professionals and welcomes these recipients to the ever-growing 1000 Club.   

Congratulations to Jodie, Kelly and Megan.