Latest industry developments

Changes at the DCM Institute: Jodie Prosser pulls back

After 4.5 years, our great friend and inspiration, Jodie Prosser, has decided to pull back from her deep engagement in the DCM Institute to focus on her close and extended family.

Jodie will remain as our ‘Adjunct Professor’, providing a regular eye on content development and occasional PD Day attendance, not to mention the VILLAGE SUMMIT.

Satisfaction and professional development

It has been quite a journey. Jodie, Jill Donaldson and I (later joined by Judy Martin) read the market research report from our 2018 DCM Resident Research project, where nearly 20,000 residents reported their village manager was either the greatest source of satisfaction for living in a village or, when skills were lacking, the greatest source of dissatisfaction (pictured below).

Jodie, with all of her adult life engaged in managing villages, said we could shape not a training program, but rather an ongoing professional development program to support village managers to deliver the best outcomes for residents.

And that is what Jodie did.

Along the way we travelled together for three weeks in America to learn about other models. We were joined by Judy Martin in Boston and Washington after Judy was elected Chairperson of the world peak body, the Global Ageing Network, in Toronto. The experience and talent across the two of them is quite remarkable. (Jodie photographed below with the designer of the original Apple Macintosh in San Francisco on a Village Summit fact finding trip).

Then last year, despite COVID-19, we travelled to New Zealand and established the Te Ara Institute, a joint venture with the Retirement Villages Association of New Zealand, providing tailored professional development programs there.

We have had great support from Sally Middleton as liaison with DCMI participants and Tania Kelly making the operations side hum.

New expertise

We are now pleased to announce the appointment of Tiffany Follbigg as National DCMI Administrator, who brings a wealth in Learning and Development experience from the home care sector.

Connie Comber also joins us as Regional Manager to provide participant support. Connie has been a Village Manager in a large regional centre, plus she is a highly qualified dispute mediator.

We are seeking to employ a second Regional Manager to work with Connie. You can see our announcement below.

Roxy D’Silva is on maternity leave for the next three months.

And Judy Martin continues in her leadership role as Director – Industry Engagement.

550 participants

Today we have over 550 DCMI participants, a number we could have only dreamt of four years ago. So thanks to you for your faith and thanks again to Jodie for her vision and professional execution, while not forgetting Judy as our early partner.

And more is to come.


Seeking a Regional Manager

  • Supporting DCMI Institute participants in Professional Development programs
  • Liaising with retirement village operators to engage new village managers
  • Tracking village sector state regulations and compliance

With more than 550 participants in the DCM Institute village management professional development program, we are seeking an additional Regional Manager to support existing participants and operators, plus new entrants to our ongoing 12-month program.

You will have experience as a Village Manager or within head office village management. You will naturally be a people person and have strong self management skills.

The role is Sydney-based and will require occasional travel.

This is a vitally important role and will provide high career satisfaction.

Please contact Antonia Norris for more information &/or provide your CV in confidence. 

Key things to help you everyday

Team Culture: we all want it, but how to build it?

We all understand that having a positive team culture can transform the quality of our daily work life, plus transform what we achieve individually and as a team.

Having an effective retirement village team is doubly important because each member is interacting with residents every day but often alone (think maintenance and office reception).

But what is team culture?

Team culture is a combination of:

  • Values,
  • Beliefs, and
  • behavioural norms

 that team members share.

It can be seen in the way leaders and followers behave when representing the company.

A good team culture has several identifiers, such as:

  • It includes great leaders
  • It develops a great and satisfying place to work
  • It produces more engaged work colleagues 
  • It reduces interpersonal conflicts
  • It reduces turnover

Telling questions: how to build a good team culture

Begin by understanding the existing culture. Use the following checklist of questions to assess it:

  • What are the corporate values?
  • What is the level of employee awareness of corporate values?
  • What are the values reflected in worker behaviour?
  • What are the values reflected in managerial behaviours?
  • Are employees supportiveness?
  • Do workers respect each other?
  • Are there shared beliefs in achieving business goals?
  • Does management act to communicate, maintain, or improve team culture?
  • Are there operational processes that support healthy staff behaviours?
  • Are there managerial activities that negatively influence staff behaviours?
  • What are the company policies and protocols that guide staff behaviour?

Activities for promoting a strong company culture

1.    Stakeholder feedback

Request the feedback of employees, clients, and other external stakeholders regarding staff values, beliefs, and norms of behaviour.

2.    Culture of the management

The culture of the company leaders is likely to have a bigger influence on team culture than any other factor. In a good team culture, the senior managers are its main advocates.

3.    Reward workers who reflect the team culture

To promote a strong team culture, it’s important to show your employees that you value their contributions to it.

4.    Hire people who suit the team culture

It’s important to hire employees who can support your team culture instead of sabotage it.

Most important of all, a positive team culture develops a great and satisfying place to work. And that must be good.

Key things to help you everyday

How easy is it to exit a resident?

At our May PD Day around the country, we asked our legal partners in each state to walk us through the laws and regulations around the exiting a resident from retirement village.

It was universally recognised as a regrettable objective, and one not attempted lightly.

It was explained that there does exist pathways through tribunals and outside experts say in the realm of dementia, but at the end of the day in every state it was acknowledged that there is no failsafe way to achieve the exit.

Firstly, the many months to years it takes to go through a tribunal makes this a rarely attempted route. With behaviour that is dangerous or negative to the overall ability of residents to lead a quiet and unsettled existence, there is little that can be implemented to expedite a departure.

In other words, it is a task of negotiation, mediation and persistence with the resident or their family to achieve the exit.

This is far from satisfactory for village residents, their families and the operator staff. But this is the fact that remains.

What the research tells us

Running the numbers: how many people will a village support in its lifetime? Around 560 across 32 years

Our colleague Jake Nelson wrote this article on Tuesday in the SOURCE. We thought it may interest you if you missed it.

560 residents pass through a village in its life

As the population continues to age and the baby boomers look to downsize, having a good supply of retirement village and seniors living stock is important to any local council – but a given village may not support as many people over its life as you might think.

Suppose we have a brand-new village that sells out all of its 100 units in its first year. Most villages will turn over its resident population roughly every eight years, and it likely has a lifespan of about 32 years where it still looks good to the market.

In the first year, around 70% of its new residents will be couples and 30% singles, meaning a total population of around 170 people. After eight years, this trend reverses – 30% of new residents will be couples and 70% singles, meaning the next “generation” of residents is around 130. If the same 30/70 split persists, then over the course of its four turnovers of residents, the village will support a total of just 560 people.

All this means that a single retirement village in a local government area is not going to meet that council’s requirements for seniors housing, and the area may need five to 10 villages – or another form of seniors housing that can accommodate more people.

Food for thought!

Things to watch

Pets and a service you may not know about

More pets are being allowed into retirement villages, which is great. But what happens when the owner needs to go to hospital and the pet needs to be left behind for a period?

LDK Greenway Views village manager Michelle Bennet said the Brisbane-based owner/operator considers the trip hazard of pets around its villages is far outweighed by residents keeping their companions.

Andrew Rambow and his four-year-old border-collie Rosy (pictured) arrived at LDK Greenway Views in Tuggeranong, Canberra, 16 months ago as a firmly entwined pair.

“Rosy is part of the family. And everyone here loves her. The way they smile is just unbelievable.”

Andrew is supported by Pets and Positive Ageing (PAPA), Northside Community Service and ACT Pet Crisis Support to help walk and groom Rosy and take her to the veterinary clinic.

PAPA, who advised Andrew to move to LDK Greenway Views, are talking to LDK about further plans to look after pets if the owner needs to go to hospital.

“It’s about emotional health because we know that’s just as important,” Michelle told Riotact.

Key things to help you everyday Latest industry developments

10 years of golden growth ahead for the retirement living sector

If you read our sister newsletter The SOURCE each Tuesday you would be aware that new retirement village and similar community developments are coming thick and fast!

In fact the elder statesman of the retirement village sector, Jim Hazel, says we are entering a 10 year golden period where demand will be increasing each year. This is largely due to Covid spurring people to reconsider their safety, security and independence living alone in a family home.

To give you an idea of the exciting developments, we just pulled out the announcements of the last week:

Living Choice Flagstaff Hill (pictured above), which is 16km from Adelaide’s CBD, is South Australia’s first fully integrated golf course/retirement community.

Seven properties already have been bought off the plan with construction well underway on Stages 1 and 2, comprising 42 villas and 17 apartments.

Retirement Your Way is expected to open its second retirement village, Oasis Peakhurst, 21km south of Sydney’s CBD, in October/November.

65% of the 41 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments have been sold off the plan.

Palm Lake Group Managing Director Scott Elliott calls what will be known at The Springs by Palm Lake Resort as “arguably, the most iconic over-50s community Australia has ever seen.”

The first of 321 homes, with either water frontage or direct golf course access, at Palm Lake Resort Pelican Waters, on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast will be opened early next year, weather permitting.

VMCH (Villa Maria Catholic Homes) is “writing a bold new narrative” for a 1.6ha village in Kew, Melbourne. “Everything from the precinct’s design through to the way we take it to market and the facilities and services we’ll deliver to residents will push the envelope for retirement living in Australia,” said VMCH CEO Sonya Smart.

The latest acquisition by Ryman Healthcare, which has more than $2 billion of retirement villages under development in Victoria, is its biggest project in Australia – a 2.56ha former industrial site in Coburg North.

We expect that approximately 2500 new village homes will be built this year, representing approximately 250 villages or five new villages every week. The value? $1.7 billion.

Latest industry developments

Legislation reviews – A heightened focus on resident rights will require more and better communication by operators

Retirement Village Act legislative reviews are underway in four states, so it was great to get updates from DCMI Industry Legal Partners:

  • Minter Ellison (NSW 7 QLD)
  • Russell Kennedy (VIC)
  • Jackson McDonald (WA)
  • O’Loughlins Lawyers (SA)

There was absolutely a common theme that there is a heightened focus by regulators and Ministers toward increasing residents’ rights.

Rosemary Southgate Partner, Russell Kennedy, succinctly shared her belief governments are clearly focused on creating rights-based frameworks that promotes:

  • resident independence
  • the ability to make their own decisions
  • a clear right to privacy
  • and a right to have security in their tenure

If this is not a big indicator that as operators we are likely to be compelled to review our operational practices and more specifically how we communicate and consult with residents, then I am not sure what is.

Information, governance, exit entitlements

The team from Minter Ellison went on to highlight the 3 key regulatory reform themes they believe are the focus for many of the reviews:

  • Information – disclosure, transparency and clarity
  • Governance – residents rights, standards of operations and training and qualification
  • Exit entitlements – buybacks, caps on recurrent charges, and reinstatement Vs renovation clarity

Disputes, training

In Victoria there is discussion on the need for a review of dispute resolution procedures and even discussion of the appointment of an independent body to guide disputes.

In Victoria and South Australia there is significant focus on training and qualifications and the operator’s responsibility to ensure staff have the adequate skills and maintain them, with both states keen to investigate the need for a qualification.

With a new Labor Minister in South Australia, and a pending election in Victoria, I am sure any new government will be keen to reinforce policies to uphold the rights of the consumer ie. residents in Retirement Villages, highly influenced by the well-coordinated resident associations.

Dialogue and communication remain key to respectful relations.

Key things to help you everyday Things to watch

Who has the keys? Tips for before and after the storm – or flood or fire – plus Duty of Care

It is vital that all communities – including village communities – are well prepared to deal with the immediate impact and subsequent consequences of these events.

Emergency planning is elementary and vital; you can read more about this in our previous article Emergency evacuations – do you have a plan? | DCM Institute (

However, there are 2 areas of emergency planning that often get over looked:

1. Emergency services information, and

2. Post Incident procedure.

Emergency Services Information

It is vital that when an emergency services crew arrive at the village they have access to important information such as:

  • Where to access the stop valves to turn off the water?
  • Where to access the electrical box to turn off the power?
  • What residents have PEEP’s (Personal emergency evacuation plans) and will need assistance to leave their homes?
  • Can they get access to a master key to access all areas?

This can be done in a variety of ways, including signage and chief wardens, however one of the best strategies we have implemented is clear signage pointing to an Emergency Manifest Box (the red box) that houses updated information for residents, emergency plans, PEEPS, master keys, key personnel phone contact details, site maps with utility shut off locations etc…

Another important strategy is to host the local emergency services and utilities crews at the village for a review once a year so that they are familiar with any changes that may have occurred to the infrastructure or accessibility.

Post Incident Procedures 

Another area that often gets overlooked when undertaking emergency planning is the post incident procedures.  

  • What happens if there is no power restoration for a longer period of time – even weeks? 
  • What happens if there is no access to the village for days or weeks?
  • What happens if there is no internet access for a longer period? 
  • What happens if residents are likely to be dislodged from their homes for a long period?
  • What communication methods will be used if residents are not all housed in one location?
  • And many other considerations that might need to be considered.

It might even be that there is a need to identify at what point do your emergency evacuation procedures finish and your Business Continuity procedures kick in. 

Nevertheless, these are vital activities that require some thought and consideration in preparation for possible longer term impacts of emergency events. 

Latest industry developments

Meet Stockland Bay Village Retirement Estate’s Terri Winn who has been a Village Manager for 30 years.

A remarkable effort and a tribute to supporting senior Australians.

“I didn’t choose retirement living, it chose me,” she told The Times from the village in Victor Harbour, a coastal town, 82km south of Adelaide’s CBD.

“I have lots of thank you cards, even from people who didn’t move into the village.

“I have enjoyed getting to know some families really well, and have been invited to residents’ weddings, even helping organise a wedding at Bay Village.

“Before COVID, hugs were also good too.”

Perhaps she revealed the secret to being a good village manager.

“I’ve really enjoyed and worked well with the Resident Committees,” she said.

Tell us what makes a really good village manager and we’ll publish the best responses: Email: