Things to watch

New Year means new opportunities for the village sector

2020 was one hell of a year, thanks largely to COVID-19. The good news is the sector responded in a way we should all be very proud of.

We hope the festive season was kind to your community, your team and yourself. And to our colleagues and communities impacted by the COVID outbreaks that were in lockdown over this period, please know our thoughts were with you.

Encouragingly though, interest in retirement living remains high.

In fact, data from our sister company shows interest is in fact up 9% from the same time last year.

Over 4,000 people searched for a village on Monday alone!

The sector should be buoyed by this, and ready to hit the ground running.

While we don’t have a crystal ball, we at the DCM Institute believe 2021 will offer a range of opportunities including:

  • Operators further enhancing learnings and innovations developed thanks to COVID in 2020, working with residents
  • Royal Commission to outline and promote benefits of retirement living sector
  • DCM Institute continuing to expand tools and support, and aim for best practice operations across the nation

It is indeed an exciting time to be in retirement living.

Key things to help you everyday Latest industry developments

Royal Commission spells out 2021/22 retirement village strategy

Those of you who have been following the Royal Commission into Aged Care will be aware that the Commissioner’s Final Report, and the much-awaited recommendations, are due. 

And the opportunities for retirement villages are exciting. 

The Counsel Assisting Recommendations from last November call for both the federal and state governments – at Cabinet level – to support what is essentially the retirement village model.

In particular, we’ve been interested by paragraphs 165 to 170 at the beginning of their 450-page report. These paragraphs state:

A key element of the strategy should be about encouraging older Australians to take active steps to preserve and maintain their own health and wellbeing in later life, with the Government supporting people to take the first step.

There should be an integrated system for long term support and care of older people and their ongoing engagement with the rest of the community.

This requires the involvement of all levels of government and establishing linkages between aged care and other relevant domains, such as:

  1. the broader health sector and welfare and community services
  2. affordable and age-appropriate housing

Such a system should be the focus of a National Cabinet Reform Committee on Ageing and Older Australians.

It adds: The State and Territory governments have a critical role to play.

As you can see, a case could be made for the Royal Commission endorsing villages as a solution for ageing well.

The Final Report is released on 26 February.

If retirement villages are recognised and endorsed as a solution for ageing well, the world can be a very different place for village professionals, and most importantly our residents.

Key things to help you everyday

DCM Institute committed to supporting the sector in 2021

At the DCM Institute, we are committed to supporting both new and experienced retirement living professionals in your journey. We look forward to continuing to provide professional development activities that will reinforce knowledge, enlighten and stimulate different ways of thinking. 

In 2021 we plan to focus on key topics, including:

  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Valuations
  • Insurance
  • Asset Management

We will support many of our participants as you navigate the changing legislation and help you better understand the benefits of engaging in the national accreditation scheme.

We will continue to offer topics via our Knowledge Centre Portal and webinars for those in regional areas or those that like short bursts of learning.

We will also strive to engage with the sector and return to some form of face-to-face engagement throughout the year, restrictions allowing.

Help us help you in 2021 

To finish our first edition for the new year, we thought we’d put a call out to our members to let us know what else they want to learn about in 2021.

Consultation and engagement have always been key to what we’ve done at the DCMI Institute.

So, feel free to click the link below or reply to this email, and let us know about topics you would like to know more about or see discussed in the newsletter during 2021.

We’re always keen to hear from you.

Key things to help you everyday Things to watch

Village sales are booming, but now’s no time to be complacent​

The DCM Institute team regularly speaks with village professionals around the country, and we’ve been pleased to hear about the strong sales cycle experienced by many in the sector.

Some operators have reported as many as four sales per week, and many now have no vacancies.

This is great news, and supports results of a study our sister-company DCM Research conducted with Australia Online Research (AOR) from March through to July.

The study identified 43% of people aged 60+ are feeling an increased sense of vulnerability as a result of COVID, prompting 20% to reconsider the suitability of their own home.

This is a huge opportunity for retirement villages.

Complacency creeps in

While a strong sales market is a good thing, there can be some negative consequences.

It’s so easy for a sales team to fall into complacency when things are going well, and disciplined practices we implement in harder times like follow-up calls and engagement activities can easily fall by the wayside.

One of the biggest mistakes a village can make is to stop looking for process improvements or ways to engage new potential residents.

Let’s not forget, it takes potential residents up to an average 18 months to make a final decision.

So even in the good times, it’s vital to keep momentum going. 

Lead management

One key area to focus on is lead management.

Recent research indicates up to 97% of prospective clients start their search for a village on the web. Many of these people will visit your website several times before making an enquiry.

It’s worth considering how you engage with prospects who are spending time on your website, and how this knowledge may then benefit your sales process.

When a prospect enquires on a website, we collect general information – name, phone, email address and timeframe to move, for example.

This is helpful, but what if we could gain a deeper insight into the prospect?

Give a little, get a lot

The use of gated offers, the opportunity to download an e-book, interview, checklist or research, not only helps prospects make their decision to contact you, but it positions your village as the expert, and sets the tone for a helpful, transparent relationship.

You can also use this to collect further information such as housing preferences, locations of interest and hobbies/interests, to get to know the prospect on a deeper level.

This insight is gold to salespeople.

It lets them build rapport quickly and importantly provides an opportunity to tailor service and engagement activities to each prospect.

Furthermore, if a sales person is able to see the number and type of interactions a prospect has had on the website prior or during their engagement it allows them to prioritise and add further value to the client’s journey. 

Always be on the lookout for opportunities

Whether the market is booming or bust, we should always be looking for opportunities to bring the client to their decision sooner and aiming to create strong, engaged waitlists.

Investment in these types of lead management strategies always pays off.

Even when the times are good, it’s the one-percenters that count.

Key things to help you everyday

Christmas is coming, but will your residents’ parcels arrive in time?

After the year we’ve had, it’s fair to say plenty of us are hanging out for Christmas.

With just seven weeks to go, we thought it was worth researching the postal cut-off dates to make sure everyone’s parcels arrive with plenty of time to spare.

This year we’ve set a few reminders, and it’s worth sharing these dates with your residents who might want to send parcels of their own.

Australia Post guidelines

Sending within Australia:

Send Parcel Post by Saturday 12 December 2020.
Send Express Post by Saturday 19 December 2020.

For sending letters within Australia this Christmas, standard delivery timeframes apply.

Sending internationally:

Delivery dates to send your Christmas parcels and letters overseas are listed below. Circumstances can change rapidly, so these dates may be subject to change. Also, note that time in customs is not included in our delivery time estimate and is outside of Australia Post’s control.

Recommended final sending dates for major destinations (Standard Post):

USA, Canada, UK, Europe: Monday 16 November 2020

Most of Asia: Monday 23 November 2020

New Zealand: Friday 27 November 2020.

You can find more information on the Australia Post website here, but as is always the case with this sort of thing it pays to err on the side of caution!

Covid-19 Key things to help you everyday

What’s ageism got to do with it?

The COVID-19 pandemic has unfortunately shone the spotlight on some of deep-seated ageist attitudes towards older people.

As village professionals it’s important to understand how we can offer support against this.

Next month, the DCM Institute will be running a session on this very topic with Jane Mussared, chief executive of COTA SA, and Mike Rungie, Director of the Global Centre of Modern Ageing, joining us for the discussion.

As a prelude, we recommend tuning into an upcoming session from Every AGE Counts.

In what is bound to be a great discussion between Ashton Applewhite and Jane Caro, this session will cover the impact ageism is having in today’s society and what we as age service professionals should be doing to minimise it.

The session takes place on Tuesday, November 24.

You can learn more here.

Key things to help you everyday

DCMI supporting village professionals around Australia

One of our chief aims at the DCM Institute is providing a platform that helps village professionals connect with their peers from all around Australia.

Last month, the DCMI team held our popular virtual Village Network meetings with participants from all around Australia.

There were seven in total, from Dubbo to Taree, Rockhampton to the Gold Coast, and we had participants from the ACT, Tasmania, Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria. 

These informal online meetings have proven especially valuable for village professionals in regional and remote locations.

The opportunity to network with peers, share ideas and knowledge, validate current challenges and discuss industry wide and local topics of interest is critical, but not always easy for people working in remote areas who are unable to attend bit city industry events. 

This has only been exacerbated with COVID-times.

So, we’ve been overjoyed to share our knowledge and experience with village professionals, while providing a valuable point of contact.

In this round, Sue from Dubbo said, “Since joining the DCMI program and Village Network I never feel isolated or lonely. Joining the program is one of the best decisions my employer has made.”

If you are from a regional or remote area and working as a village professional, feel free to reach out and join our next free online Village Network gathering.

You can sign up online here.

Key things to help you everyday

Managing relationships with your residents the right way – a simple guide

As village professionals we’re privileged to actively participate in the daily lives of our residents.

Building these relationships is one of the best parts of the job.

But, it’s important to remember that we are in a trusted position with our residents. In the end of the day our role in their lives is a professional one.

There must be clear professional and personal boundaries with our residents, and these need to be recognised by all staff members.

Given the nature of our work and the fact that we get to know our residents over many years, it can be challenging to manage relationships in the ‘right’ way.

So, we’ve provided a few tips as a best-practice guideline for your village.

Friendly, but not familiar

A good technique to help staff understand these relationship boundaries is defining exactly what ‘A Right Relationship’ is in your village.

Keep it simple, as a statement about behaviour that can be reinforced in meetings and training.

Here’s an example you might use:

‘We will be friendly and fair, professional and personable, always maintaining respect for everyone in our community.’

A few things you should consider:

  • Be clear with residents about our role and its limits
  • Avoid disclosing personal information
  • Understand our professional obligations and comply with relevant legislation
  • Maintain privacy, confidentiality and abide by the resident’s rules

Acknowledge each resident as an individual

It’s no secret that some residents are easier to like than others.

But we can’t let this influence our behaviour.

We must demonstrate that we treat all residents equally, and acknowledge each resident as an individual.

And residents have responsibilities too

Like anything in life, these relationships are a two-way street!

Our residents should be willing to treat staff and their fellow residents with respect. If they’re not, it’s our role to make sure these expectations and responsibilities are clear. 

The key thing is to have a plan in place.

The DCM Institute covers this topic in greater detail in our Professional Development Program.

You can find out more here.

Latest industry developments

LASA announces its Retirement Village Manager of the Year for 2020 – and three of the five finalists were members of the DCM Institute!

We love acknowledging the good work that’s going on in villages around Australia.

So we were absolutely thrilled when we learned that Lauren Jackson-Brown (pictured right) from Linton Village RSL Lifecare in Yass, New South Wales, had been named Leading Aged Service Australia’s (LASA) Retirement Village Manager of the Year 2020.

Lauren does some great work at her village, and was praised for her strong leadership skills and ability to maintain a vibrant village environment.

The five finalists were:

  1. Lauren Jackson-Brown – RSL Lifecare NSW
  2. Lean Patterson – SCC TAS
  3. Janine Thompson – Brightwater WA
  4. Sarah Mosconi – Bethanie, WA
  5. Catherine Montgomery – Cranbrook Residences, NSW

And it’s worth noting that Lauren, Janine and Sarah are part of the DCM Institute family, taking part in our professional development program in village management.

That’s three out of five finalists!

The awards are designed to recognise how diverse and dynamic our village professional roles are, and people like Lauren provide a great example for the rest of the industry.

Congratulations Lauren!

Covid-19 Key things to help you everyday

Living with the pandemic – Are you prepared for the second (or third) wave?

As some of you may already know, DCM Institute’s Judy Martin also happens to be the Chair of the Global Ageing Network (GAN).

This organisation seeks to enhance the quality of life for the ageing, connecting and supporting care and service providers around the world.

Recently, Judy was part of a worldwide discussions on lessons learned from the Global COVID pandemic so far, and how these might help us prepare for future waves.

While there were many lessons identified in the discussion, Judy believes five of these are key for the retirement living sector.

  1. The important role technology played as a communication medium
  2. The benefit of mobilising the sector together to work on solutions
  3. The interaction and division between health, aged care and social care
  4. A new spotlight on improving services for older persons
  5. How ageism impacted response strategies

The DCM Institute team has also reflected on the sort of broader pandemic measures we as village professionals should think about including in our long-term business continuity plans.

Here are a few thoughts:

  1. Embrace technology both in your workplace and in your ongoing village communications
    1. Establish a preferred app or software program that will be your go to communication aid. Use this in day to day communications.
    2. Tap into local technology grants and programs that can help support residents to develop their technology skills.
  2. Mobilise together and develop relationships and networks that will be valuable in the future
    1. Establish a local village professional working group.
    2. Establish a village working group with residents and head office.
    3. Reach out to past/retired team members to assess their ability to assist in emergency situations.
    4. Consider joining the DCMI Village network meetings.
  3. Ensure that your plan includes support to assist to deal with health crisis
    1. Reach out and establish a working relationships with your local Public Health Network and hospital.
    2. Enlist the services of an emergency healthcare specialist. 
    3. Set clear boundaries of where the village’s role starts and stops in regards to healthcare, and make sure all staff are across these.
  4. Heighten your focus on services that can be provided to residents
    1. Keep an eye out for further grants and programs that can benefit residents and sign up to community grants scheme notifications.
    2. Consider which resident services will be maintained as business as usual, and which ones will need to be ramped up as needed.

Further to this, in the Village Network meeting this week held by DCM Institute there was healthy discussion about the importance of building business practices in villages that consider and reflect the ongoing pandemic and natural disaster risks as business as usual.

Learning from the lessons of the first wave is the best way to inform our future actions, and drive the best outcomes for our residents.