We recently came across an enlightening story amongst all the crazy Covid times that we believe will delight found on Retire Australia’s website. Here is an excerpt from the story.
Glengowrie Retirement Village residents have their boarding passes ready to take in a taste of Cairo, Auckland and Athens.
No, they haven’t found a loophole in Australia’s border closures, instead Village Manager, Debbie Dean, created an around the world trip through a little bit of imagination and a lot of cardboard and crepe paper.
The Flight for Fun event transformed the village’s community centre into a boarding lounge, complete with a ‘Retire Air’ plane, offering all the perks of travel, including complimentary champagne, hot towel service and duty free.
On booking their trip, residents receive a very detailed travel pack, including a passport, travel itinerary, boarding passes, and immigration forms.
“The residents think I’m a bit crazy – but everyone has a lot of fun,” Debbie said. “These events are important to lift everyone’s spirits.”
On arrival at the community centre, residents produced their special passports and boarding passes to make it onto Retire Air.
Onboard everyone received first class treatment and experienced all the usual flight features.
I am sure there are many fantastic resident activities that have been done through Covid to keep your residents engaged and enjoying our fantastic communities.
As reported in our sister publication SATURDAY, last weekend, the pandemic and isolation has seen a buoyant sales market for many operators however the focus needs to remain on the customer relationship.
We are seeing new village customer’s as being older, now 76 to 80, compared to 10 years ago when 73 was the average age. This means a shorter time in the village and more frequent rollovers, with the integrated model of care becoming more increasingly a game changer.
Today’s customer is wanting more, so therefore with 65% of Australian villages older than 25 years, the pool of potential customers open to older stock is shrinking. Insert Community Apartment Projects (CAPS) and Land Lease villages who are targeting the younger over 55 population.
Village operators are continually having to lift their game in extra services and facilities to attract residents. Christopher Rooke, Partner and Managing Partner of One Fell Swoop comments “People are cashed up and spending more wisely, with much higher expectations around the built form and lifestyle experience”.
First Impressions are Everything
These higher prices and demand for quality product are growing higher expectations of the customer. They are demanding a more authentic and open communication approach, therefore educating prospects, throughout the sales process and right through to making their chosen village their new home is essential.
The article continues to explore how one operator in particular Village Glenfounded by Chas Jacobsen and managed by Peter Nilsson, Chief Operating Officer explains the buyer journey can take years and therefore building a long-term relationship with the new customer is key.
Peter also says “In my view the brand is the village manager and the village staff, because they are the ones who can make a difference to the resident’s life. So for that reason we have the management team involved in the sales process.”
As you all know in building these long-term relationships, you are building trust and by the time they move in feel part of the family.
In my time in the sector, I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to meet and cross paths with so many wonderful industry stalwarts, that continue to inspire my passion for the sector. Trevor Beattie, Senior Village Manager, Lendlease is just one of them who’s path I am grateful to have crossed.
This week I had the great opportunity to spend some time with Trevor as he celebrated the commencement of his 23rd year as a Village Manager.
Prior to becoming a Village Manager, Trevor was a Sargent in the Victorian Police Force for some 19 years, working in the Video Operations Unit where he was part of the Hoddle Street investigations and other Homicide Scenes. He finished his career in VicPol at the mounted police, so I asked him what made him think to be a Village Manager?
Trevor’s Journey with LendLease
He shared that he realised when his kids hit school age, he wanted to be present. By chance he had developed a great friendship with the Village Manager, Brian Robinson, at Pepper Tree Hill village where his mother-in-law lived.Brian suggested he give it a go.
So that he did. In 1998 Trevor started with Retirement by Design as Village Manager at Forrest Hill. He went onto manage Fiddlers Green Village and has now been the Village Manager at Waterford Park Village since 2012. Trevor said, since the early days of Retirement by Design, he has been part of Lendlease Retirement Living as they’ve grown to be one of the largest, and arguably one of the best, village operators in Australia.
The new landscape
I asked Trevor what he thought had changed for Village Managers since 1998 he shared “as technology has improved out of sight and safety & risk are understandably a much higher priority, we do spend more time at our desks these days. The media’s role has evolved too, it seems to have a larger influence on resident opinion and the communities view of villages”.
Trevor also shared that resident knowledge and expectations have changed with residents being made more aware of their rights and their entitlements. They ask a lot more in-depth questions, and don’t hesitate to seek further information or get advice to ensure they are well informed.
Trevor has seen the industry move from broad acre villages to high-rise, the introduction of important industry frameworks like Accreditation, and witness to the retirement of many industry characters and contributors that were key to his own learnings.
It is obvious his dedication to community and the residents is paramount when I asked him what keeps his enthusiasm for his role it was simply “to make a difference in others’ lives”.
He went onto share he thinks he is “addicted to the happiness that evolves from the resident community”. “It’s the fun times I look forward to – the functions with Elvis impersonators, singing, line dancing and the good old fashion fun we have as a community”. There is also the annual Commemorative Anzac Day Service which the residents cherish being a part of.
Trevor shared how his family have been on this journey with him from the age of 6 his children have joined in community events. For the past 3 years his son an ex-serviceman has participated in the Anzac service at the village.
Trevor’s Advice for the future Village Managers
He went on to share that he also believes it is important to be an active participant of the industry. Whether it is by:
Attending industry events
Maintaining a strong peer network to remind you of where you’ve come from, reminisce with and to be inspired by
Becoming an accreditation surveyor
Keeping abreast of industry activity or having the opportunity to mentor others
All of the above has been important to stay engaged with the wider industry.
I had to ask him if he had any advice for new village managers….
Acknowledge the experience of residents – if I have 255 residents at an average age of 84yrs old that is 21,420 years of experience I can tap into!
You can keep some of the people happy some of the time but not all of the people happy all of the time! And that is OK.
In our wrap up I jokingly asked Trevor, or Fossil as he is warmly known by his team, would you ever live in a village (I know I would)…
And with the biggest smile he said, “well, Jodie, I will be. Pam & I have just put a deposit on a beautiful new home to be built at St Johns Rise by Benetas, just 20 minutes from the village”.
And with that I knew instantly why Trevor & I had bonded so quickly!
Our true joint love & belief in the benefits of community and long-term passion for the industry!
Consultation is something most of the Retirement Village Acts around the country refer to as being a useful practice to achieve change.
However, in my experience the consultation process can be an area of misunderstanding and even result in disputes between operators and residents.
In a recent newsletter put out by Office of Ageing Well – SA they shared some great considerations around consultation, included below.
“Consultation in its most basic meaning is the act or process of formally discussing something. Discussion means the act or process of talking about something in order to exchange ideas”.
It is worth noting consultation, as an act, does not have the same meaning as an announcement (a public statement of fact, occurrence or intention) nor is it a negotiation (a discussion aimed at reaching an agreement).
Keeping residents fully informed about what is happening in the village and providing opportunities for them to provide feedback and ask questions is vital to creating trust, preventing misunderstandings or disputes, and creating a harmonious community.
Why is Good Consultation Important in Villages?
Good consultation practices include three main areas:
Making residents aware of the matter that is being discussed
They are given a proper opportunity to express their views
That these views are taken into consideration when a decision is made
It is recommended that the matter which residents are being consulted about, is provided in writing prior to a discussion, so as to allow residents to consider and discuss the proposal with each other and family members.
It can also be useful to follow up written consultation with individual/s and/or group meetings to allow residents to discuss options, ask questions or to clarify any issues which may be causing confusion.
Office of Ageing Well also provided some great tips below, they suggest you do for improving consultation practices. These are all ones I can fully endorse. You may want to consider including these activities in your annual consultation plan to do several times a year.
Improve the level of resident satisfaction, by increasing the number of opportunities provided for residents to have their say
Make consultation a habit
Keep in touch with your residents on a regular basis
Aim for dedicated Q&A sessions on a regular, planned basis
Embrace positive and negative feedback—you will learn from it. Don’t ignore feedback or dodge complaints.
Find out what aspects of life in the village are most important to the residents and then measure how well these are achieved
Consult before making changes and before any decision is finalised, otherwise it is not consultation, merely information provision
Very early on in my career in this sector I learnt the importance of regular, transparent, honest and two-way communication.
I always tried to recognise the community is the residents’ home and therefore they should have the opportunity to input into how their community is being shaped.
For the second successive year land lease community, rental village and tourism park operator Ingenia Communitieshas ranked second in the 2021 Chief Executive Women (CEW) Senior Executive Census for companies listed on the Stock Exchange.
For the second successive year land lease community, rental village and tourism park operator Ingenia Communities has ranked second in the 2021 Chief Executive Women (CEW) Senior Executive Census for companies listed on the Stock Exchange.
The census, which tracks gender balance and female representation of Australia’s largest publicly listed companies.
“Women compromise more than one-third of our Company Board and two-thirds of our executive leadership team,” said Ingenia CEO Simon Owen. “Our experience is that it is in every company’s best interest to ensure diversity both in representation and in ideas and thinking – it can have a significant impact on your ability to innovate and grow, and ultimately your bottom line.”
The push to acquire and nurture female talent in Ingenia comes from a top-down approach led by retirement village veteran and Ingenia Chairman Jim Hazel, who for many years has mentored prospective female directors through the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD).
Ingenia Chief Investment Officer and General Counsel, Natalie Kwok (pictured above), is one executive who was developed through internal channels.
“The company has always taken a merit and capability-based approach. I am really grateful for the fact that I was not pigeonholed in one field – with Ingenia if you are good at your role, you get opportunities to grow and succeed,” she said.
This is also great news for Village Professionals to grow with an industry that recognises executive talent and supports a clearly defined career path. The DCM Institute is the perfect vehicle in taking those first steps, on an evolving professional development journey.
Many also feel locked out or in the dark, like digital social engagement, connection, belonging, learning and entertainment.
There is email, SMS, messenger groups, event registrations, Facebook pages, etc…
Once upon a time a phone was just used to call people!
A little help and knowledge can go a long way and, in my experience, programs delivered by third party providers, also go a long way to helping village professionals move their communities into the digital age.
YourLink can bring digital education to your village
This is where YourLinkcan assist and a great service I have used for residents in the past.
I recommend you contact the team at Your Linkif you are wanting assistance for your residents with the digital age. Some of the areas they provide are:
Bespoke digital coaching (1 to 1)
Employee/volunteer/carer digital literacy so they are able to assist others
Seniors’ digital literacy in groups (virtual or face to face)
Hearing & technology training events
Investigation of grant funded digital literacy solutions
Co-design digital literacy programs
Results of these programs show clear increase in digital confidence and participation.
With the average Australian spending 88 hours per month online, it should be no surprise to find that one of the biggest cohorts using social media is the baby boomer.
Research shows, the baby boomer is primarily infatuated with Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest.
Recent data fromIAB Australia indicates that during COVID lockdowns, digital news consumption increased over 38%. While digital consumption of real estate related content, increased by 44% in the last 12 months.
These facts should leave you with no doubt, that a village social media presence must be part of your village marketing strategies moving forward.
Don’t sell. Educate first
Whilst there is a temptation to sell, sell, sell that no matter the platform used, when it comes to marketing, the professionals warn of this strategy on social media.
Judi Carr, Director, Content Republic, shared with DCM Institute members at this month’s webinar the golden rule of social media marketing is to EDUCATE first & SELL second.
She explained the role of social media should be primarily to increase brand awareness and develop trust in your brand. It is only then, you have the opportunity for the audience to engage with your brand and then, you have the opportunity to sell to your audience.
Around the country this month, we heard the biggest road block to successful social media strategies, is the need for the ongoing development of content.
How to create social media content
Judi had a great recommendation when starting to build content and to follow a create, curate and syndicate approach. This is best explained as:
Create – create original posts
Curate – add some commentary to others posts, relevant to your audience
Syndicate – simply share others posts that add value to your audiences’ interests
Creating content doesn’t need to be difficult. Some easy methods in helping contribute to your marketing teams content plan is to adopt the following:
Always be on hand with a camera to capture those great resident moments around your village. Don’t forget to share these with the person managing your social media
More stories of engagement in your community shows it’s a happy place to be
Develop a social media resident sub-committee and have the residents share their ideas and capture content
Add it to your team meeting agendas to share anecdotes and ideas
Consider having the team repurpose existing content (from websites, brochures, newsletters & videos)
A couple of other golden rules when you are starting out on the social media journey:
Be consistent; and
Ensure that all interactions are in line with your communities positioning and values.
You may even want to suggest if resource is a factor, to consider outsourcing to a professional like Content Republic to build your strategy and content
If your keen to know more, this month’s webinar is now available in our Knowledge Centre.
The transition from independent living to aged care can be a difficult and uncertain time in your residents’ life. You will be faced with many questions from their family and friends as well as the residents themselves:
Mum isn’t coping on her own – what can be done to help?
Judy hasn’t come to any activities for quite some time – is she ok?
Asking the village team to help with the shopping
Other residents’ concerns
Your own observations
Guilt, fear and time stress are the prevailing emotions.
As the Village Manager, you will be faced to having those hard conversations and, in some cases, dealing with.
Our sister DCM web site agedcare101.com.au is designed to educate and support all people about the late ageing journey.
One of the things we like most is this video, which explains the feeling of guilt, the time it takes to set up residential care and the essential Nine Steps. It’s called ‘Precious Time’.
Check it out and let your people know it is there. Over 60,000 people visit agedcare101.com.au every moth.
Workforce supply is increasingly difficult across the country, but as our sister publicationSATURDAYexplored in its last issue, the retirement Village Manager is proving to be of the hardest to secure.
It can take up to three years for a Village Professional to feel fully in control of their role and understanding of the village business that they manage.
So when a Village Manager leaves the sector, they are taking with them a head full of knowledge and experience.
51% of VMs leave within three years
This is a significant challenge when you consider that there are just 1,500 Village Managers across the country and research commissioned by DCM with KPMG (2019) found that 51% of Managers leave the sector within three years.
One operator last week said over 50% of their village managers have now been in the job for less than two years.
The SATURDAY editors found that to replace this skill drain, operators are recruiting younger Managers.
Paul Burkett (photographed), the Director and CEO of Baldwin Care Group, said he has had two village managers retire in the past 12 months to be replaced by younger managers in their 30s.
They need to be fast tracked in their knowledge and supported with tools and training.
Paul has two new Village Managers taking part in the DCMI program and says he is seeing the difference that it is making to their confidence. “They realise that they’re not Robinson Crusoe and there’s other people sharing the same problems,” he said.
Pay is a challenge recruiting the new, younger generation of Managers. The average Village Manager salary is still around $80,000 despite the responsibilities being equivalent to that of a hotel manager.
Paul pays above scale and offers yearly bonuses based on KPIs around accreditation, meeting regulations, guest surveys, sales and more. He says training and networking opportunities are also critical.
Maintenance roles are also proving difficult to fill as the retiring builders and tradespeople in these roles are also departing, while home care workers are hard to source due to lockdowns and resignations.
COVID-19 has made the challenge of retaining and attracting staff even harder, while residents can be demanding that staff are fully vaccinated, which is also a challenge.
Paul says he has lost some staff recently because they did not want to be vaccinated.
How then to appeal to the new generation?
What is the take-out? Demand far exceeds supply of professional Village Managers and Management.
With villages emerging as one of the big answers to the Royal Commission goal of more people on Home Care, living independently, aged care operators are moving to develop new and bigger villages, especially vertical villages. This is increasing demand even further for Professional Management.
More regulations, audits and increasing board responsibility for standards being met (plus concerns about insurance) are driving operators to invest in Professional Development – and remuneration reviews.
The question then is: will the new Baby Boomer customer/resident be prepared to pay more for a higher standard of Village Management – and are village operators ready to invest in their human capital?
You can read the full version of the SATURDAY village Workforce article HERE.
Often when considering emergency planning in villages there is a tendency to focus on fire, and in particular bushfire.
How would your village, and importantly your residents, respond to any of the following events?
Gunman on site
Live electrical wires
A sewer flooded your village; or
Natural disaster that may leave your community without power, water or phone access
In my time in villages, I have had to deal with ALL of these emergency situations, and often remotely. So, I have learnt the importance of having robust and regularly reviewed emergency plans in place that go far beyond having an evacuation diagram on the wall in the community centre.
Easy ‘must do’s’
It is not hard to prepare the basics of an Emergency Plan, and you will feel so much better when you have built the bones because you now will not be caught out at a time of stress.
Ideally your Emergency Plan should address:
Emergency contact details for key people who have specific roles or responsibilities under the Emergency Plan, for example fire wardens, & staff
Contact details for local emergency services
A process for alerting residents, for example a siren, whistles, telephone calls and door knocking
Evacuation procedures including arrangements for assisting any hearing, vision or mobility residents
A map of the village illustrating the location of fire protection equipment, emergency exits, assembly points
Triggers and processes for advising neighbours who may need to respond as well
A post-incident follow-up process, for example notifying the regulator, organising trauma counselling or medical treatment
What should be in and where should an emergency steel box be located with high vis vests, torches, battery operated radio, first aid kit, manuals, instructions, updated resident phone list, etc and where should it be located?
After the emergency
In my experience you should also consider adding information that addresses:
What is the process to communicate with residents it is OK to come back to the Village?
What plans need to be actioned in the event the power, phone or water is to be cut off for days?
What is the relocation process in the event the home or homes are not habitable or accessible?
WH&S, legislation, ARVAS and insurance
Having an Emergency Plan, engaging with it and reviewing it is not only a Work Health & Safety requirement for your employees, it is also a new requirement of theNSW Retirement Villages Actand a requirement of the ARVAS scheme.
It may also be a requirement or expectation of some insurance policies and of course would be seen as sound governance and risk management by your Board.
If you have not started this process, I would recommend you engage with an industry professional such as ESGA or First 5 Minutes, who both presented at our September Professional Development workshops.
They are not only familiar with the requirements of emergency plans but also the idiosyncrasies of Retirement Villages.
However, if you would like to get a head start or review your current plan perhaps use this great emergency plan fact sheet tool checklist from Safework Australia as a guide.
Emergency Planning is a topic in our September PD days. Keep an eye out for the recording of our recent webinar in the DCMI Knowledge Centre, available at the end of the month.