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Village Manager of the Year for NSW & ACT Announced

The value of Australia’s leading professional development support organisation is shown again as the Village Manager of RetireAustralia’s Tarragal Glen Retirement Village in Erina, NSW Central Coast, Jodie Shelley, was named ACT/NSW best VM of the year.

Jodie, who is a previous finalist, is a member of the DCM Institute and thanked the program when receiving her award at the Property Council NSW’s Retirement Outlook forum on 15 February.

Jo-Anne Quinn, Village Manager of Aveo Group’s The Manors of Mosman Retirement Village, 8km northeast of Sydney’s CBD, was named National Village Manager of the Year last year.

The two previous national winners of the Village Manager of the Year Steven Daly, of Arcadia Group, and Nikki Dhawan, then employed managing Bethanie Warwick and Bethanie Joondanna retirement villages, were members of the DCM institute. Nikki is now Manager, Retirement Living at Meath Care, Perth.

Jodie, along with all State winners, is now in the running for the National title which will be announced on 27 June on the Gold Coast as part of the 2024 National Retirement Living Summit.

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Raising Awareness: The Risks with Lithium-ion Battery Failure

It was heartbreaking to read about the fire in an Adelaide retirement village last week where an 83-year old man was found dead and a woman, 81, taken to hospital.

Late, reports indicated the likely cause of the fire was a mobility scooter battery left charging overnight.

Mobility scooters are a part of retirement villages all over the country. Many of them are plugged in right now, charging, so that they are ready to assist their owner move about the community.

A common feature of these mobility scooters is their light-weight lithium-ion battery. Lithium-ion batteries are widely used since they can store a large amount of energy in a relatively small area. They are also susceptible to causing events like the one seen in Adeliade the other week with state fire departments reporting more than 450 fires caused by lithium-ion batteries in the past 18 months.

What causes lithium-ion batteries to fail?

Overheating is one of the main causes of lithium-ion battery failures, although physical damage to the battery can also lead to problems.

Excessive heat — for example from using a faulty charger and overcharging the battery, or due to a short circuit — can damage the battery cell internally and cause it to fail.

The major issue with lithium-ion batteries overheating is a phenomenon known as thermal runaway.

In this process, the excessive heat promotes the chemical reaction that makes the battery work, thus creating even more heat and ever more chemical reactions in a disastrous spiral. Physical damage to lithium-ion battery cells can allow the electrolyte inside to leak, which is another potential hazard risk.

How can people mitigate the problems with lithium-ion batteries?

Correct usage and storage of lithium-ion batteries is extremely important.

Batteries should not be exposed to high external temperatures, for example from being left in direct sunlight for long periods of time.

Overcharging is another fundamental issue as this can create excessive heat inside the battery cell.

Therefore, it is important to always use a reputable brand-name charger, rather than a cheap generic version that may be available online.

Good quality chargers, designed specifically for the battery you are using, control the amount of charge going into the cell and will cut off when it is fully charged to ensure the system does not over-heat.

Be very wary if a lithium-ion battery sustains any physical damage, such as being dropped or pierced by an object, as this can lead to leakage and potential problems.

In workplace settings, safe battery storage can be crucial so that in the event of unwanted failure, the resulting fire can be more easily contained and controlled and does not spread – which can quickly cause catastrophic consequences.

It is not advisable to purchase lithium-ion batteries second-hand, or online from unknown and potentially unregulated vendors.

What can we do?

Bring awareness. Take a commonsense approach and educate residents on the risks. There are a range of useful fact sheets and links contained in this article which can be shared easily with staff and residents.

For further information

For those interested in further reading on this subject, the ACCC released a report in October 2023 titled ‘Lithium-ion batteries and consumer product safety’.

Additional information about lithium-ion battery safety can be found by contacting your state fire department. 

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Introduction to the 1000 Club for 2023 

One of the most rewarding parts of the VILLAGE SUMMIT is recognising individual excellence of Village Professionals who have achieved the milestone of 1000 Professional Development points with DCM Institute.  

This remarkable achievement was recognised in Perth earlier this week where a handful of DCM Institute participants were awarded for their commitment to excellence. 

The awards in WA this year were presented to  

  • Ian Brockett (SCC WA),  
  • Rachel Crosby (NovaCare),  
  • Nikki Dhawan (Meath Care),  
  • Lyn Ferguson (Bethanie),  
  • Beverley Kukura (SCC WA),  
  • Ashlee McGlashan (Bethanie), and  
  • Bec Mitchell (Bethanie). 

These professionals contribute not only to their personal and professional growth, but also to elevating the standards of the Retirement Living industry. This is not merely an accolade; it’s a celebration of their dedication, passion, and the ongoing journey of learning and growth. 

DCM Institute is committed to the ongoing Professional Development of Village Professionals and welcomes these recipients to the ever growing 1000 Club.  

Congratulations to Ian, Rachel, Nikki, Lyn, Beverly, Ashlee and Bec. We look forward to recognising other participants in the DCM Institute’s program as we make our way around the country for VILLAGE SUMMIT 2023. 

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Operators and residents unite to seek reform of NSW Govt’s Asset Management Plans

The Retirement Living Council (RLC), which represents the retirement living sector, and NSW Retirement Village Residents Association (RVRA), representing more than 4,000 residents, have united to try to change the State Government’s unwieldly Asset Management Plan (AMP).

The former NSW Government delayed the introduced of the AMP by 12 months until July last year and RLC Executive Director Daniel Gannon, ahead of the NSW Election, said it had the “biggest adverse impact” on the sector this year.

Daniel and Craig Bennett, President of the RVRA, have now written to the new Minister for Better Regulation and Fair Trading, Anoulack Chanthivong, outlining “systemic problems” with the AMP.

“Key challenges of the AMPs highlight the impractical nature of the documents and the challenge faced for residents to comprehend them,” stated the letter to the Minister.

“We are united in seeking reform of the AMP laws so that residents receive information, which is transparent, useful, comprehensible and digestible.” 

The AMP documents the costs of purchase, ongoing maintenance, repairs, and replacement of a retirement village’s major items of capital, including shared major items of capital.

AssetFuture, the largest provider of Asset Management Planning solutions to NSW RV operators, has shared insights with the RLC and the RVRA on how the AMP could be presented in a more practical and easier-to-understand format for retirement village residents.

The Shadow Minister for Fair Trading, Tim James, has offered to meet with members to discuss the submission further and the Department of Fair Trading is reviewing the submission and says it is looking forward to working with the RLC and RVRA.

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DCM Institute survey: average pay for Retirement Village Managers is $96K

Independent research by the DCM Institute has found that the size of a retirement village does increase the likelihood of a Village Manager earning more money.

The average salary of a Village Manager is $96,639 according to the survey by which canvassed 186 retirement village and community managers across Australia. The pay of Village Managers in NSW and Queensland is virtually the same.

Those Village Managers working at communities with 200-plus units were paid on average, more than $33,000 more a year than a Village Manager in charge of a community with less than 80 residents.

There is very little difference in pay between the pay of Village Managers working for Not For Profits to their counterparts working at For Profits, with the For Profit Village Managers earning an extra $2,500 per year on average ($97,836 to $95,323 for NFPs).

The salary of a Village Manager in metropolitan areas is over $7,000 more than their counterparts in the regions.

But overall, only 38% of people surveyed said they were satisfied with their pay.

As the opinion piece states, the rate of pay is still below the average $110,000 wage for a property manager in Australia, which generally is less demanding.

The survey also found 24% of Village Managers indicated they did not want to be in the role in 12 months and 42% said they would not be in the position in three years.

There are 640 Village Manager positions (including maternity leave) available on, including roles at Arcadia, Aura Holdings, Eureka Group, Lendlease, Levande, MercyCare, Respect Group, Seasons and Summerset Group.

We will have more on the survey results in the Tuesday SOURCE over the next three weeks.

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Embracing Palliative Care Week: Supporting Residents, Families, and Staff

Last week was National Palliative Care Week, which aims to put “Matters of Life and Death” front and centre across Australia.

As dedicated individuals working in the retirement sector, you understand the importance of providing exceptional care to residents throughout their lives. Palliative care, especially during the end-of-life stage, plays a crucial role in ensuring comfort, dignity, and support for residents, their families, and your dedicated staff.

Today, we dive into this topic a little further and explore why it deserves our attention.

Creating a Supportive Environment:

In retirement villages, creating a supportive environment is essential for residents who require palliative care. Encourage the family to collaborate with healthcare professionals, including palliative care specialists, nurses, and counsellors, to create a comprehensive care plan for residents.

By fostering an atmosphere of compassion, collaboration, empathy, and understanding, you can help individuals and their families navigate the emotional and physical challenges that arise during this sensitive time.

Open Communication Channels:

Encouraging open and honest communication is crucial. Foster an environment where residents and their families feel comfortable discussing their concerns, fears, and desires. Regular meetings and one-on-one conversations can help establish trust and provide the necessary support.

Staff Support, Education and Training:

Invest in ongoing education and training for your staff, ensuring they have the knowledge and skills required to support residents and their families during this difficult time. Equip them with effective communication techniques, and emotional support skills.

As a Manager, you also need to be aware of how your staff might respond to palliative care occurring in your community, and provide them with access to the support they may need. An Employee Assistance Program can be quite useful when it comes to this.

Supporting Residents and Families:

Palliative care not only focuses on residents but also extends to their families, who play a vital role in the care journey.

Offer a listening ear, empathy, and access to counselling services to residents and their families. You do not need to be the counsellor, though it is recommended you be aware of support groups, bereavement services, and other resources that can help them cope with their emotions during this challenging period.

Palliative Care Week serves as a reminder that as Retirement Village Managers and Professionals there are options available to us to support residents, their families, and staff members during the end-of-life journey.

By taking the time to understand the options available to you, including fostering open communication, and providing comprehensive support, you can ensure that every resident receives the comfort, dignity, and compassion they deserve.

Just another way we can make a positive difference in the lives of those entrusted to our care.

For more information visit

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Professional Development Day Series Wraps Up

The DCM Institute recently concluded its first Professional Development Day series for 2023, leaving the prestigious Hilton Hotel in Sydney abuzz with village professionals eager to enhance their knowledge and skills.

In the words of James Wiltshire, DCM Institute’s Executive Director, “Residents want to know that their village manager is provided with the skills and knowledge required to do the job.”

The day was structured as an interactive workshop, delving into crucial topics such as asset management, resident committees, and providing a legal update from the DCM Institute’s trusted legal partners.

Kicking off the year, the DCM Institute aimed to address the topics that Village Managers had highlighted at the end of the previous year. Asset management took centre stage, as residents across the country expressed their desire for access to more detailed information.

Aidan O’Flaherty and Amanda Walker from Asset Journey led the session, exploring this critical issue from a best practice perspective. “The key is to have good information,” summarized Aidan, “so that we can make informed decisions around what to repair, what to maintain, and when to replace.”

Recognising the paramount importance of fostering strong relationships between Village Managers and residents, representatives from Residents’ Associations shared their insights nationwide.

These sessions provided an open platform for residents to voice their opinions on the role of Residents’ Committees and shed light on the challenges faced by both Village Managers and resident representatives. As one Residents’ Association representative pointed out, “While a Resident’s Committee is not a decision-making body, the goal should always be to cultivate a collaborative environment that allows the village to thrive.”

Keeping Village Managers informed about the ever-evolving legislative landscape, the DCM Institute partnered with industry leaders, including Jackson McDonald, O’Loughlin Lawyers, Minter Ellison, and Russell Kennedy. These legal experts shared state-specific updates on legislative reforms during the Professional Development Day series.

The resounding success of the Professional Development Day series was evident in the enthusiastic participation of Village Managers, industry partners, and residents alike. By consistently offering relevant and insightful professional development opportunities, the DCM Institute remains dedicated to equipping Village Managers with the necessary tools to excel in their roles.

The DCM Institute is already gearing up for the next series, scheduled to commence in late August.

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“You can’t be everything to everyone”: Uniting NSW.ACT Area Village Manager Ali Worrell

It is vitally important for a retirement village manager to encourage the residents to be as independent as they can be.

“You can’t be everything to everyone,” says Ali Worrell, who in January became Uniting NSW.ACT’s South Coast Area Manager, with responsibility for seven retirement villages from Figtree, an inner western suburb of Wollongong, to Batemans Bay, 191km south. She also became Village Manager for Cooinda Village in Batemans Bay.

“Residents will learn when to ask and when not to. Always be honest with them, never over promise,” she said.

“You build trust with your residents and once they know and understand you, you build a relationship with them.”

Ali though said it was important to know and understand the residents as they can change when something happens in their life and it is important to be able to recognise when that occurs.

“Situations occur that can floor a resident and you have to be able to spot that and try and support them,” she said.

Of course, all residents are different.

“It’s your life to live. We have residents who get in their camper van and head off for several weeks, come back, and then head off again. Then there are residents who are happiest in the village.”

Ali loves her communities and calls most of them “beautiful”.

“One resident locked themselves out at 7pm at night. I had to go to the village and let them in,” said Ali.

“The next day the resident gave me a cutting from a cactus plant and a thank you note.”

Facility Manager Key things to help you everyday Latest industry developments

Hidden suffering: Tackling grief in seniors’ living communities

In every senior’s living community, a high proportion of residents will be experiencing grief in one form or another. How can operators help residents at this challenging stage of life?

It’s an uncomfortable reality that for many residents in senior living communities, grief is a part of life.

Whether it be the loss of a partner, moving out of the family home, or the realisation they are in the final stages of their life, complex emotions will often accompany the move into a seniors’ community. Living with an older cohort also comes with challenges – residents die, which will always have ripple effect in a community.

For providers, acknowledging this truth and helping residents manage their feelings can be a way to help them live more meaningful, purposeful, and, ultimately, more joyous lives – and healthier, happier residents are good for business.


Grief is the feeling we experience when we lose something significant, says former grief counsellor Peter Wilson, who is a resident of Brisbane’s Samford Grove retirement village.

“It might be the loss of a dream, the loss of a career, the loss of a house, the loss of a community, and, of course, a death,” Peter said.


Moving into a senior’s living community can cause grief, said Peter.

“I don’t think people really understand the grief you go through when you must sell up, leave your family home, come to somewhere you don’t know, and give away all those family connections. It’s a huge loss,” said Peter, who moved to Samford Grove two years ago.

Though he is content today, the move to a retirement community triggered feelings of loss for Peter, and he could see others around him were experiencing similar emotions.

“You’ve got to start all over again making new friends – it’s really, really tough.”

Peter, who retired five years ago and is 76, said older people are also often “disenfranchised”. “Older people aren’t respected like they used to be,” he said.

As they approach the end of their lives, older people also often look back and begin to wonder about the meaning of their life.

“So, there are a lot of issues that can cause real despair,” he said.

A committed Christian, Peter spent decades working as a counsellor of various types, including roles as a nurse, grief counsellor, in the funeral industry, a crisis support worker, and eventually retraining and working as a psychologist and psychotherapist.

Having purpose and dignity are what help older people cope, Peter said.

Are providers doing enough to support residents coping with these challenging emotions and experiences?


Five Good Friends is a Queensland-based home care provider that offers concierge services bringing activities, conversations, and education into seniors’ communities.

When Give Good Friends visited Samford Grove, and began talking to Peter, together they saw an opportunity to assist residents with discussion groups around life-changing experiences.

Peter said, “I started out in 1971, and I’ve got a PhD and academic work behind me, and I’m sitting here twiddling my thumbs. I thought, well, this is crazy. It’s almost selfish because I’ve got this experience and this training and there are others out there who could benefit.

“Instead of sitting here twiddling my thumbs, doing nothing, I’d like to do something that’s of value.”

Initially the groups will be held at Samford Grove, but Peter hopes the sessions “plant a seed” and he could extend the sessions to other communities where Five Good Friends are helping.

The first discussion groups will be based on the topics of making new friends – what hinders us from reaching out to people, overcoming shyness, and so on – managing loss in life, how to start a new chapter in a new setting.


Simon Lockyer, co-founder and CEO of Five Good Friends, said moving into a seniors’ community is a major life change and can cause residents to experience a complex range of emotions – both negative and positive.

“The resident might have planned on the move, but they might also have had to move from living in the family home, they might have lost a partner, or they are moving into a community where they don’t know anyone, and for some residents the move is a signal that this is the last chapter,” said Simon.

“It’s a complete change of life,” he said.

Often when they are out talking to residents, Simon said they tell them that after their first two or three nights in the community, new residents will wake in the morning thinking, ‘What have I done?’

“But six months down the track, they’re like, ‘I wish I made this decision earlier’,” Simon said.

Acknowledging those feelings of loss and grief, and learning some strategies to cope with them, could help to make that transition easier for new residents.


Peter has one piece of advice for residents who might be suffering.

“Reach out for help. Most people don’t need professional help.

“I put it to you that 80% of people’s issues can be dealt with by a sensitive good friend – a family member or a friend – and tell your story.”

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Celebrating volunteers – the backbone of the retirement industry

Tens of thousands of people, of all ages, volunteer to contribute enormously in retirement villages and aged care homes.

The Change Makers is the theme for this year’s National Volunteer Week, 15 to 21st May, which celebrates the vital work of volunteers.

Volunteering is at the core of the care sector. Many businesses in the sector were created by volunteers. Staff time is shared amongst the clinical needs of residents, whereas a volunteer is there purely to spend quality time with residents. It’s not just the residents who reap the benefits of the volunteer experience, the volunteers themselves gain a deep sense of purpose and fulfilment from their role.

HammondCare has about 750 volunteers and it is looking for more people willing to give 1-2 hours a week for 12 months or longer in the community, in aged care homes or hospitals.

In November 2020, The Age Care Census 2020 stated there were 11,980 volunteers in residential aged care (a decline of 49% from 2016) and in retirement living, volunteers help with social activities, act as companions, and help with transportation.

Volunteering has been central to HammondCare’s Mission since the independent charity’s beginnings 90 years ago. It has launched Share Joy – Volunteer with Us campaign to find people keen to make a real difference in volunteering roles in NSW, the ACT and VIC.