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Covid-19 Facility Manager Village Operator

The reality of Omicron

We have heard from many of you over the break your experiences of interrupted breaks, long hours whilst you support an increase in COVID positive residents within your communities and the struggle to keep up with rapidly changing restrictions.

Some of you have been seconded into other parts of your organisations to provide much needed assistance, and many of you expressed feeling exhausted and burnt out riding the Omicron wave.

One of the common queries has been how to navigate the expectations of residents and the divide the Omicron variant is creating within your communities.

Many of you sharing where residents are not adhering or have a differing view of the current restriction requirements, or want to challenge your every communication or action, even if it has been undertaken with good intent for the whole community.

https://www.theweeklysource.com.au/bolton-clarke-wants-to-increase-height-of-its-26-storey-high-tower-on-qlds-gold-coast/

Another big challenge has been where residents are divided in their view of the seriousness or impact of the Omicron variant on the population within your retirement communities. I.e. half are wanting a cautious approach to visitors and events within the village and the others are wanting these activities to go on as normal.

I acknowledge it is a battlefield that is causing much burnout and exhaustion amongst many of you.

Omicron Village Manager checklist

In terms of coping with this and keeping an even keel during these times I thought I would offer the following considerations when dealing with these challenging situations:

  • ensure you have a good understanding of the village requirements and your organisations position on the current restriction guidelines; there are going to be many opinions/interpretations of the restrictions amongst residents
     
  • It is a good idea to seek legal advice as an organisation if you are considering guidelines over and above the restriction guidelines
     
  • It is OK to reinforce to residents challenging your actions or information that you are acting with the best knowledge and information you have at the time
     
  • It is also OK to remind resident that you are acting with good intent on behalf of all of the residents and explain whilst some would want full lockdown of everything, and at the other end they would like everything open, your role is to ensure the village operates within the restriction and your organisation’s guidelines
     
  • It is a good idea to detach any personal bias of what residents should or shouldn’t be doing (many of us are being more cautious than our residents)
     
  • Remember your role is to ensure that the village is operating in accordance with the restrictions and your COVID plans, primarily informing and influencing residents to accept the restriction requirements
     
  • If you have serious non-compliance or breach issues seek legal advice

Above all, know that you are not alone dealing with these issues and that your peers in the village down the road, in the next suburb and next state are dealing with the same issues. 

Perhaps if you can arrange a coffee/in person or virtually with a couple of Village professionals in your team or suburb to share strategies and coping mechanisms through this particularly isolating time.

Importantly, please remember you continue to play a vital and outstanding role keeping large, sometimes very vulnerable, retirement communities safe and informed. 

Thank you for your continued effort, especially on those days where you are not sure you can face it again.

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Facility Manager Key things to help you everyday

Leading the way… some light reading over Christmas

Leadership is a word easily thrown around, but understanding it and doing it is not always easy or natural. Sometimes it is great to just get a few reminder pointers.

At our VILLAGE SUMMITS, internationally renowned leadership speaker, Matt Church (above), gave some great insights.

Our own DCM Institute Leadership Coach, Jacqui Perkins, explored courageous leadership and dared us to step into our own power as a leader.

So, are we a Manager or a Leader? Most of us are both.

Managing a retirement community is a complex one and while we are generally seen as the ‘Village Manager’, we must also recognise our role as the ‘Leader’ of the Village Community.

There are lots of models, strategies, tactics, approaches and opinions about how to become an effective and successful leader. We read a lot of books on Leadership; here is a top list assembled by Tania: 

Or check out Matt or Jacqui’s websites.

By understanding and enacting the principles of good leadership and combining them with effective management practices, we can grow our teams, achieve our organisation’s goals and better engage residents, all to the benefit of our village community….

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Facility Manager Key things to help you everyday Village Operator

Diversity and Inclusion requires Belonging to be effective for all residents

Why is diversity an objective in retirement communities?

In essence, a commitment to diversity within your village is an acknowledgement of the benefits that having a wide variety of people, heritages, ideas and experiences can offer in building a vibrant community!

Australia has one of the most diverse older populations in the world, with a significant proportion of the Australian seniors community identifying as:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
     
  • Culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD)
     
  • Veterans of the Australian Defence Force or an allied defence force (or the spouse, widow or widower of a veteran)
     
  • LGBTIQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/gender diverse, intersex and queer)
     
  • Disabled or living with a significant health concern

So, while we often talk about ‘Diversity’, do we really understand its importance to our staff and our village communities?

Firstly, it is important to recognise that diversity cannot work without inclusion, and that ‘diversity and inclusion’ cannot be sustained without belonging.

In simple terms:

Diversity is the characteristics that make people unique. 

Inclusion is the behaviours and community norms that make people feel welcome.

Belonging is an individual’s sense of acceptance by others.

How can Village Professionals promote Diversity?

What are some of the activities village professionals can do to establish and promote Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging in the workplace and within village communities?

Having a conscious approach to support the diverse nature of residents living in your village is vital to operational planning, resident satisfaction and service delivery within your community.

Recognise and consider inclusive activities, which increase in importance as people age and face the possibility of isolation.

Ensure that older Australians remain valued and have the same access to opportunities whatever their differences.

Establish inclusive practices as part of everyday operational activities, whether it is at meetings, operational planning, or as part of project considerations within the village community. 

Additionally, you can:

  • Provide activities that appeal to diverse groups
     
  • Conduct regular education/reminders to village teams about diversity
     
  • Address and discourage others’ bias toward ageing
     
  • Hold open conversations across the entire village (not just with a select few)
     
  • Include stories, recipes & information in newsletters that represent the diversity of the village community
     
  • Ask residents what they would like to share about their heritage, lifestyle or background
     
  • Ensure diversity activities are an agenda item on team and resident meetings

A quick quote from Jesse Jackson:

“When everyone is included, everyone wins.”

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Facility Manager Key things to help you everyday Village Operator

Community engagement includes engaging with residents

I’ve talked previously about the changing characteristics of this next generation, the Baby Boomer. They are now rapidly taking up occupancy in our villages. 

Just like they have done in every aspect of their journey, Boomers are displaying traits and behaviours that call for new consultation and communication models.   

One of the best examples of why we should consult with residents is the video above left by Becky Hirst. In it, she explained she knows nothing about road construction – but she knows everything about the road she lives on, because she walks and drives it every day and night.

Watch it HERE and it will give you a smile. It may cause you to rethink resident consultation as well.

www.fortheloveofcommunityengagement.com

Becky has been speaking at our VILLAGE SUMMIT events around the country on the building steps and importance of Community Engagement.

If you are interested in finding out more about Becky, she has recently written published her book, For the Love of Community Engagement.

Find out more here – www.fortheloveofcommunityengagement.com

Wanted and expected? Yes and yes   

The activity we have already seen over the last 5 years, with the activation of the residents’ associations across the country, indicates strongly to me that residents want to – and expect to – be engaged in dialogue where decisions that may impact or affect their futures and lifestyles are occurring.  

The next time you’re making a decision, perhaps think a little bit more broadly about who the decision might impact or affect – and importantly, who else might be able to contribute valuable insight.  

Next time you are preparing to make a significant decision on behalf of your residents, consider how you might be able to come alongside your community and engage at a deeper level to gain a broader perspective from those impacted or affected.  

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Facility Manager Things to watch Village Operator

The CEO focus on team culture and ‘high performance’

Team Culture and leadership is now more important than ever before to deliver a great working environment, which incidentally greatly supports staff retention.  This incidentally includes retention of village management, with vacancies at an all-time high.

In last week’s issue of SATURDAY, our editor Lauren Broomham talked with RetireAustralia’s CEO Dr. Brett Robinson on their success of zero turnover of their village managers in the last 18 months across their 28 villages.

Brett explains, their focus on training and development – and the group’s strong team culture – has been critical to staff retention and delivering best outcomes for residents.

Rugby High Performance Leader

A relatively new CEO to the sector, Brett is a former international rugby player for the Wallabies, which he followed up with heading the Australian Rugby Union’s High-Performance unit.

Brett also trained as a doctor and has spent much of his life working with the private sector including Mondial Assistance, Cancer Care and Bank of Queensland.

He recognises the Village Manager is the most important person in the business.  It is also criticalto identify the right person with the right capabilities and skills, and then to heavily invest in them and their training.  To this end it is no surprise – Retire Australia have recently signed up all their team to the DCM Institute.

It’s a front-line that delivers

Brett tells us when he worked in cancer care, the cancer nurses were the organisation’s greatest asset, because they genuinely cared about the patients and their families.  He sees this as very similar to what we do in our sector, where people join villages seeking a caring and supporting community.

He does note that this is not always easy for small to medium businesses as there is a significant cost in this investment. However, the payoff is huge in terms of staff retention and satisfaction.

To read the full and fascinating story – please click HERE.

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Facility Manager

Trevor Beattie: Resident Happiness is my job satisfaction

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.

https://thedcminstitute.com.au/industry-news

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.

https://thedcminstitute.com.au/industry-news

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!

Categories
Facility Manager Jobs

Keeping good people and your workplace

In a time when the new talent pool is shallow, attracting great staff and retaining them is vital.

We recently reported in our SATURDAY digital magazine that there were over 170 Village Manager roles available on seek in the week prior. 

With approximately 1500 Village Managers in Australia, this is over 10% of all roles are currently vacant. In my experience this is around the highest number of vacancies I have seen in my career.   

As you would know, gone are the days of the ‘set and forget’ employee.  In a recent seek.com.au survey of over 4,800 potential candidates the results showed that employees are looking for:  

  • Engagement – employees want to be engaged in their work to thrive
     
  • Relationships – 1 in 2 felt collegiate peer relationships have become more important 
     
  • Meaning and purpose – Organisations should show how their work benefits society, or how the organisation supports causes in the wider community
     
  • Support with goals – Importance of understanding employees’ personal goals and ability to create a clear career direction, so new recruits can understand that they can have the opportunity of a career for life with your organisation
     
  • Sense of achievement - Employees want to know that what they’re doing is making an impact
     
  • True flexibility - Having choice over start and finish times is important to a lot of candidates  
     
  • Trust - Explain that you want to create a culture of trust and show how you’ve built that in the past
     
  • Mental health support - 2 in 5 candidates say they would have liked more mental health support during COVID-19 
     
  • Ongoing learning - Humans are hardwired to learn and grow and stretch ourselves 

Do these resonate with you?

Retaining key team members is fast becoming a key business pillar across Retirement Villages, Aged Care, Home Care, Health and Human Services here in Australia.