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.”

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.

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 –

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.  

Village Operator What the research tells us

Food is hard to deliver – or is it with new technology

Historically retirement villages have not engaged in food service because residents are independent, meaning they can prepare their own meals in their own home.

For operators and management, it has also been a high risk and high cost adventure to test if residents want meals prepared for them.

But all this is changing, as marketers see food as a differentiator and a way of creating community. And residents are increasingly expecting meals to be available on demand, just like they do at home through Uber Eats!

The major reason to think about food is nutrition. Poor nutrition, the balance between volume and nutrients the food selected to eat, is the fastest route to physical decline in the aged.

New services, new technologies

In a recent edition of SATURDAY, our editor Lauren Broomham reported on a number of services and technologies now available.  Some of these included ‘Digital plates’ that scan resident’s meals before and after and identifies food intake and nutrition, cashless apps and more you will want to know about. 

We have selected a few that you can give you an insight into the future of food.

Meals on demand

Many operators throughout lockdowns have utilised these services for their residents. 

They are also a great option for someone recovering from a stay in hospital who is unable to get out and about or just pure convenience.

Some of the new and established entrants include:

  • TLC Meals is a service for discharged hospital patients and delivers a range of frozen, nutritious meals to clients, catering for a range of dietary and medical requirements.
  • Lite n’ Easy has developed a range specifically for the elderly. They have partnered with a number of Home Care package providers to deliver meals to older Australians and has over 100 meals to choose from subsidised by up to 70% of the resident’s Home Care Package (HCP).
  • SPC is the well-known Australian food company. It has announced it’s move into a nutritional healthcare company for older people in residential care and at home. They already have produced their ProVital brand which specialises in fruit-based snacks and beverages and home delivered meals under the Good Meal brand. They are now focusing on offering food products easy to open for people suffering from arthritis.

Outsourced food management

  • CBORD – an American food technology company that specialises in retirement communities universities and hospitals, has created a whole digital front and back end for food management and nutrition. It scans every plate before a meal is eaten and afterwards with the remaining scraps and calculates the nutrition intake of the resident, and that’s just the start. Many Australian hospitals and some aged care operators and are using CBORD.
  • Compass Group Australia, Senior Living – a catering and hospitality services business that offers a full suite of support services to the senior living and healthcare sector from gardening to reception services, and now they will operate your food service for you.

Click HERE to read the full article.

Key things to help you everyday Village Operator

What to know – and remember – for successful Financial Management

As you only too well know, Financial Management plays a critical role for all Village Managers and Operators, and how the decisions made can affect your residents.

For those of you that are Members of the DCM Institute program, you may have completed this topic and know what I am talking about.  However, with the New Year looming we thought it was a great opportunity to share some tips.  And now may be a good time to do a refresher of this topic in the Knowledge Centre.

Legislation Requirements

The Retirement Villages Act and associated Retirement Villages Regulations specify an operator’s obligations in relation to the financial management of retirement villages.

While we are not required to be accountants, we should know enough about the village financial matters to be able to understand the workings of the budgets and accounts.

By engaging and working with your finance department, qualified accountants and auditors, you will be able to confidently present sound budgets and accurate financial statements for the village.

We must also abide by the more general legislative local, State and Commonwealth obligations for relevant levies, rates, taxes and other legal responsibilities.

In the legislation are details the operator’s obligations related to:

  • The financial information provided to residents
  • How village funds can be collected, accrued and utilised
  • Where and for what purpose funds can be expended
  • Inclusions / exclusions of items specific to a fund type (capital, recurrent, general)
  • Reporting of the village’s income and expenditure
  • The timing, format of and processes to consult with and present to residents
  • The process for managing any finance related dispute
  • Disclosure statements and independent auditing
  • Resident incoming contributions and exit entitlements

It is a great idea to keep a copy of your relevant RV Act and regulations at hand for quick reference, (hard copy or internet booked marked).

Common Village Practices

Village Budgets

A budget is simply a way of thinking ahead financially.

The Village budget represents the expenses you expect to incur and the income you propose to receive during the 12 month forecast period; it is a statement of anticipated income and expenditure.  A well-prepared budget will determine whether your income is likely to exceed your expenditure, and if so by how much.

When preparing the Village budget, we should undertake a process of review and verification to ensure budget data and inputs are accurate and have a sound basis for inclusion.

Refer to the Budget Planning Guide in the DCMI Portal to assist with your budget planning process.

Village Funds

The Financial Management of a village includes the way an operator manages the funds of the village.

This extends to a legislative prescribed regime for the classification of and responsibility for, expenditure relating to all village related funds.

Compliance with the Retirement Villages legislation for your state is imperative, as its adherence to any related terms of each resident’s contract.

The following gives a general overview of the types of funds that are prescribedPlease note the name and obligations of these funds may vary from state to state.

Each Village generally has 3 funds

  • A capital replacement fund for replacing the village’s capital items
  • A maintenance reserve fund for maintaining and repairing the village’s capital items
  • A general services charges fund for the cost of services that are supplied or made available to all residents of a retirement village

General Services / Recurrent Charges

Residents collectively fund general services via general services charges; however, the operator pays general services charges (or part) for unsold units and vacated units

General services is defined as ‘services supplied, or made available, to all residents of a retirement village’

  • Providing, operating and managing the community facilities
  • Gardening and landscaping
  • Managing security at the village
  • Maintaining an emergency help system and safety equipment
  • Cleaning, maintenance and repairs of and to the community facilities
  • Administration’ and or ‘Management’ costs

The Act also regulates the charging of general services to a resident after the resident has vacated. 

An Operator may reduce the period a resident is required to pay the charge but is not able to compel a resident to pay this charge beyond the prescribed period.

Maintenance Reserve Fund (MRF)

This fund provides for the ongoing maintenance and repair of the village’s capital items.

The income into this fund is generally derived as a monthly contribution from the General Services Fund.

Capital Fund

The treatment of Capital items can vary from state to state and also with different resident contracts.  In general Capital items are:

  • The buildings and structures located in the retirement village and owned by the operator, including the communal facilities, amenities and accommodation units,
  • But are not items that, under the residence contract, are to be maintained, repaired and replaced by the resident.

Where required by legislation and/or to achieve best practice, a Quantity Surveyor’s report should be updated or completed to identify the minimum requirements an operator has in relation to the Capital Fund.

The Quantity Surveyor report would then provide the basis for the Capital Fund expenditure for that year.

Capital expenditure items would include the cost of:

  • The Quantity Surveyor report
  • The provision/replacement of all initial/ongoing capital items
  • Building & structural expenditure
  • Plant & equipment
  • Communal hot water
  • Air-conditioning
  • Community facility furnishings
  • Vehicles
  • Roads/paths
  • Drainage/sewer
  • Initial landscaping
  • Electrical distribution systems

Additional financial management considerations may include:

Personal Services

  • Defined as ‘optional services supplied or made available for the benefit, care or enjoyment of a resident of a retirement village’ (e.g. laundry, meals, cleaning)
  • Payable personally by those residents who receive the services
  • Amounts charged, and increases in charges, that are not regulated by the RV Act – purely contractual.  The operator can include a profit component
  • Where a service is not supplied or made available to all residents of the village, then it is a personal service

Special Levy

A special levy is a fee which a resident is required to pay for an unforeseen expense of the retirement village. The special levy is generally applied with the consent of residents through a special resolution.

Surplus and Deficits Policy

All villages should have a Policy, compliant with legislation, which clearly defines how any surplus or deficit in the operating budget will be treated.

Marketing costs

The cost for sales and marketing, related to the remarketing of units and also the general sales and marketing of the village, must abide by legislation.

Vacating and Re-sale related costs (including refurbishment)

There may be costs to make good, refit or refurbish the unit when a resident vacates their unit and the residence is then put on the market as a “re-sale”.

The costs, by whom they will be paid and how they are treated are represented in the resident contract and defined in legislation.

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.

Key things to help you everyday Village Operator

Resident conversations: stepping out of our own perspective

As busy village professionals our days are filled with many different conversations from the polite ‘good mornings, lovely day’ through to more serious conversations about troubling issues or resident concerns.  

Many of these conversations will ultimately require a solution. So, it is easy when we are busy to slip automatically into solution mode, thinking we will need to be able to have the answer to every problem, or situation that arises. 

With that, we tend to fall into the habit of listening to respond or resolve.  However, often this has the reverse effect, leaving the person sharing their issue or concern feeling like they haven’t been heard.  

In my experience, effective listening is one of the most critical skills needed when managing complex conversations. 

In today’s fast paced world, people in general are craving to be heard and sometimes it is just the process of feeling heard that will be enough to resolve a concern.  

Listening Strategies

Over the years I have gathered a long line of suggestions as I strive to be a better listener; here are the obvious ones:

  • Focus and pay attention 
  • Maintaining eye contact  
  • Be present, remove distractions where possible 
  • Being conscious of body language, lean into the conversation  
  • Let the person complete their sharing before responding  
  • Reconfirm your understanding of the conversation details 

Then there are the ones I like to remind myself of when dealing with difficult conversations:

  • Know that I don’t have to have all the answers
  • Listen to understand, not to respond 
  • Ask questions to gain a more detailed explanation 
  • Listen with the pursuit of understanding  
  • Step out of your own perspective  

It is this last step that can often be the hardest.  To be able to step away and see a situation from someone else’s perspective is a real skill.  

We all develop our understanding, based on our own lived experiences and knowledge to date.  Without the willingness to listen, to understand and consider another person’s perspective, it is often very hard to reach a ‘win: win’ conclusion.   

Simon Sinek a leading public speaker and optimist with many videos on YouTube and a number of TED talks, reinforces these ideas further in his video Be The Last to Speak

Click here to view the video, which I am sure you will all resonate with.
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Building trust with the new customer remains key

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 Glen founded 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.

To read the full article please click here.
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Getting consultation right is vital in building happy communities

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.   

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Women Leadership Roles on the Rise in the RV Sector

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.

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.

Key things to help you everyday Village Operator

Helping your Residents & Families understand the transition to aged care

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
  • Difficult behaviours
  • 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 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 every moth.