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Key things to help you everyday

Your Regulator is there to help!

Regulators of Retirement Villages around the country have been adding to their resource base to assist residents and operators.

These websites are a great place to visit if you are looking for directions, guidelines or resources in relation to a particular matter.

Some jurisdictions also have helpful fact sheets, checklists or calculators to help prospective residents through the sales process.

The NSW regulator page has information on proposed changes to legislation, guidelines and resources for Moving into a Village, Living in a Village and Leaving a Village as well as some supporting information about COVID requirements and guidelines.

The Queensland regulator page walks operators through everything you need to know about running a village from registering to documents and contracts for residents.

The ACT regulator page has comprehensive information about the day to day operations of a retirement village and a great list of contacts for village professionals.

The WA regulator page also has useful information for retirement village operators, as well as publications for prospective clients and residents.

The Victoria regulator page has information for prospective residents about Choosing a Village, Living in a Village, Leaving a Village and the Fees and Charges applicable.

The SA regulator page has information for prospective residents and some great fact sheets, legislative information and documents that can help operators improve their processes.

The Tasmanian regulator page gives some clarity around what classes as a retirement village, operator contract requirements, leaving a village and disputes. 

When you’re looking for an answer to a question you are unsure of, these resources are a great place to start. You can check the legislation, resident contracts, organisational policy, or even call through to the regulator for a definitive answer or advice.

Be sure to save the URL for your regulator and legislation in your favourites bar. If you ever need a quick link you can find this information on the DCMI Industry Links page. 

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Covid-19 Key things to help you everyday

Take a deep breath – Time to focus on team and self-care.

I speak to many village professionals on a weekly basis and in recent weeks I’ve picked up a change in tone from panic to calm, to a sense of weariness.

After months of changed working environments, having to adapt and adapt again and continually stretching both personal resources and finances village teams are becoming weary.  

A conscious understanding of how you and your team are responding to this crisis/pandemic is vital. 

As my great colleague at Human Psychology Samantha Young most recently shared, “We all respond differently to crisis. Some of us switch into ‘action’ mode and become more transactional in how we interact with others. Some of us go quiet and withdraw.”

So how can you be supporting your team and importantly yourselves amidst this ongoing uncertainty?

Samantha offered the following options that focus on the basic human needs of fulfillment, belonging and security.

Make your community a safe place to work

Are your employees concerned about the cleanliness of the environment they are working in?

Make sure you have appropriate reminders and resources to reinforce guidelines around cough/sneeze etiquette (into a tissue or elbow), social distancing reminders, hand washing practices, and staff not coming into work when they feel ill.

Update policies and procedures

Having clear policy and procedures to deal with work in a pandemic situation is vital.

Are you able to accommodate flexible working arrangements? If so what are the parameters around that? Will you be encouraging your team and self to have more regular annual leave?

Do you need to review KPI’s and performance measures? 

What additional policy do you need to encapsulate the emergency management act regulations and restrictions – recording of temperature, tracing records (i.e. physical contact with others), hygiene requirements, laundering of uniforms, etc?

Also, consider what new forms of communication policy needs to be in place? Considering things like media responses and use of electronic messaging ahead of time can save a great deal of stress.

Leadership

Do what you can to take the pressure off your teams.

Recognise that we are all human and that we will all be more distracted right now.

Set expectations about failure, uncertainty, and interdependence. Ask people to speak up.

Here are some conversation starters:

  • We’ve never faced anything like this before so there are a lot of gaps in what we know.
  • We need to hear from everyone. If you’re worried, please speak up.  

It’s also important to practice active, frequent and honest communication and keep everyone informed about important issues and changes. Try to host gathering/meetings sometimes without an agenda with no order of business but to share feelings or concerns.

Mental health

Revisit how and what you can do to support your teams and own mental health.

Does everyone know how to or need to be encouraged to access the Employee Assistance Program?  Share local mental health service details. 

Normalise the conversation around mental health and well-being in team meetings and offer opportunities for suggestions around how to assist each other during this time.

Be a little more conscious and sensitive of the impact the crisis maybe having on out of work life. Many staff are unsettled or uncertain during this time, so it is important to ensure everyone feels safe, informed, and supported.

Caring during a crisis

In times of crisis, every interaction we have is telling a story about our leadership.

Being vulnerable is one of the most courageous things you can do as a leader. Engagement is going to require concerted effort and attention from leaders to build and retain trust and engender a sense of purpose and worth in their teams.

Samantha shared, “Leading during COVID-19 will require sustained energy in the face of disappointment. Passion to try again and persistence to press through obstacles. Boldness during uncertainty and endurance when it is tempting to quit.

“Belief precedes hope so give people something to believe in. Connect effort and sacrifice to the big picture. We are in for a long and bumpy ride through COVID-19. Now more than ever, we need brave leaders, dealers of hope, who can inspire, engage and genuinely care”.

If you need support don’t hesitate to reach out to the DCM Institute team at dcmi@thedcmgroup.com.au.

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Key things to help you everyday

Sales are ‘not the thing’ over the next 12 months – it is MOMENTUM to settlement!

What will happen to sales over the next 12 months?  Who really knows? But lead management will be vital.

This means maintaining a link with buyers in their journey to finally commit to buying their village home, and then selling their family home and settling on their new village purchase!

At DCM we call this “momentum to settlement”!

Over the last few months I have been asked several times “what’s going to happen to sales” and “what should we be focusing on”. Oh, if only I had that crystal ball…

However, from my past experience opening a brand new village at the beginning of the GFC when sales just stopped, and my past professional experience of turning around stalled villages and villages in receivership, it is all about MAINTAINING MOMENTUM & HAVING A PLAN

It is vital that sales teams do not lose momentum and that means supporting them by maintaining strong campaigns to attract new enquiry. 

In difficult times we need to overfill the sales funnel, knowing even the most committed customer may find it hard to sell their own home, for a range of real reasons.

We also know that retirees can take up to 18 months to make their decision. Therefore it is vital that we maintain their interest in the retirement living solution, and particularly your village. 

Do we send an enquiry pack, invite them for a tour, and follow them up, only to be told they aren’t ready? The most common excuse for not buying!

I strongly believe there is no one size fits all solution here. There needs to be multiple lead management/engagement strategies working in unison. All with the objective of moving the prospects decision forward to purchasing, and sooner.

So what helps to do this, particularly in this COVID environment where physical contacts and events are trickier? 

Understanding and language

COVID has been with us now since late March – that’s four months. Even with the lockdowns and ‘no inspections’, we all have seen a change in the emotional drivers of the potential customers, and especially their children, who are now enquiring.

We need to understand these drivers and equip salespeople with the new language, the words that connect with these new customers.

Our DCM colleagues have research in the field now, asking 2,200 potential customers what are their emotions. They also have thousands of people sending emails from villages.com.au every month asking for information – and post COVID 70% of those people are the children, who are worried about isolation form mum and dad (see the research story following).

With this understanding and language, we can work on working with the potential customers.

Momentum to Settlement

It is vital to stay TOP OF MIND with your prospects, to build a relationship with them where they feel like they have an emotional connection with your organisation, and to continue to reinforce that this accommodation solution is the right choice for them.

Consider how technology can assist with your lead engagement activities:

  • Sign prospects up to your organisations blogs, newsletters, magazines, etc
     
  • Ask them or show them how to follow you on social media
     
  • Consider your digital advertising requirements (to ensure your advertising campaigns pop up in their feeds/adverts)
     
  • Consider short EDM campaigns (that can also be added to your website as blogs) to help their decision making (how to choose an agent, styling tips, maintaining independence, a resident case study, get to know the manager, services for seniors in the local area, etc.)
     
  • Use technology to your advantage
    • Touchnote is a great app to send a personalised postcard – construction update, renovation picture, residents enjoying the lifestyle
       
    • Use apps like Calendly to help schedule a return visit or a time for you to visit them
       
    • Make a short video on your phone of something of interest in the village
       
    • Consider sharing appropriate industry news/research
       
    • Send a video from the villages.com.au video library as an interest piece about retirement living
       
    • Use the Retirement Living Council’s Book of Wise Moves booklet as an opportunity to reach out

Be creative! But whatever you do, maintain the momentum to settlement!

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Key things to help you everyday

The role of mediation in complaint management can be a positive for everyone!

Most operators would, as part of your Complaints management or Dispute resolution policy, have the referral to a mediator as a step in your organisations process.

Seeking the support of a mediator can often assist to diffuse or resolve a complaint or dispute that can simply not be resolved by the previous steps of the process. 

Regardless of whether the issue is between the operator and resident or between two different resident parties’, mediation can be a very positive and extremely beneficial path to explore. 

However, many Village professionals see the referral to a mediator as a failure in their complaint management or dispute resolution process.  In my own experience it’s quite the opposite; I have found mediation can often save time, provide clarity, obtain a faster resolution, be a positive experience and strengthen the relationship between the parties.

Community mediation services are free, confidential, and an impartial service, provided to support community members to resolve conflict.

Last month in our Village Management professional development program we welcomed guest speaker Ippei Okazaki, Community Mediator, from the Uniting Communities Law Centre to discuss with our participants the role of the mediator and what to expect.

Ippei highlighted:

“mediation as a process in which an impartial third party facilitates communication, negotiation and promotes voluntary decision-making by the parties” to reach agreement and often resolve the dispute”. 

It typically does require the willingness of both parties to attend; however the mediator can often assist if one party is not immediately agreeable.

Essentially the mediator provides an environment where both parties can voice their concerns, work on solutions together and walk away with an agreement to move forward.

If you find yourself as a Village professional not able to move forward with a particular complaint, then consider the role of a meditator to assist in resolving the issue.  Particularly if the complaint is based on differing opinions, values or perceptions, personal prejudices, loss or fear and/or misunderstandings.

Every state has a Community Mediation service that can be found by contacting:

  • Community Justice Centre (NSW)
  • Dispute Resolution Branch (Qld)
  • Conflict Solvers (ACT)
  • Dispute Settlement Centre Victoria
  • Uniting Communities Law Centre (SA)
  • Community Justice Centre (NT)
  • Citizens Advice Bureau (WA)
Categories
Key things to help you everyday Latest industry developments Reporting Results What the research tells us

Post COVID: “Now is the time” to focus on the key marketing messages for Retirement Living communities across the country…. like loneliness and isolation

Collectively, I believe as a sector we need to use this unique opportunity that has been presented to us by the pandemic outcomes. People are spending more time thinking about their future, reading the paper, consuming digital media and researching life options.

It is the ideal time to promote what our sector offers and our individual communities.

Our sister group, DCM Research, has just got back the first exploratory stage of their survey of the general public aged 60+, and there are some real surprises.

They did this research in 2018 across 1,109 people and found just 2% felt lonely and isolated.

In the first few weeks of June this year, 2020, they found 27% felt lonely and isolated. That is a huge difference with COVID-19 the obvious trigger.

Across a range of two-hour interviews, the researchers learnt that people now recognise that if even their children live in another part of the same city, let alone in another city, they won’t always be able to come to their aid.

They also discovered the meaning of isolation – what happens with grocery shopping when they have to stay in their home and they’re not comfortable on the Internet.

Now think of your residents locked down and isolated, with you and your staff simply being there and available, giving reassurance. On top of that is the wide range of activities and support services village management give across the country.

Now isn’t a time when we should be shying away and slowing down our marketing activities. With the expectation that the market is slowing and enquiry is reducing, reduced spending in marketing is seen as the easiest way to save some budget.  

With this new market of customers who are thinking about their long-term living situation, quite the opposite is needed.

Similarly, I do not think we should be resting on our laurels using the same old same old marketing messages: “great lifestyle, location and stone bench tops”. These are ‘givens’ today.

We need the language that the DCM Research is discovering. (You can learn more about the research projects HERE).

One really interesting point that they have discovered is the emotion of control and independence.

We all talk about living independently in a retirement village, generally meaning the resident can look after themselves, prepare their own meals and so on without support.

What the researchers are saying is slightly different; they are saying residents see joining a retirement village as taking control of their life and achieving independence. This is what they said:

A sense of control and staying independent into old age are key motivators

The decision to move from the family home is a highly emotional one, with many emotions present simultaneously – both positive and negative. However, underlying all potential reasons to make the move is the desire for control – control over one’s life, control over the decision-making process, and most importantly control over how long one can remain independent before needing external support or moving to a nursing home.

This is something we can celebrate in our sales discussions with potential residents and our marketing.

As a sector we provide unique and positive benefits and services to our residents. Let’s tell the world!

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Key things to help you everyday

Simple TOOLS are vital for a Village professional to get the job done

Our research indicates that nearly all village managers regularly struggle with not having enough time! (I would imagine this is no truer than now as we navigate the varying stages of the pandemic).

This isn’t necessarily because we are inefficient or lack time management skills.

In my experience it’s more likely the complexity of the role, the often-reactionary environment, the limited access to operational tools and the unpredictable incidents and events that occur almost daily that are responsible. 

The strategies needed to assist with time management are related more to operational efficiency and support. In my experience, one of the most important time management actions is to have TOOLS to save time.

When I’m talking about TOOLS, I’m talking about practical things such as: 

  • Standard email responses
  • Process maps
  • Village CRM – Village Master / Salesforce
  • Collaboration tools such as DropBox, Trello, Notion
  • Forms and templates
  • Data capture software
  • Community information go-to manuals
  • Site maps with utility outlets,
  • Daily, weekly, monthly checklists for all roles
  • Annual calendars
  • Live Action Lists

I know these take time to set up but if you start with the thought of “Am I EVER likely to have to do this or respond in this manner again?” then save it as a template, document the process, schedule it in your calendar or create a checklist as you do it – I guarantee it will save you hours of time later!  

And if you ask your team to do this as well it will be beneficial to all.

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Key things to help you everyday Things to watch

The new look “Village Networks” … For ALL Village professionals!

This week the DCM Institute team launched a new look “Village Network”. We are staging QLD, NSW, VIC (pictured above) and WA forums, plus we welcome the ACT as a new addition as well.

150 village professionals are sharing the many innovations, the huge amount of goodwill and learnings that have occurred during COVID.

These Village Network meetings serve as an opportunity for Village professionals to come together to share knowledge, experiences, stories, insights and the latest news in the retirement living profession. 

We discussed:

  • COVID challenges
  • Initiatives and solutions implemented
  • Opening up community centres
  • Annual meetings
  • Business planning for the next 12 months

Whether you are a sales person, assistant, in marketing or development I am confident you will enjoy the conversation. The Village Networks are open to any Village professional regardless of whether you are in the DCMI Village Management Professional Development program or not. 

We bring together village professionals within your own state and it is our intention to hold these meetings on a quarterly basis or as often as the group would like.

During the pandemic, they will be held online via Zoom so that you are able to attend without leaving your village.

There have been stories of strong community spirit, like:

  • Walking groups
  • Balcony serenade – musicians engaged to play in the courtyard
  • Driveway events – dress up, Anzac Day, Mothers’ Day
  • Odds & Evens happy hours
  • Operators assisting residents
  • Shopping services
  • Visiting grocers
  • Toilet paper provisions
  • Visiting doctors/chemists
  • Implementing technology to support communication
  • Uniting NSW 7,000 calls to residents checking in
  • In-house TV stations
  • Parcel delivery/post office drops
  • ‘Iso’ bingo
  • Collation of a diary with input from all residents to be a record of their COVID experience
  • Puzzle books / regional newsletter / strong support share ideas between VMS
  • Dress their streets/ driveway bingo / scavenger hunts
  • Donated toilet rolls – prizes for games
  • History of a resident’s life
  • Craft basics
  • New groups formed as skills/experience of residents shared and interests discovered
  • Driveway drinks
  • Innovative fundraisers
  • Virtual book club
  • iOS trivia

Join our next Village Network meeting here

Keep your eyes open on our Village Networks page for the next round of Village Network meetings to be held later this year.

If you would like to register for the future meetings please fill out the form on our new webpage and we will be sure to include you in the next round of meetings.

If you were fortunate enough to attend one of this month’s Village Network meetings, thank you for your participation! 

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Key things to help you everyday Things to watch

Elder abuse is real: what to look for, where to find help and access to policies

Last month we wrote about elder abuse being a key focus for the NSW Retirement Village regulator. In this edition we share some insights and resources.

Monday was World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and the CEO of Dementia Australia, Maree McCabe said:

“Based on international indicators, it is likely that between two per cent and 14 per cent of older Australians experience elder abuse in any given year, with the prevalence possibly higher during a time when people living with dementia were isolating at home.”

Some of the warning signs of elder abuse to look out for include:

  • Unnecessary levels of isolation by a partner, family or friend that go beyond government (COVID-19) restrictions
     
  • Changes in the older person’s behavior, with the person disengaging from family members, health, aged care and other services
     
  • The older person being prevented access to potential supports and modes of communication (such as phone or internet)
     
  • Large sums of money to pay for unspecified items are being requested or spent
     
  • Making threats of self-harm or expressions of hopelessness

Here are some hotlines that have trained professionals that can assist you with your concerns.

  • ACT – Older Persons Abuse Prevention Referral Line – (02) 6205 3535
  • NSW – NSW Elder Abuse Helpline – 1800 628 221
  • NT – Elder Abuse Information Line – 1800 037 072
  • QLD – Elder Abuse Prevention Unit – 1300 651 192
  • SA – Elder Abuse phoneline – 1800 372 310
  • TAS – Tasmanian Elder Abuse Helpline – 1800 441 169
  • VIC – Seniors Rights Victoria – 1300 368 821
  • WA – Elder Abuse Helpline – 1300 724 679

Elder abuse has been recognised by government and the village sector as an important component of the resident services that Village professionals provide. It is expected that operators have the required Elder Abuse policy and procedures to guide village professionals in these matters.

This will be especially so in becoming Code of Conduct compliant and/or striving to achieve Accreditation.

DCMI Village management professional development participants have access to templates for Elder abuse policy and procedures in the online Resource Bank. Check out our new DCM Institute portal here.

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Key things to help you everyday

DCMI provides hands on support and resources to Village Managers with the introduction of our new Industry Links page

See here.

Unanimously feedback received from Village Managers across the country has been a desire to have a ONE STOP SHOP to seek support and resources relevant to their roles.

In a revamp of the new DCM Institute website the COVID 19 resource page has been bolstered with the introduction of a new Industry Links page enabling Village professional access to quick links in relation to:

  • Resident support
  • Legislation and regulation
  • Industry resources
  • Work health and safety
  • Trusted Industry Partners

Along with the existing COVID -19 page, these resource pages provide a great place to seek information in a quick and timely manner.

As does the Industry News section of the new website. It allows busy village professionals to search for past items of interest that may have appeared as topics in past Village Manager newsletter.

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Key things to help you everyday

Time to adjust sales strategies and techniques – some practical tips

Having witnessed from afar the impact on retirement living sales during the 1980’s recession and personally been knee-deep in the impact the GFC had on retirement sales, I am confident that along with the many changes we are facing to the operations of villages, we too need to be adjusting in our sales strategies during the pandemic phase.

These changes will not only serve you well in the current climate but may also instigate strategies that will remain in your tool kit for the long term.

1. Stop selling. Start helping.

No one likes being sold to (and definitely not during a global pandemic). But people do tend to be grateful for genuine help and concern.

Move your sales approach from being focused on you, your agenda, and your product to being focused on your client. How can you help them? What help or knowledge may your organisation be able to provide during the pandemic? After all we are skilled in assisting this cohort!

2. Ask open questions

Ask open questions that focus on them and provide greater opportunity for engagement and connection such as…

  • How are you and your family adjusting to social distancing measures?
  • What sort of activities have you been able to keep up? 
  • What do you miss most?
  • Have you watched or read anything good lately?
  • Is there anything you have found useful during these times?
  • Do you need help in finding information or services?
  • Have you been running low on any supplies or found them difficult to get?
  • How can I help/be of service to you right now?

Listen to their answers. This will provide great opportunity for you or your organisation to perhaps go above and beyond – and be sure if they need help, help them – get them answers to their questions, follow up in a meaningful way, drop off a care package at their door.

3. Make an effort to move from face-to-face to voice-to-voice to (virtual) face-to-face.

Put some thought into who and how you are going to connect with various groups in your database. Make sure you add in the addition of some virtual activities. 

Obviously, a phone call is more personal than an email but a virtual connection is more personal again than a phone call. If your clients are practicing social distancing, then there is a chance they too are craving the visual contact. 

For you it also allows you to continue to put the face to a name and use their visual cues as signals during your discussion.

Apps like Zoom or Facetime are already being used to keep in touch with family and friends, so they are poised to accept this sort of communication from businesses as well.

4. Include more virtual events in your overall event planning.

COVID-19 has taught us nothing is out of the question – socially many of us have been having wine nights, book club, craft afternoons, exercise activity via an app like Zoom. So, interacting in these ways for information sessions, interviews, meet the neighbor events or get to know the team afternoons are certainly not out of the question either. Be creative – let your imagination run free – nothing ventured, nothing gained!

4. Clean up/update your CRM – and keep it updated.

No more excuses. You now have the time to clean up your CRM – anyone who knows me well knows I am a passionate CRM junkie. In my own personal experience, I have seen the strong correlation between good CRM management and long-term sales success time after time.

Again, you have the time right now. So, after every call – even the long ones – get in the habit of immediately updating the contact record in your database with notes, info on the follow-up actions, and any relevant tasks.

Importantly, put some time and thought into the categorising of each individual client – this is key in maintaining the most appropriate communication strategy for each individual.  

5. Get to know your community

With a little extra time on your hands, use this time to establish authentic connections with local influencers – butcher, baker, chemist, café, dress shop, hairdresser, doctor, physio etc. Find out from them how you can help them attract your target market, share with them the benefits of community living, share how passionate you are about the new shop local campaign – the opportunities are endless.

Further to this, look for opportunities to work with local community groups or councils on joint initiatives or apply for a community grants to run a program from the village for seniors in the wider community.

I am sure your residents will be a great source of inspiration for this activity. Establish your organisation as a strong part of the local community fabric.