Key things to help you everyday

Money Care: financial questions? Support is here

From time-to-time village managers are faced with situations where a resident may come to them concerned about a reduced income due to the loss of a partner or change in financial situation, concern about rising living costs, inability to navigate the Centrelink allowances and approval processes or their ability to continue to afford living in the village.

Up until now finding the right solution has been tricky. Recently, I caught up with a great new service provider to older Australian that can provide information and assistance when it comes to support with everyday financial management.

Victoria Wallis-Smith, from Nutshell Money, has established a service that will help with every day financial management she calls “money coaching”. 

The perfect storm

Older people face a unique, and growing, set of issues and risks when it comes to managing their money.

The loss of a partner, reduced income, impaired cognition, or simply a reduction in confidence is compounded by the transition to a cashless society. Even the simple act of paying a bill, or filing a financial statement, can be daunting in the online world.

These challenges increase with the threat of financial scams.

The exponential growth in scams in recent years has seen older people a preferred target for increasingly sophisticated scammers. There were over 286,000 scams reported to the ACCC in 2021, with more than $323m of reported losses.

Who to ask?

Often, people turn to a trusted friend or family member with a money question. But what if you don’t have someone like that to ask?

A great online resource is the government’s MoneySmart website. Unfortunately, the wealth of information available can be overwhelming and lead to a paralysis of action, and increased stress.

The usual approach – financial service professionals

Financial planners typically focus on complex investment and tax issues, and the cost of financial planning is increasingly out of reach for many people.

And if the money questions relate to Centrelink rather than a tax query, an accountant may not be the right person to ask.

An alternative option – money coaching

Money coaching is a relatively new concept in Australia but is well entrenched overseas – providing financial education, support and advocacy for a variety of consumer groups.

Whether it’s having someone on hand that understands bank statements, or Centrelink letters, to working through how to make the money stretch – especially in the transition from a couple to a single age pension.

With a focus on personalised support for everyday financial management, Nutshell’s Money Care program is perfectly placed to fill the needs of older Australians.

A Money Care session is offered as a one-off, or as an ongoing support program – in the comfort of a client’s home. And the cost of a session may be covered under a Home Care Package.

If you have a resident that needs a little bit of extra help for a short time or just to get over a hurdle Money coaching could be a great resource. Check out more about Money Coaching here  Nutshell Money or contact Victoria Wallis-Smith on 0405 224 964, or email

Key things to help you everyday

Do your Duty of Care guidelines need reviewing as residents age in place?

Residents are living longer in their homes in villages due to the introduction and access to extended Home Care services and additional services often offered by villages themselves. 

Village managers are finding themselves more often in a position where they require the skills and information to be able to assist resident with choices when faced with declining health or unexpected health events.

I am often asked “How much should we be helping residents” or “What is our Duty of Care?” in relation to declining health or when there is an unexpected health event.

This is a really difficult questions to answer the obvious answer is of course we should be providing support and information. But it does depend largely on the skills, knowledge, resources and service agreements that are in place and importantly the operators Policy around Duty of care.

What is an operator’s Duty of Care to residents?

DCMI industry partners and specialists in governance and compliance, Critical Success Solutions, states:

 “Duty of Care is the legal responsibility of a person or organisation to avoid any behaviours or omissions that could reasonably be foreseen to cause harm to others”.

In my experience when developing a Duty of Care Policy and guidelines considerations should include: 

Guidelines around examples of incidents or repeated actions that may suggest there is a Duty of Care by the operator to act;

The process to follow when there is imminent danger/harm to the resident, likely danger/harm or preventable danger/harm;

What knowledge or information staff require to have access to, to be able to respond appropriately;

What follow up is needed, and

What documentation is required.

At the Professional Development workshop days this month participants will have the opportunity to hear more from Critical Success Solutions team about the various components and considerations in relation to Duty of Care within a retirement village setting.

Key things to help you everyday Latest industry developments

The state looking to cut exit entitlement timeframe

The Queensland Government is seeking your feedback after an independent review recommends reducing the time frame to pay exit entitlements to 12 months of a resident’s departure.

In addition, the independent review recommends the operator only be given a further six months to withhold the exit entitlement and to broaden the grounds on which the extension can be granted.

“It is important to get this right, so we are seeking feedback from those who are engaged with retirement villages in any way, about the benefits, costs and implementation challenges of the recommendations,” said Communities and Housing Minister Leeanne Enoch (pictured).

The recommendations if implemented would have a marked effect on budget forecasts and village improvements over the short term.

To provide feedback on the Government response, click here.

Key things to help you everyday

New DCMI topic provides guide to increase digital literacy in your community and establishing a Digital Coach

Last month our DCMI PD program partnered with Your Link to introduce a new topic around Digital Literacy in Retirement Communities.

Many of you will have witnessed first hand digital exclusion.

Day to day seniors around the country are needing to become digitally savvy as they cope to use QR codes, online shopping, online ordering of services and even access many government services including MyAgedCare.

As VMs, we need an ABILITY to have a digital solution strategy for communication and service delivery.

In our PD topic presented by Your Link, we cover:

  • The essentials of digital literacy
  • Why digital skills are important for residents and village teams
  • The fundamentals of how to coach others to learn
  • and, The role of a digital coach

The aim of the topic is to encourage village professionals to create digital coaches within their villages that can assist other residents that may be at risk of digital exclusion.

Not a DCMI Member – learn more HERE or call Sally on 0417 482 312.

Key things to help you everyday

The NSW Asset Management Plan: when will other states follow?

Private village operators in NSW are facing their biggest administrative burden – the introduction of Asset Management Plans.

AMPs only apply to registered interest holders – residents of long-term registered leases of at least 50 years who are entitled to at least 50% of any capital gain, not non-registered interest holders or residents of a strata scheme or community scheme.

Not For Profit operators do not generally share the capital gain on village homes, and traditionally have loan licence agreements, not lease licences.

The AMP is a 10-year plan which sets out how major items of capital are going to be maintained and repaired – and whether the operator or residents will foot the bill.

NSW: al items over $1,000 recorded while other states $10,000

That still means operators must have their plans ready to be inspected by residents by 1 July – just over two months away.

The AMP must detail the items of capital priced at $1,000 and above for which the operator is responsible – and the list is long.

Items of capital include any building or structure in a retirement village; any plant, equipment or machinery used in the operation of a village, any part of the infrastructure of a village, plus fittings, fixtures, furnishings and non-fixed items.

Shared items of capital, for example, a minibus shared with the co-located aged care home, must also be recorded.

Some items are excluded, such as equipment that is a consumable used in the operation of an item of capital or in the day-to-day operation of the village – but the majority of major purchases would qualify.

The operator must record the age of the item, its prospective life and the amount of money paid under the village contract – and keep the plan up-to-date.

Most states work on $10,000 threshold

Paul Burkett is the CEO and Director of Baldwin Care Group, which has eight retirement villages across NSW, QLD, Victoria and Tasmania – he is also the NSW President of the Retirement Living Council (RLC).

Speaking solely as an operator, Paul says the challenge with the AMPs is the $1,000 threshold.

Most states work on a $10,000 threshold, he says.

“No other state brings it to that low value. When you are going down to such minute detail with every item, you could have 15,000-to-17,000-line items for a village.”

While he says the Government’s position is understandable, given the level of concern by residents around responsibilities of repairs and maintenance, Paul believe the requirements around the regulations require more fine-tuning.

NSW facts to understand: items left out can’t be funded from capital works

Critically, the first plan must be presented to the residents at least 60 days before its start date so they can inspect it and provide feedback which must be recorded by the operator – including any changes to the plan in response to this feedback.

This means operators must be working on plans now in order to have them ready in the necessary timeframe.

The plan must also include an asset register of the village’s major items of capital, including information about the effective life of items of capital, and a maintenance schedule of the village’s major items of capital, including estimated cost and maintenance dates and information about capital replacement.

Importantly, if a major item of capital is not in the register, the item’s maintenance can’t be funded from the capital works funds or recurrent charges – leaving operators to pay the bill.

The register will only apply to items purchased or constructed before 1 February 2021 – but will prove to be an exercise in paperwork moving forward as new major items of capital have to be added to within seven days of their purchase.

July 2022 is now set down as the start date of penalties for operators that fail to meet their AMP requirements.

Three-year budget delivered annually

Operators must also prepare a three-year report for capital maintenance extracted from the AMP to help inform expenditure for major items in the village’s annual budget.

If this three-year budget differs from the information in the asset management plan, operators must revise the plan within 28 days of the budget being approved.

And if the total cost for capital maintenance for all of the major items listed at the start of an asset management plan is likely to increase by 25% or more (net of CPI) by the end of the 10-year period, the operator must revise their capital cost estimates.

These must then be made available to residents who will have the option to comment on the changes – effectively giving residents the opportunity to ‘sign off’ on any large budget increases.

Residents unlikely to fund plans

Rohan Harris, principal of law firm Russell Kennedy, tells us that the cost of preparing the asset management plan could be included in the village’s budget, if the residents agree.

“This is well and good in theory, but doubtful in practice because it requires the residents’ approval.  Residents would need to see the benefit and be happy share the additional cost of the plan, which is essentially the operator’s responsibility.”

He also believes the impact will differ between operators.

“Well-organised operators with existing capital asset management programs in place will deal with the new requirements, and may have capacity to absorb or pass on any additional costs. Operators who have failed to meet base level capital maintenance standards that already exist will be found wanting.”

Long history of resident disputes

You have to ask the question though: did the sector bring this on itself?

The Greiner Inquiry highlighted a number of disputes between residents and operators over maintenance and repair costs in the village.

The word we hear from village residents’ associations is that operators are reluctant to commit the cash to replace expensive items – preferring instead to repair items and forcing the cost into the residents’ budget.

For example, typically a new bus would need to be purchased every seven years.

But by continually repairing the bus with new parts – long past its normal use-by date – residents pick up the bill.

Quantity surveyor to be required

Villages will now require a quantity surveyor or similar person to sign off on the plan before it can be given the stamp of approval.

“In addition, where a village has commenced its notice period on a proposed 2021/22 FY budget before the commencement of the proposed amending regulation, the operator will not be required to have its asset management plan reviewed by a qualified person for that budget cycle.”

Rohan says: “Features like the $1,000 planning threshold begs the question – would the time and effort on documenting and budgeting to that level of detail be better spent on the assets themselves?

“But overall, the asset management plan requirements are there to hold operators to greater account for what they are already required to do – that is to maintain capital items in reasonable condition, having regard to their age and money paid by the residents to the operator.”

“Operators that aren’t able to deal with this and other reforms will find doing business more and more challenging.”

All village operators beware – and prepared, including in other states.

Key things to help you everyday


This week DCMI participants enjoyed Masterclass 5 in Solution Selling with our great colleague an industry expert Jacqui Perkins.

During the session Jacqui touched on the importance of asking the right questions, listening and presenting the most appropriate feature and benefit tailored for the client.

A great insight into Jacqui’s teachings on the importance on questioning and listening can be seen here Step Six: Questioning and Listening. 10 Steps to Solution Selling. – YouTube

Some of the key takeaways from participants included:

  • The importance of building creditability through asking the right questions, rather than the information shared!
  • 80% of the interaction should be questioning & 20% sharing the information

First 4 Masterclass sessions now available

  1. Jacqui’s Solution Selling masterclasses are an 8-session series, to date Jacqui has covered the following  
  2. Developing your brand & Sales Funnel
  3. Purposeful Networking
  4. Understanding your customer types & communication types
  5. Diagnosing before prescribing the solution
  6. Selling solutions

With all of these sessions are available in the DCMI Knowledge Centre portal for participants of the DCMI Village Management Professional Development program to refer back to, a great resource!

Key things to help you everyday

A great side course in building Community Engagement – book now

Did you get a chance to be excited by Becky Hirst’s Community Engagement insights at the Village Summit? Are you interested in learning more about Community Engagement and its role in villages?

Here is your chance, with Becky’s Community Engagement Bootcamp. I have just completed it myself and can attest to the content relevance to building thriving retirement communities.

Just two hours each Wednesday

Each Wednesday morning for 2 hours Becky explores the principles and models of community engagement; knowing who to engage; tools and techniques to facilitate storytelling and rich conversations; high quality communication; engaging diversity; and creating a welcoming environment.

Special DCMI offer for 6 January

As a special offer to DCMI participants and Village Summit delegates Becky is offering a 20% discount for the January 6 intake taking the price for the 6 week boot camp from $645 down to $516!!!  Just enter the discount CODE DCM6JAN

Register directly on this event page HERE or visit 

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….

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.