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Employee Appreciation Day is 1 March 2024

Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.

Stephen R. Covey, ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’

With Employee Appreciation Day just around the corner, it’s a timely reminder for Australian businesses to step up the recognition of their hard-working employees.

Employee Appreciation Day is an excellent opportunity to show your team how much you value their efforts. With recognition so closely tied to retention (and recruitment), it’s critical that you take the time to create bespoke, meaningful ways to celebrate this occasion within your unique workplace.

While Employee Appreciation Day is celebrated on one day, it’s principles should be upheld all year long. By reinforcing a positive work culture that recognises achievements, you can uplift your employees to reduce stress, increase productivity and boost motivation to help you exceed your organisational goals.

How to show appreciation on Employer Appreciation Day

Don’t forget, a little appreciation goes a long way in fostering a happy and motivated workforce. By leveraging Employee Appreciation Day in Australia, you can show your team how truly valued they are. 

88% of Australian employers are concerned about their company’s ability to retain employees in 2024.

With reasons spanning everything from competition (26%) to heavy workloads (25%), non-competitive salaries (21%) to burnout (20%), it’s clear that employees require more focus than ever before*.

Celebrations don’t have to be complicated but they do have to be meaningful. If you’re wondering where to start, consider some of our suggestions below: 

Say ‘thank you’ Sure, it sounds simple but vocal appreciation is super important. 

These two little words not only make employees feel valued, they also help to set a great example for positive reinforcement in the workplace. 

Cultivating a positive work environment helps to boost productivity and the wider employee experience. 

DCM Institute wants to say THANK YOU to all our participants who attend our Professional Development Days and Masterclasses and are committed to continuing their professional development journey with us through the use of the Knowledge Centre.

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“Managers Need to Manage”

Part of our wider Village Manager Professional Development Program, these days combine peer networking with hearing from sector experts and advocates on a range of topics. This series of events focuses on Village Finance and Budgets.

There is one clear take away, “managers need to manage.”

This was the advice of Craig Bennett, President of the NSW Retirement Village Residents association speaking on the role of Retirement Village Managers when it comes to handling budgets and finances.

Not surprisingly, this has been a common message across the country.

For more than a decade there has been an increase in the role of ‘support offices’ when it comes to the preparation of financial reports and Village Budgets. When we consider the increased regulatory compliance placed on operators with regards to the management of funds collected by residents each month, this makes sense.

The involvement of support offices ensures a greater level of compliance given the requirements are vastly different across each state and territory – a challenge for operators with villages in multiple jurisdictions.

In speaking at our events across the country, one of the concerns from the Residents Associations has also been an increase in Managers distancing themselves from the Budget they deliver to residents, deferring responsibility to the support office.

Our events provide an opportunity to discuss these concerns openly with village professionals in each capital city. To have an open conversation and respond accordingly as a collective of professionals committed to best practice and good outcomes for residents.

Through these discussions, Managers are telling us how the expectation of the operator is aligning with that of the residents – that they, the Village Manager, take ownership. The role of the Village Manager isn’t just to understand what is in their budget, but also to take ownership of the approval process and then the management of what is finally approved.

This extends to Managers providing Committees with quarterly financial reporting with the Residents Associations and operators agreeing that this process alone provides Managers with moments across the year to inform residents on how the village’s finances are tracking – across all budgets and cost centres.

The budget process is lengthy, with most Managers already well into the preparation for 2024-25. As Jonathon Chow, Special Counsel at MinterEllison, acknowledged at the start of his presentation in Sydney this week: “This process can stir a lot of emotions in both Managers and Residents.”

We are confident though, when ‘Managers manage’, as Craig put it, there can be positive outcomes for all concerned.

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Five on Friday with Rachel Crosby

Introducing Rachel Crosby (pictured left), Village Manager at NovaCare Busselton in Western Australia, and part of DCM Institute’s exclusive 1,000 Club.

Describe your role as a Village Manager

“My role is a very interactive with the residents. I have an open door policy where at any time throughout the day I can be approached about any concerns they may, and assisting with an outcome, or sitting in a finance, social or committee meeting discussing and making decisions that will have the best outcome for the village.

“We are very lucky at NovaCare to have such an active committee along with a small but cheerful team whop are willing to assist at any moment.”

How did you become a Village Manager?

I was working in aged care achieving a Certificate 4 before I became joined NoveCare as Village Manager in Busselton in May 2011.

Describe how you are as a Village Manager

“It is the most fulfilling job one could ever have. No two days are ever the same and this can sometimes be a challenge, but the support I receive in my role from the board of NovaCare to the residents is very fulfilling and I look forward to what lies ahead. I have lived in the southwest of the state for most of my life and there is nowhere I would rather be.”

How has being part of the DCM Institute helped your career? 

“Being part of the DCMI has been crucial to my development as a manager. Being in the south west of Western Australia and being a standalone village is a tough gig but with the online learning portal I can keep up to date with what is happening within the industry from the comfort of my office, without having to drive for three hours to attend a meeting.

Any advice to anyone thinking of being a Village Manager?

“If you are passionate about older people and ensuring that their life is to be enjoyed then get on board and develop skills which will assist in gaining employment in the field, as it is not going away anytime soon.”

about the 1,000 club

The acheivement of Professional Development Points demonstrates an individuals commitment to learning and their own professional development with DCM Institute.

Every monthly topic released to the DCM Institute’s Knowledge Centre accumulates points for thos participants who complete them. Points are also acheived through working through the vast array of topics in the Knowledge Centre, as well as attending webinars, Professional Development Days and Village Summit Events.

For more information contact the DCM Institute.

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Falling for the Feedback Fallacy

Feedback is an invaluable tool for your professional development. Research suggests individuals who seek and act on feedback tend to be more effective and successful in their careers.

To make the most of this process, we encourage professionals to adopt a strategic approach. One that involves actively soliciting feedback. This will pushes you to unlock your potential, enhance your skills, and navigate your journey of growth with greater insight and confidence.

A good strategy would begin with:

Change Your Perception

We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.

Bill Gates

To truly benefit from feedback, one must overcome self-resistance and approach it with curiosity and confidence. Acknowledge that feedback doesn’t necessarily dictate truth but offers an opportunity for active learning and reflection. The goal is to use feedback as a catalyst for growth, understanding that the key variable for development is the individual.

Develop a Growth Mindset

Embrace the concept of a growth mindset, as coined by psychologist Dr. Carol Dweck. Individuals with a growth mindset believe in the malleability of their abilities, fostering a willingness to face challenges and persist through failures.

For Village Managers, a growth mindset is essential for continuous improvement and adaptation – not to mention balancing the sometimes competing priorities of the wider business and residents.

Recognise Different Types of Feedback

The best feedback is what we don’t want to hear.

George Raveling

Feedback comes in various forms, including appreciation, coaching, and evaluation. Understanding the purpose behind feedback is crucial for both givers and receivers. Appreciation motivates and encourages, coaching enhances knowledge and skills, and evaluation rates performance against set standards. Misinterpretation can occur, so engaging in clarifying conversations is essential to align expectations.

Accept, Clarify, and Thank

Receiving feedback effectively involves a three-step process. Firstly, accept the feedback with an open mind. Next, clarify by seeking specific examples and understanding expectations. A great way to do this is to ask the person giving you feedback “When you said [], what do you mean?” Asking questions can be both scary, and humbling. But those who embrace feedback do it regularly, even when it makes them feel uneasy.

Finally, express gratitude to the giver for their time and effort. It’s crucial to be attentive, slow to speak, and quick to listen, managing emotions thoughtfully throughout the process.

A feedback integration strategy is not just about collecting feedback but about embracing it as a catalyst for growth. By changing perceptions, fostering a growth mindset, recognising diverse feedback types, and adopting a thoughtful reception process, village managers can harness the transformative power of feedback on their journey towards excellence.

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Professional Development Returns to Perth

The event brought together professionals from across Western Australia for a day of networking and hearing from industry experts and practitioners on the topics of Sustainability, Village Finances, and Budgets.

One of the highlights of the day was the presentation of Bianca McGoldrick from Jackson McDonald, who shed light on the legal obligations of the administering body concerning village budgets. Her expertise encouraged Village professionals to take ownership of their budget, just as they should their village, to give residents confidence and deliver financial success.

Representing the residents’ perspective, WARVRA President Ron Chamberlain spoke eloquently and empathetically. Ron spoke to some of the shared concerns WARVRA has with some of the ambiguities in the legislation, both new and proposed.

Find a way to educate residents on the operation of the village, including village finances and budgets.

The afternoon session witnessed engaging workshops centred around real-life situations, guided by a presentation on Operational Best Practice by sector experts, Village Solutions Australia. Andrew Hanna and Rebecca Duckham provided practical insights and strategies to enhance operational efficiency and effectiveness within their respective villages

Importantly, all speakers stressed the importance of commencing all conversations around Budgets and Finances as earlier as possible, to bring residents along for the journey.

Whilst always challenging, the annual meeting is an opportunity to build trust and confidence.

Andrew Hanna, Village Solutions Australia

The Professional Development Day in Perth proved to be a resounding success, setting the stage for the upcoming sessions in Brisbane and Melbourne next week.

For those seeking more information on the DCM Institute’s Professional Development Day series and upcoming events, click here.

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24-years strong: From Cleaner to Village Administrator

Karen Pohl started her journey at what is now Keyton’s Abervale retirement village in Grovedale, a southern suburb of Geelong, Victoria, as a cleaner. 

She quickly progressed into the role of Village Administrator. 

“They needed someone I guess,” she laughs. “I actually didn’t apply for the job. I filled in for the role a couple of times, and I already knew a lot of the residents as well. Also back then, I was probably a bit more computer savvy than some other people. But I’ve gotten old now.” 

Karen’s mum moved into the village after Karen began working there. 

“It was good having her here. I got to see her and catch up a fair bit,’ Karen said.  

After her mum sadly passed away, Karen found comfort in her work as the receptionist, and interacting with residents and their families on a daily basis. When asked what the best part of her job is, she has a very quick answer. 

“It’s interaction with the residents. And milestone events. There were some really special times. 100th birthday celebrations, the village anniversary, and we even had a wedding here not long ago. This is fantastic. This is when we can make the residents happy.” 

The living embodiment of the Keyton values

A self declared introvert who doesn’t like to talk about herself, Karen feels at home at Abervale. 

“I am very, very introverted. But you put me behind that desk, and I can have a chat to residents and talk about things they want to talk about.’ 

Village manager Andrew Scholten, who has worked alongside Karen for many years, said Karen is the backbone of the village. 

“She holds all the history, knows every resident and their families, she is loved dearly by every resident and every member of staff,” he said during the village’s 40 year anniversary. 

“She is smart, witty, full of fun and vitality and is the living embodiment of the Keyton values. You are such an important person for everyone in the village and we have to let you know that. You are a remarkable person.” 

Will Karen see 30 years at Abervale? 

“I’m going on a holiday shortly, to Canada and Alaska. I will be overseas for three and a half weeks. But other than that, I’ve got nowhere else to go at the moment, so I keep turning up for work,” she said.  

“You’ve gotta be a little bit crazy to be in any job for that long.” 

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Yes Chef

The year was 2005, and it was my inaugural Pancake Day as the new Chef in an exclusive Retirement Village. Little did I know, I was about to step into the culinary carnival of the century! This day, as I discovered, was not just a celebration; it was a culinary extravaganza, a grand spectacle in the retirement village’s social calendar.

As the morning sun heralded the arrival of Pancake Day, I took my place in the kitchen to prepare as any good chef. We call it Mise en place – a French culinary phrase which means “putting in place” or “gather”. It refers to the setup required before cooking.

It turned out, there wasn’t enough time for what happened next. They descended upon the dining hall like children at a desert bar. And they bring reinforcements – friends and family, all eager to partake in the day.

The wait staff found themselves in a whirlwind, a dance of pancakes and plates as the demand soared higher than our griddle temperatures. Pancake flipping went from an art form to a method of survival.

There was a moment of sheer panic as our supplies of strawberries and ice cream disappeared before our very eyes.

Thankfully, the culinary gods smiled upon us. The residents continued their feast, and the dining hall echoed with laughter and stories of how this day had been celebrated in the family home, long before their retirement.

Looking back, that first Pancake Day remains etched in my memory as a delightful yet chaotic adventure. It was a day when the kitchen became a stage, and I, the unwitting protagonist, learned that Pancake Day in a retirement village is not just a day—it’s a gastronomic carnival that brings people together in the name of fluffy goodness.

About Pancake Day

This year, Pancake Day falls on Tuesday, February 13, 2024. The day always falls 47 days before Easter Sunday (a feast that is determined by the cycles of the moon), so the date changes slightly each year.

Why do we have pancake day?

Pancake Day, also known as Shrove Tuesday, is always the day before Ash Wednesday on the Christian calendar. The word ‘shrove’ originates from the English word ‘shrive’, which is the act of confessing one’s sins and doing penance. Making pancakes is a tradition that was developed as a means of using up rich foods such as eggs, milk and sugar before the 40-days of fasting.

The perfect pancake recipe


– 2 cups all-purpose flour

– 2 tablespoons sugar

– 1 tablespoon baking powder

– 1/2 teaspoon salt

– 2 large eggs

– 1 3/4 cups milk

– 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

– Butter or oil for cooking


1. Prepare the Dry Ingredients

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Ensure a thorough blend to guarantee an even consistency in your batter.

2. Create a Well in the Centre

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. This is where the magic begins.

3. Whisk the Wet Ingredients

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Pour this delightful concoction into the well you’ve created in the dry ingredients.

4. Mix Gently

Gradually incorporate the wet and dry ingredients, stirring gently with a wooden spoon or a spatula. Do not overmix; a few lumps are perfectly acceptable for the fluffiest pancakes.

5. Rest the Batter

Let the batter rest for about 10 minutes. This gives the baking powder time to work its leavening magic, resulting in pancakes that are light and airy.

6. Preheat the Griddle or Pan

While the batter is resting, preheat your griddle or non-stick pan over medium heat. Add a pat of butter or a splash of oil to ensure your pancakes don’t stick.

7. Spoon and Cook

Spoon the batter onto the hot griddle, using about 1/4 cup for each pancake. Cook until bubbles form on the surface, then flip and cook until the other side is golden brown.

8. Keep Warm:

As you cook batches of pancakes, keep them warm in a low oven (around 95°C) to maintain their delightful warmth.

9. Serve with Toppings

Now, here’s where you can get creative! Serve your perfect pancakes with a variety of toppings – fresh berries, a dollop of whipped cream, a drizzle of maple syrup, or, if you’re feeling indulgent, a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

10. Enjoy.

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Let’s Talk About Australia Day

We received an enquiry during the week from a colleague in the sector to see what our views were on continued to do something on Australia Day in retirement villages.

It was a conversation they were struggling with given the public debate around changing the date for our national day.

It is a debate that needs to be had, respectfully.

Respectfully means that in our role as Village Professionals if our residents want to celebrate Australia Day, then it should be encouraged.

We have written in our newsletters and openly discussed at our networking days the important role social engagement plays in keeping residents healthy and active. Australia Day is a day on a Village’s Activity Calendar that many residents continue to look forward to, with many having deeply rooted traditions.

These are traditions of residents coming together and being social in community centres. Of barbeques and long lunches. Of a happy hour that lasts for hours.

We must always remember that we have the privilege of working in someone’s home. That is an important word – home. They say home is where the heart is. In a retirement village, a healthy beating heart is the social environment we foster and encourage.

So long as our residents do not do anything to disrupt the quiet enjoyment of others – then why shouldn’t they be encouraged to continue their traditions. Even if the debate happens within our communities, keeping it respectful won’t disrupt this beating heart.

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Raising Awareness: The Risks with Lithium-ion Battery Failure

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

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

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

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

What causes lithium-ion batteries to fail?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What can we do?

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

For further information

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

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

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Networking: A Contact Sport

“Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.” – Bill Nye

In a world where running a retirement village is like a never-ending jigsaw puzzle, we need all the support we can get. Saying this makes you start to appreciate the collegiate nature of being a Village Professional.

How then do you get the most out of networking opportunities, such as DCM Institutes upcoming Professional Development Day

Through the knowledge sharing these days present you with.

Gone are the days where successful networking was seen as how many business cards you could hand out, compared to how many you collect. (Do people even use business cards anymore?)

Networking days are primarily about relationship building, where both parties come away stronger from the connection and information sharing the event has provided them with.  An opportunity to feed off the energy of being in a room with someone, and not talking to a monitor. To learn from peers through conversations or table discussions, feeding your passion for your growth as a Village Professional.

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.” African Proverb.

Networking and knowledge sharing aren’t just buzzwords; they’re the unsung heroes in our search for excellence.  It’s about building a group of industry peers who’ve got your back and challenge you to expand your mind. To open you up to perspectives and opportunities you’d never previously considered.

Knowledge sharing is another avenue in fostering growth.  Collaborating with colleagues provides a platform to exchange ideas, challenges, and solutions. By sharing successes and learning from others’ experiences, you can gain practical insights. This collective wisdom creates a supportive community that thrives on the principles of mutual growth and development. 

“Your Network is Your Net Worth”

Try not to go into networking opportunities thinking you don’t have anything to contribute. Every person has experienced a unique situation they have had to solve or a common issue they have had to look at from a different perspective. Opening a person up to you, and you up to them comes from simply asking questions.

Next time you walk into a room with peers, join a group and keep the conversation flowing. You will quickly learn that as peers, we are all in this together, and there’s no better way to learn than with friends who’ve got your back.