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Key things to help you everyday Latest industry developments Reporting Results What the research tells us

Retirement villages have a perception problem, and this means first impressions count

Our sister company DCM Research has just completed the DCM Prospect Profile survey of 2,207 people aged 60+, and we’ve had a sneak peak at the results.

What we’re seeing is a serious retirement village perception problem.

Look at the figure above.

Just 14% of respondents perceive retirement villages to be an affordable option, and over half (51%) think exactly the opposite.

On top of this, 42% of respondents think they’re small, with little storage space.

Not great conversation starters.

Digging a little deeper

DCM’s research partner, Australian Online Research (AOR), wanted to know why people felt this way, so they compared the perceptions of non-residents to people who had just moved in to a Village.

And the difference couldn’t be starker:

More often than not, many of the Potentials had been to a village many years ago and had a dim memory, or simply had a rough opinion that has over time become a firm opinion.

AOR found visiting one or more villages turned most people around.

The hard part is getting them to the village.

First impressions are so important

I’ve often said in the retirement living industry it’s the one-percenters that count.

Retirees are increasingly using digital platforms and your website may be one of the first points of interaction with potential residents.

So, it pays to look at your website with a fresh pair of eyes.

Rather than ticking off the list of all the information we as operators feel like we need on our websites, consider “how you build connection” as part of the impression.

Two easy solutions:

  1. Invest in photography and video that highlight the personality of the village and the people. Ensure it has an element of authenticity, that represents what they will find. Do not try to be all things to all people. 
     
  2. Present the village homes as real homes, that people can see themselves living in. Show the village as an optimistic, vibrant place where real people enjoy living. Consider virtual tours with real residents and staff showcasing the style of living and how it caters for individual taste. 

While these strategies are not particularly ground-breaking, they require investment and creativity.

But in my experience, the return on investment is great.

And in these uncertain times focusing on foundational activities such as these will be vital.

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Key things to help you everyday Latest industry developments Things to watch

People – the most important investment a retirement village will make!

At LASA’s National Integrated Seniors Housing conference, I had an opportunity to conduct a poll about the topics keeping village professionals up at night.

For over 50%, it was the best way to provide support for their residents.

This discussion led me to consider two things:

  • Are we expecting too much from Village Professionals?
  • What can be done to support them in their roles?

A Village Professional is expected to be a property manager, financial analyst, social worker, meditator, allied health advisor, lifestyle coordinator, social secretary, compliance manager, administrator, communications specialist, marketer, sales consultant and often hospitality manager of food and linen services.

More often than not those that succeed as great village managers are problem solvers, people that like people, doers, charmers, givers, forgivers, ideas people and those that have strong tenacity, integrity and a huge sense of humour!

But there’s also a troubling amount of churn in the sector today, whether this is through burn out, lack of support or finding the sector is just not for them.

So, what can leaders in the sector do to support these very important professionals?

Right systems, right knowledge, right support

Nadine White (pictured right), General Manager Retirement Villages and Sales at WA sector leader Bethanie, is using the DCM Institute Professional Development Program as a content platform.

To do this, Nadine has developed a One Time One Voice training calendar.

This calendar schedules dedicated time for team meetings, combined sales and operations meetings, Policy and Procedure discussions, and importantly ongoing professional development.

This calendar schedules dedicated time for team meetings, combined sales and operations meetings, Policy and Procedure discussions, and importantly ongoing professional development.

The Bethanie team uses the DCMI Knowledge Centre as the basis for their professional development.  Nadine schedules a topic each month for the team to complete individually through the DCMI online portal.

This topic then forms the basis for the team’s professional development discussion, which assists to cement the learning and drive continuous improvement in the organisation.  

Personally, I believe this kind of initiative and commitment will drive some very important outcomes for Bethanie and the sector as a whole:

  • Increase knowledge of those serving residents at the front line
  • Continue to develop trusted relationships with residents
  • Increase retention of those within the sector
  • Drive opportunity for individual and workforce growth
  • Establish high standards amongst operators and their teams
  • Establish village professional roles as desirable careers
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Latest industry developments

ARVAS is building – and more assessors are needed

ARVAS – the exclusive accreditation scheme for retirement village and seniors housing operators – has a large number of villages registering to undertake accreditation.

It’s a single, unified scheme for the industry, developed following extensive consultation with resident groups, retirement community operators and the general public.

The idea behind accreditation is to continuously improve outcomes for our senior community. It is strongly based on the concept of creating a positive community that’s focused on sustaining a high standard of living for residents.

ARVAS was developed and is co-owned by Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) and the Property Council.

ARVAS also fits in the Retirement Living Code of Conduct, which came into full effect from January this year.

More ARVAS Assessors needed to fill the gap

With the increase in interest in ARVAS, QIP is also looking for more assessors to join their team.

Being a QIP Assessor is a unique opportunity to see new ideas and innovative solutions, and to offer mentorship by showing villages how to transform with sustainable change.

Being trained as an assessor to accredit retirement villages and communities against an industry set of standards (ARVAS) is a unique opportunity to support village management, staff and most importantly residents.

Auditing the safety and quality of services involves conducting interviews and observing the village’s processes and procedures and considering whether these can be enhanced.

Improvement opportunities and recommendations can be offered by the assessment teams as part of the accreditation report provided to the organisation.

A commitment to assessing can easily fit in with your current professional and personal life.

Assessors are required to complete a minimum number of two assessments per year and there’s no requirement to ‘give up’ your current role.

QIP’s portal allows self-nomination for upcoming assessments to suit both your availability and travel preferences of staying more local or opting to go further afield. Travel, meals and incidental costs incurred as part of an assessment are covered AND you get paid for your time!

To express interest please email the QIP team directly at workforcemanagement@agpal.com.au or via the QIP website.

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Latest industry developments

Property Council Award Finalists announced

The DCM Institute team would also like to acknowledge the wonderful contribution of all those who dedicate themselves to a career in this sector.

The Property Council of Australia’s Retirement Living Council has released the detail of the finalists for the National Retirement Living Awards this month.

I was honoured to be nominated as a judge in this process and was humbled by the dedication, passion and initiative shown by the finalists.

And we’d like to extend a special mention to the DCM Institute program participants and their organisations who have been nominated as finalists:

  • Jodie Shelley, Broadwater Court (Living Choice Australia)
  • Sarah Robinson, Bankstown, Kankama, Yagoona, Mirrambeena (Uniting)
  • Kelvin Lloyd, Veronica Gardens (Aveo)
  • Glynis McEwan, Glengarry Village (Masonic Care WA)
  • RAAFA Meadow Springs Hall Refurbishment Project (RAAFA Western Australia)
  • Bethanie Esprit Retirement Village Cottages (Bethanie Group)
  • Lendlease Remember When (Lendlease Retirement Living)

This is a great acknowledgment of dedication to communities, sector and career and we look forward to walking beside you and sharing your progress in this wonderful sector.

Congratulations to all finalists.

You can find a full list here.

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Key things to help you everyday Latest industry developments Things to watch What the research tells us

Independent resident surveys and the importance of benchmarking the sector

It’s time of year where many operators need to consider their requirements under regulations, the Code of Conduct or Accreditation to invest in an annual resident survey.

If you are a NSW village you are required to conduct a resident survey under Rules of Conduct, for instance.

We’re a huge supporter of this process.

It’s an opportunity for residents to be heard, and for operators to obtain information that can develop into future services and business plans.

Personally, we prefer surveys that are undertaken by a third party, and provide the opportunity for benchmarking across the sector.

Why is benchmarking important?

Benchmarking is how we, as an industry, identify the highest level of achievements in the sector, so we can improve our performance standards.

This is valuable data that can be presented to governments and the media.

In-house resident surveys are still a valuable exercise and can be useful for operational decisions.

But we believe it is far more powerful to understand where you fit in the sector.

This highlights areas for immediate attention, areas for celebration and possibilities.

Here are some key questions to answer when considering your survey process:

  • Does it cover the key elements of the ARVAS standards?
  • Will it address key legislation requirements to provide evidence of review?
  • What performance and speciality areas are investigated?
  • How engaged will residents be?
  • What information could you collect that would benefit residents?
  • Which survey format is best for your village – written, online or a mix of both?
  • How are you going to collate and interpret results?
  • What is the best mechanism to share results?

There are a range of survey services, including the DCM Research one stop outsourcing program.

 Drop me a line HERE and I can let you know your choices.

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Latest industry developments What the research tells us

Join the Property Council Retirement Census

The upcoming PwC/Property Council Retirement Census is open and just around the corner.  

It’s open to all Australian retirement village operators and there is no cost to participate.

The Retirement Census profiles the physical characteristics of villages, ownership details, business attributes (e.g. tenure, financial structure, operating overheads), sales, resident profiles (e.g. demographics, length of stay), and future development.

We’d encourage all villages to participate, as the census is vital for:

  • Tracking the state of the sector
  • Comparison with international markets
  • Government lobbying
  • Providing data and facts for operators

Operators who participate in the survey get a free 60+ page report to helps them benchmark their business and keep up with sector trends. 

For more information, click here.

DCM Research National Resident Survey 2020

We’d also like to draw your attention to DCM Research’s National Resident Survey.

This piece of research is designed to help village professionals understand their residents and allows you to benchmark your community against the sector.

Participating villages will receive:

  • Final report in hard and soft copy (175 pages+)
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS) for each village and operator.
  • ResiRating – Score out of five for village and marketing purposes.
  • Resident satisfaction score out of 100.

The National Resident Survey is in the field in September. For more information, click here.

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Latest industry developments

Introducing DCMI’s newest team member

We’re excited to announce the newest member of our team, Sally Middleton.

Sally brings a wealth of village experience in customer engagement, customer support and hands-on experience and knowledge of the retirement living sector.

Sally joins the DCMI team as our Client Engagement Leader and will be responsible for further building our relationships with the DCM Institute’s participants, and supporting them to meet their professional development goals.

Welcome Sally.

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Latest industry developments Reporting Results What the research tells us

Community, community, community – the key motivation for potential residents!

Our sister company DCM Research has been undertaking a project to understand the attitudes and motivations for people moving into retirement communities in 2020.

We asked potential residents about their main reason for moving into a retirement community and compared this to our results from 2018.

Take a look at this chart below:

Now look at our results from 2018.

37% of buyers would now choose a retirement village for a sense of community, compared to just 14% before the pandemic.

Participants of the Village Manager PD program have shared anecdotal evidence that supports this.

This is also true for existing residents.

Throughout the COVID crisis, the importance of community has escalated, with many residents that had previously not engaged in resident activity coming forward and being a part of the community. 

Be it driveway bingo, plaza karaoke, balcony exercise or even quiz competitions, residents around the country have continued to express their appreciation for the community in which they live. 

Community offers boundless mental and physical benefits.

Residents get a sense of belonging, an opportunity to try something new, be entertained, stay fit and health, have social connection, purpose and so much more.

As an industry, it is vital we acknowledge the importance of community, as we seek to educate the wider population and government of the significant role we play in providing happy, healthy communities for older Australians.

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Latest industry developments

Another new partnership for DCMI

We’re thrilled to announce the team at Critical Success Solutions as a member of our Village Management Professional Development program.

Building strong, long-term industry partnerships with like-minded, passionate and experienced professionals within the retirement living sector is a priority for the DCMI team. 

Critical Success Solutions bring a wealth of knowledge in the areas such as;

  • Residential Aged Care
  • Home Care
  • Commonwealth Home Support programs
  • Disability / NDIS
  • Retirement Living
  • Education Services

We look forward to working with Critical Success Solutions to provide helpful, hands-on advice and knowledge with our participants.

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Latest industry developments What the research tells us

Please join our 2020 retirement community research program

Over the past three months we have been working with operators and peak bodies to design the optimum market research program for these challenging times.

We have identified we must do deep research into who is today’s customer and what drives them in this COVID world. We need to capture the satisfaction of our residents and maximise our relationship with them, and market the strengths. And we need to ensure we are recognised as responsible corporate citizens.

The three research programs will deliver on these ideals.

Unique and accessible research program

Looking forward, sales will be challenging, and the knock on effect for every operator will be great.

Maintaining services for residents, settling departing resident obligations, retaining and supporting staff, securing the value of the physical community itself, will all be impacted.

New potential customers must be identified and engaged. Existing services must be reviewed and promoted. Regular business requirements must be executed.

As importantly, the sector must get on the front foot of community discussion on the benefits of retirement communities.

Each of these challenges and opportunities require sound data to take proactive actions.

We have designed the three research programs to deliver operators this data. As we have done in previous years, by building volume engagement, we have achieved an extraordinary pricing structure for all operators.

To obtain a prospectus, click here

For enquiries, contact anna.archibald@thedcmgroup.com.au or 02 9555 9576.

Timing: the research of todays’ customer is in the field now and the first results will be available by the end of this month (July).