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.
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!
The Code of Conduct is an important step in professionalising the retirement living sector. It provides a road map for best practice in resident relations and operations.
It was formally introduced five months ago by Leading Aged Services Australia (LASA) and the Retirement Living Council (RLC). More than 600 villages have now signed up – a great start. They include Bolton Clarke, Oak Tree, IRT, Goodwin, Southern Cross Care WA, Masonic Care WA, Living Choice, Ryman Healthcare, Aveo, Lendlease, Stockland, Australian Unity and RetireAustralia.
However, this leaves 1,600 villages to go. To help villages, a provisional period has been established, making it easier for you to go through the process.
The RLC’s Policy and Communications Officer – Retirement Living, Patrick Tilley, says the provisional period – which could range from six up to 12 months if approved by the Code Administrator, Dr Elizabeth Lanyon, will give smaller operators the time they need to become Code compliant.
Our DCM Institute Village Management Professional Development Program makes the Code a lot simpler; we provide participants with the tools and resources to become Code compliant.
Please get in touch with Judy Martin if you would like to know more about how to access these tools.
To find out more about the Code and Provisional Registration, click here.
It is the sixth time that Ryman, New Zealand’s largest retirement village operator, has taken the top award in the ‘Aged Care and Retirement Village’ category in the Reader’s Digest Most Trusted Brands awards.
Ryman previously won in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019.
With 32 villages in NZ, they now have 11 in the pipeline in and around Melbourne.
Ryman villages provide a continuum of care, from independent living to serviced apartments to residential care.
From now until nearly the end of the year Resident Committees play a significant role in the formation of operating expenditure budgets, providing feedback for future capital works projects and assisting with annual meeting proceedings.
This month in the DCMI Village Manager PD program we have been discussing the role of the Resident Committee and how building collegial relationship with them can in fact be extremely beneficial to the village, resident satisfaction and harmonious operations.
The role of the resident’s committee is really as the voice of the residents, a safeguard mechanism for the residents financial/lifestyle interests.
Whilst there are some variances from state to state on the specifics of the role of Resident Committees, in nearly all states Resident Committees are not the decision making bodies. Instead they are bodies that represent the residents.
One of the most important activities you can undertake with your Resident Committee is to document the agreement of roles, responsibilities, behaviours, expectations and process.
This will assist to provide clarification on who is to do what, what the expectations are of each person in the relationship and timelines for identified activities.
Some items to consider when documenting this process might include:
Meeting with the Chair prior to the meeting to jointly prepare
The provision to table research or issues for discussion prior to meetings
Process for communications outside of meetings – perhaps nominating one person from each party as the communication medium (Chair/Secretary)
Type of activities the Resident Committee is happy to assist with (research perhaps)
A timeline for review of the process
Communications to residents after the meeting
Process for disagreements or escalation
In my own experience when the relationship between the Resident Committee, the Village Manager and the Operator is one based on trust, respect, and honesty, then great things can be achieved in villages, and village operations tend to be more efficient.
We at the DCM Institute are committed to continue to provide industry specific tools, resources and support throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to assist you in your day to day operations.
We want to understand what is working, what you are finding challenging and what solutions you require.
We have created an online survey to help the sector understand how village communities are navigating the changes required for the coronavirus.
The findings will be released back to you and used by us to build future tools and resources of support, and to help inform businesses, industries and governments on how they can provide services and support to benefit and improve the lives of older Australians and the village teams that support them.
Keep an eye out in your inbox, you will receive an email for the survey 5 minutes after receiving this newsletter.
Please, can I request you take 5 minutes to complete this short survey.
Reports from the field by the likes of Stockland are telling us that retirement village enquiry, reservations and settlements are up, compared to this time last year, by 10 to 15%. Is this your experience?
Villages that have a clear ‘home care’ support offer are doing particularly well.
Omega Communities in Adelaide, which is two villages that offer ‘family care’ (like private aged care) is consistently running at 95% occupancy. LDK Seniors Living in Canberra, a new village, is selling two new homes a week at over $800,000 each. (They have close to 400 to sell by the way).
They call their offer the ‘One Move Promise’ – their home care support means you will never have to move to an aged care home.
For your village, having a clear relationship with your local home care providers will help your sales as well. It’s a good idea to have at least a folder of local services like physiotherapists and even cleaners that you can show potential residents. Simple but effective.
‘New thinking’ is emerging at the Royal Commission into Aged Care, and retirement villages are looking good!
The Commissioners have developed a model and specifications for housing and support for ageing Australians in the last 10 to 15 years of life.
Senior Counsel Assisting Peter Gray QC (pictured above) stated in Adelaide this week that there are eight key ideas proposed by the Commissioners on how the aged care system should be fundamentally changed.
The whole push is to get in early and support people years before they get truly old and frail.
Make their homes better to live in so they don’t have falls etc. Guide them to look after themselves better, and earlier, by having companionship, getting out more, getting ahead of illness.
The Commissioners want a supportive pathway for older Australians to age. They wish to separate accommodation and care as costs to the government and that care will start very early concentrating on wellness and reablement, for which the government will contribute funds.
Here is part of the list; I suggest you think how ‘retirement villages’ can deliver these services:
create a care stream for services delivered either in the home or in more flexible and less institutional forms of residential care
move to individualised funding for care matched to need within the care stream, irrespective of setting
streamline access to low intensity and cost-effective support services to support a large number of older people to retain their independence
(the government to) fund interventions to help restore functioning, provide respite and delay or prevent progression to more intensive forms of care
support older people and their families to understand the (aged care) system and get the services and care they need
Retirement villages provide separate accommodation. Village management can provide a ‘care concierge’. Villages can provide basic but good wellness centres – gyms etc.
Individualised funding is ideal for the retirement village sector.
Separate funding for accommodation and care is ideal for the retirement village sector.
An early ‘system navigator’ is ideal for the retirement village sector.
The role of the Village Manager will be vital in this vision, a genuine ‘value’ enhancement that will elevate it as a profession.
We take this opportunity to thank you, Village professionals far and wide, for your valuable contributions to the organisations, communities and residents you serve and for your continued commitment to the sector!
If you are working through the holidays, perhaps you could try to:
Work a bit of fun or nostalgia into your workday
Put some carols on
Make time to share special some moments with your community
Share a meal with your community
Finish up some of the loose end to-do jobs whilst it’s a little quieter
Make taking down the decorations a community effort & shout morning tea
Make time to keep in touch with those important to you
Know that the DCM Institute community will be alongside you!
Wishing you the merriest of Christmases, a fantastic festive season and hope that 2020 delivers satisfaction, achievement and loads of fun times!
Resident Associations’ views and their expectations have been heard and considered more seriously than ever previously encountered by Governments across the country, with many states enacting immediate legislated reforms.
In my own 20-plus years of experience, Ministers would barely be involved in the drafting of new Retirement Village legislation.
Yet in 2019, they were making election promises and directing drafting new legislation in various states due to the tireless advocacy work of the Resident Associations (Photographed Building Commissioner, David Chandler and Kevin Anderson, NSW Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation).
The continued slow and steady media activity via Today Tonight, The Australian and several local state-based papers has continued to confuse retirement villages and aged care.
Then we had Earle Haven Retirement Village on the Gold Coast confusing everyone when its aged care home was abandoned by the outsourced manager.
Reinforcing the media’s interest in our sector are the awards to Anne Connolly (pictured right) and her team from ABC, who recently took out the Australian Human Rights Commission’ Media Award for their ‘Aged Care: Who Cares?’ investigation which aired in September 2018.
2019 has also seen the increase in the acceptance of the Land Lease model and an extremely popular housing option for retirees.
Plus the introduction of many other hybrid model offerings such as LDK Healthcare – led by assisted living advocate Paul Browne – and their “Club membership” offer, apartment buildings with Care Concierges, etc….
Along the way village operators are building medium rise villages that look like hotels – and Village Managers will be leading them.
2019 has certainly been a year of disruption and refocus for many operators and the sector!