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Retirement Living touches 14% of all people aged over 40 – this is big business​

At times we need to take a step back and think of the sector we work in and the impact it makes on our community.

Our sister publication The SOURCE has been publishing some interesting analysis lately on how many people retirement living actually touches, and also how many new customers we need to bring on board each year.

See the chart above. You can see that across land lease communities and retirement villages we have 300,000 residents across Australia.

Our residents have placed their faith and wealth in our hands, so to speak, a great vote of trust.

At the same time, each resident has about three people that they are closely involved with, as friends, carers and supporters. Many of them will also be a beneficiary of the transition of wealth in the village home at some stage. So there is a financial ‘touch’ as well as an emotional touch.

This adds 900,000 people to a total of 1.2 million Australians that we have a touch point. Given all these ‘direct touch’ people will be aged over 40 years of age, we reach 14% of all people over 40, which is very powerful.

35,500 new sales a year required

In our own bubble, we don’t think of the big picture sales effort that is required to keep our sector humming.

From the chart below you can see that with rollovers and new builds, we need 35,500 new customers to sign up each year, or if you like, 97 every day of the year, including Christmas Day.

With an average village and LLC home now valued around $450,000 to buy in, we need to generate $16 billion in sales a year or $44 million every day.

We are BIG business! If each family home sold to buy into our sector is valued at say $600,000, then $21.3 billion in family home sales have to take place. Imagine all those young families upgrading – it is exciting we think.

As village professionals, we are vital to this ongoing sales process. We are the face and the brand of our community within our local community. It’s a big job.

(If you do not receive The SOURCE newsletter on a Tuesday, you can ask for a free subscription HERE – it’s the best news source on retirement living).

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Your website is often your first impression

Our favourite marketing support is Joshua Hanchett. We asked him to write this piece on the very important subject of websites.

You only get one chance to make an excellent first impression.

In 2021, the website is usually the first introduction to prospective residents and employees so providing a consistent experience online that represents the organisation well is paramount. 

An excellent online experience starts with the following: 

  1. Keep your resident, not the organisation, in mind. Each page should keep them central in the written and visual content. 
  2. Make it easy to contact the right person in the organisation. If your organisation provides multiple services, have a direct line or email to the relevant person. 
  3. Be a guide to your website visitor on their retirement journey. Inform them to make a great decision. Don’t sell. 

With this in mind, what can you do every year to keep your website relevant and visitors coming back time and time again? Below is a short list, but if you don’t have the time, reach out to us. We are happy to help your organisation reach their customer online.

1. Safety and Security – Is your website safe and your organisation’s privacy policy relevant and accessible? Visitors are encouraged to take action on websites by filling in forms, and it’s reassuring to know data isn’t going to be stolen or shared. Security Certificates and Firewall software are easy to install and automate these days.

Tip: Make it a priority at the beginning of each year to ensure your certificates and software are installed, activated, and working.

2. Responsive experience – Does your website provide a wonderful experience on a desktop and a mobile device? With mobile overtaking desktop in multiple demographics, it’s important the user experience is consistent across devices.

Tip: Open the website on a desktop and your mobile device at the same time. How does it load? Is the experience consistent? Is it easy to read and take action?

3. Read and refresh pertinent information. Set reminders in your calendar to read through your website and other sites making up your digital presence, including Google my Business, Facebook, LinkedIn, and listing sites like Villages.com.au. Start simple. Are your Name, Address, Phone Number, and Email details correct? Is your pricing accurate on listing websites? 

Tip: Open an incognito window in your browser and do a Google search of your organisation’s name. What’s on display? 

4. Track search, time, and behaviour on your site. Use tools like Google Analytics and SEMrush. Answer these questions. 

Where are your site visitors coming from? Direct, organic, social, or paid? 

Are they leaving quickly or sticking around for a while? 

Where are they spending time on your site?

Tip: Allow this data to inform how you change your website. A better site experience will increase time on site and reduce bounce rate.

5. Focus on Quality content rather than Quantity. Organisations that know their customers well serve their customers well. Speak to their problems and display authentic images of your residents enjoying their newfound freedoms in the community. Quality content will rank well on search engines, keep customers on your site longer, and even keep them returning for more.

Tip:  Treat your website as a living, breathing asset to your organisation. Let your users search online for solutions to their problem. Focus your creative energy on providing answers in a meaningful way. Once on your website, share to your social channels and email list with links back to your website.

6. Ask website visitors to take action – a phone call, a form filled, a downloadable pdf guide.

Tip: Pop ups have their place, but they can often be overused and deter a prospect. Be creative and strategic with your placements of all buttons, forms, pop ups and pdfs. Remain customer centric.

With more and more people online and so many simple free tools available online, there’s never been a better time to pay attention to your organisation’s website – it’s so much more than a brochure.

Set a time to implement these things in your busy schedule. It will pay dividends and speak to your professionalism, credibility, and ability to provide solutions to the evolving needs of your customer.

If you need help reaching your customer online, please reach out to us.

Joshua Hanchett – Your Digital Partner

josh@myheartstudio.com.au

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Possible Royal Commission considerations and ‘wins’ for every Village operator…

If you do one thing in the lead up to the May Federal Budget – grab yourself a coffee and watch this 15-minute thought provoking discussion from Tammy Berghofer, Partner at MinterEllison, about the potential impact of the Royal Commission recommendations on retirement village operations.

There is a very real opportunity for villages to be the major winner from the Royal Commission.

Tammy outlines the opportunities and important considerations for both operators and front-line village professionals.  She highlights the future expectations of residents and the questions village professionals will need to consider.

In this video Tammy has simplified the Royal Commission impacts to village operations into 3 key areas:

  • Impact of a new Aged Care program
    • Instead of three different ‘aged care programs’ (CHSP, Home Care and Aged Care), it is likely they will all converge into one, with people entering the system and then carrying through to high care 
    • Universal entitlement to care – everyone gets to care for free
    • Increased choice, control and flexibility
  • Expansion of Care at Home
    • This is what the Government wants / long term care strategy requirements
    • Need for expanded termination processes
    • Village and care residents will be older and have higher health and acuity needs
    • Increase skills and knowledge for village professionals 
  • Influence on village built environments 
    • Ageing in place considerations will increase in importance 
    • Assistive technology use will increase in importance
    • Possible grant funding options for operators
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Networking is back! We are taking small steps toward face-to-face peer support

What a refreshing experience.

Over the last three weeks, our DCM team has been supporting three face-to-face Village Network meetings, with more to follow.

South Australia

In SA, Sally & I gathered with 20-plus village professionals to catch up and have a tour of the diverse Stockland Somerton Park village. We also talked all things on the SA Retirement Village Act review, expected SA Water rate changes and Five Good Friends’ new Village concierge product.

New South Wales

In NSW, Judy and 15 village professionals gathered at the award-winning Terraces village, operated by Presbyterian Aged Care, and shared insights about assisting residents to travel intra and interstate.

They also talked about the value of maintaining a peer network, the floods and the impact they have on villages and resident families. They also shared some light-hearted giggles about books and movies set in retirement villages.

Here is some light entertainment if you are interested:

TV – The End and Poms 

Books – The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman and The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village by Joanna Nell

Victoria

In Victoria this week Judy and 20 village professionals shared the morning together at Australian Unity’s The Grace at Albert Park, which features stunning views.

The discussion was around the exciting future and opportunities Retirement village operators have to look forward to. They also discussed how the village manager can set or break a culture of a village and the importance of engaging all levels of staff in the village business similar to the airline industry, where staff are encouraged once a year to sit in another role in the business for the day.  

Keep an eye on the DCMI Network announcements for more Village Network gatherings near you coming soon.

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It’s Award Season – Get ready to put your best foot forward

Each year, our peak industry bodies seek nominations for the Village Manager of the Year in each state, with the National Winner selected from state finalists.

These awards focus on recognising individuals striving for operational and service excellence in all the facets of their village responsibilities.

You can follow the links below to nominate for the awards, please note however that specific eligibility criteria applies to each award.

LASA – Retirement Village Manager of the Year 2021

This award from Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) aims to promote and recognise excellence across the seniors’ housing and retirement living industry.

It celebrates the passion and achievements of those individuals who continually maintain high standards in customer service, sales and marketing, complaints and dispute resolution and robust operational management processes across their retirement community.

Nominations for this award close on Friday 9 April 2021.

To  nominate for the LASA award, click here.

Programmed Award for Village Manager of the Year 2021

This award, from the Property Council of Australia’s Retirement Living Council recognises the village managers, staff and residents working towards the goal of a successful and harmonious village.

Nominees are reviewed on they work they do including making positive and innovative contributions to ensure resident happiness, providing a financially successful environment and going ‘above and beyond’ in the completion of their tasks.

Nominations for this award open on the 17th March 2021.

To nominate for the Property Council award, click here.

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Helping our residents stay connected and fighting loneliness in a village setting

When it comes to mental wellness and wellbeing, connecting and engaging with others is one of the most important things we can do.

As we get older, our social connections change.

We may lose friends and life partners, or be less physically able to attend activities in person.

The result?

Some individuals choose to remove themselves from situations where they engage with others.

There are many reasons someone might do this – it could be as simple not wanting to feel like a burden.

But the problem is it’s not healthy.

Retirement villages are normally great locations to facilitate the kind of social engagement we as individuals need to drive positive health and wellness outcomes.

But what about our residents who have become isolated and less connected?

What can we do, in our roles as village professionals?

It’s an important thing to be mindful of, especially amid the onset of COVID-19 which has increased the risk of older people feeling more isolated and less connected.

Facilitating positive change in your village

This is why we want to draw your attention to Connected AU, recommended by Gerard Mansour, Commissioner for Senior Victorians, in a recent LinkedIn article.

Connected AU has two key offerings, that can be great for residents:

  • The Letterbox Project – handwritten letters are sent from volunteers around the country to people experiencing isolation and loneliness.
  • Virtual Hobby Groups – Providing connection and engagement to people anywhere.

It’s relatively easy to set up, but it can drive serious positive outcomes in your village.

Just think of a resident who could benefit and then check out the Connected AU website here.

The easy of helping your resident will just fall into place.

A little bit of effort goes a long, long way

In our experience, when a resident is feeling lonely it’s the little things that count.

Something as simple as stopping to say hello when you see them in the village can really make their day. We’ve also seen great success with Facebook pages and messenger groups set up to engage residents on the tech-savvy side of things.

Here are a few extra ideas you might want to look into:

  • Be Connected – offers simple guides for older people to learn about technology and online safety. Learn more here
  • Community Visitor Scheme – residents may be eligible to access the CVS who arrange volunteer visits to older people. 
  • Local Government – contact them for information about clubs, activities and community events in your region.
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Get ready – changes to NSW retirement village regulation are just around the corner

More regulation changes are on the cards, this time for retirement village operators in NSW.

On the 23 December 2020 the NSW Department for Fair Trading notified retirement living operators that there would be a raft of new compliance requirements to fulfill in 2021. 

One of the biggest changes comes in regards to asset management.

From 1 July 2021, operators are expected to maintain an Asset Management Plan (AMP) for the village’s main capital items.

This plan must be available to current and prospective residents, and include:

  • Costs associated with maintaining and replacing items of capital.
  • Reasons for decreases or increases in costs.
  • How often costs are incurred and the expected lifespans of items.
  • Maintenance and replacement requirements of items of capital.

Back in December the Department said, “To allow time for operators to prepare the asset management plans and fully comply with this requirement, penalty provisions for non-compliance will not commence until the second half of 2021”.

This week our colleagues over at Thomson Greer shared updated information, which says from 1 September 2021, village operators in NSW are expected to:

  • Prepare in consultation with the residents, an AMP including prescribed content every 10 years in relation to each village they manage;
  • Include into the AMP an asset register being a list of the major items of capital and their prescribed information (Asset Register);
  • If capital maintenance is included into the proposed annual village budget, include into the proposed budget a 3-year report relating to capital maintenance for major items of capital that is extracted from the AMP current for the corresponding period;
  • Update the AMP within 28 days of the annual budget being approved, if the 3-year report included into the approved annual budget differs from the AMP;
  • Update the AMP within 7 days of the purchase of a major item of capital.

This is important. If a major item of capital is not in the asset register, funding for its capital maintenance from the capital works fund or recurrent charges are not authorised.

Concurrently with the New Regulations, the Department of Customer Services has issued Secretary’s Guidelines for Retirement Villages AMPs, including a recommended template to follow when developing an AMP.

I managed to track down the gazette information which showcased the likely template sample and guidelines for the AMP’s in Appendix 1 & 2, pages 19-21. You can view the information here

For those operators keen to commence planning for this activity it may be a great resource to start helping you plan for developing your AMP.

Alternatively, engaging the services of a Quantity Surveyor would also be an option to consider for time poor village professionals.

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Join us at the LEADERS SUMMIT in your city – March 18 – 19

You’re cordially invited to join the DCM Institute at the LEADERS SUMMIT. Hosted by our sister company DCM Group, the LEADERS SUMMIT brings together 40 leading CEOs across five cities, live.

The key is to understand the recommendations from the Royal Commission into Aged Care, and the next steps for your business.

The impact for retirement living operators will be big, as the Commissioners are expected to promote a new model of living based on the current village setup.

In a COVID-safe setting, experience premium networking with your colleagues including our famous hatted restaurant dinners, full sit-down lunches and barista coffee breaks live in every city.

We’re going to be there, and we hope to see you there too.

The future of retirement living and aged care. It’s important.

Remember spots are strictly limited, so click this link to register now.

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Five Good Friends offers great new service – regular home support guidance sessions in your village – supporting you and sales

Last week I was lucky enough to spend some time with Sam Carson, the Commercial Manager of Five Good Friends, a peer-to-peer home support service that has spread across the country.

The great thing about Five Good Friends is that it was co founded about five years ago by Tim Russell, who created RetireAustralia and is a real leader in the village sector. They understand our ‘business’.

I was excited to learn about the new offering they have for retirement village operators who want a care service solution for residents, without the burden of being the Care Provider. And they want a sales aid to show potential customers that there is a care path.

The new service is called the Village Concierge.

Essentially, this service offers operators a regular visit by a skilled guide to the home care world who can have confidential discussions on your residents needs and guide them to the best solutions.

The service means the same person comes back to the village each week and can monitor progress and advise adjustments as required.

Some villages have chosen to frame it as a Village Nurse Concierge or refer to it as a Village Wellness Coordinator.

The key thing is it takes the burden of care off you as a manager or operator, while still providing support to residents that need it. 

It works great in a retirement village setting, and the operator decides how long the concierge is present in the village and the kind of services they put forward. 

It’s a great investment in your future planning too, offering support and guidance through simple preventative health measures and assisting in the access of appropriate home support. 

The outcome – residents with a happier, fulfilling life. 


The role of the Concierge weaves naturally into the fabric of the village as a trusted care advisor to residents. And often, what you’ll see is this relationship grows with time.

Personally I think it’s money well spent supporting residents, expanding your service offering and supporting sales.

If you are interested in learning more about the kind of services Five Good Friends can provide in village settings, I strongly encourage you to contact Sam Carson on 0409 384 990. 

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South Australian Retirement Village Act review discussion paper issued​

Late last week the Office of Ageing Well released the 52 page discussion paper as the next step of the Retirement Village Act 2016 review. 

The review is a requirement of the Act, which commenced in 2018.

The RV Act and its regulations, frame the operations of the State’s 534 registered retirement villages, housing around 26,400 people.

The review will consider whether the Act meets its intended objectives, including:

  • clarifying the rights and responsibilities of both operators and residents,
  • enhancing information disclosure requirements,
  • providing tighter definitions, and
  • ensuring sufficient consumer protection.

A two-part discussion paper has been developed to facilitate the review with stakeholders and community members encouraged to provide feedback on the sections that interest them.

The review will also consider other jurisdictions’ retirement village legislation to support the further development of best practice processes in South Australia.

A report on outcomes of the review, including community feedback will be provided to the Minister for Health and Wellbeing for tabling in Parliament later in 2021.

Director for Office of Ageing Well is encouraging all South Australians with an interest in this area to have their say here. 

Submissions close on Friday 26 March 2021 at 5.00pm (ACDT).

The DCM Institute team also encourages South Australian operators to review the discussion paper, interact with their industry peak body or other operators and finally make their own individual submission. 

Your voice will count!