Key things to help you everyday Things to watch

The new look “Village Networks” … For ALL Village professionals!

This week the DCM Institute team launched a new look “Village Network”. We are staging QLD, NSW, VIC (pictured above) and WA forums, plus we welcome the ACT as a new addition as well.

150 village professionals are sharing the many innovations, the huge amount of goodwill and learnings that have occurred during COVID.

These Village Network meetings serve as an opportunity for Village professionals to come together to share knowledge, experiences, stories, insights and the latest news in the retirement living profession. 

We discussed:

  • COVID challenges
  • Initiatives and solutions implemented
  • Opening up community centres
  • Annual meetings
  • Business planning for the next 12 months

Whether you are a sales person, assistant, in marketing or development I am confident you will enjoy the conversation. The Village Networks are open to any Village professional regardless of whether you are in the DCMI Village Management Professional Development program or not. 

We bring together village professionals within your own state and it is our intention to hold these meetings on a quarterly basis or as often as the group would like.

During the pandemic, they will be held online via Zoom so that you are able to attend without leaving your village.

There have been stories of strong community spirit, like:

  • Walking groups
  • Balcony serenade – musicians engaged to play in the courtyard
  • Driveway events – dress up, Anzac Day, Mothers’ Day
  • Odds & Evens happy hours
  • Operators assisting residents
  • Shopping services
  • Visiting grocers
  • Toilet paper provisions
  • Visiting doctors/chemists
  • Implementing technology to support communication
  • Uniting NSW 7,000 calls to residents checking in
  • In-house TV stations
  • Parcel delivery/post office drops
  • ‘Iso’ bingo
  • Collation of a diary with input from all residents to be a record of their COVID experience
  • Puzzle books / regional newsletter / strong support share ideas between VMS
  • Dress their streets/ driveway bingo / scavenger hunts
  • Donated toilet rolls – prizes for games
  • History of a resident’s life
  • Craft basics
  • New groups formed as skills/experience of residents shared and interests discovered
  • Driveway drinks
  • Innovative fundraisers
  • Virtual book club
  • iOS trivia

Join our next Village Network meeting here

Keep your eyes open on our Village Networks page for the next round of Village Network meetings to be held later this year.

If you would like to register for the future meetings please fill out the form on our new webpage and we will be sure to include you in the next round of meetings.

If you were fortunate enough to attend one of this month’s Village Network meetings, thank you for your participation! 

Latest industry developments Things to watch

Buyback regulations increasing the emphasis on sales efforts, especially QLD and now NSW

The buyback regulations in Queensland are really beginning to hurt village operators, with early signs of village insolvencies appearing.

Last week an attractive 45-home village at Tin Can Bay, 80km north of Noosa, went into receivership because the owners could not find the cash to pay out the departing residents 18 months after their homes were vacated.

The regulations affect private village operators that have contracts where the resident is a ‘registered interest holder’ and likely sharing in the capital gain or loss on the sale of the property. These are predominantly ‘lease license’ contracts.

Also last week, the NSW government finalised its new buyback regulations. In summary, an operator will be required to pay out the departing family after six months in metropolitan areas and 12 months in regional areas after the home is available for sale.

‘Available for sale’ means when the home has had its refurbishment completed and contracts etc. are ready. In most cases this adds another three months.

An important condition is the operator can be exempted from the buyback payment if they can demonstrate they have used all reasonable efforts to market the home.

For village management, making the most of every sale enquiry and detailed record keeping will be vital.

In other states, 18-month buybacks are the norm.

The message is every sale opportunity is important because accumulated stock will be very expensive for the operator and unsatisfactory for the resident and their family.

Covid-19 Things to watch

Restrictions easing, but confusion for residents and village managers as opinions differ….

Since the Prime Minister announced the easing of the pandemic restrictions I have been contacted by a significant number of operators and managers to discuss the ‘right thing to do’ in opening up community centres and village facilities.

The whole the sector is taking a fairly cautious approach as they navigate these waters. 

Each state has slightly different phases of restriction easing; some states provide guidance for Retirement Village operators and other states don’t. Some resident communities are cautious and while others are not, it has been a minefield for operators to navigate.

Overwhelming many managers regardless of their approach are being met with challenges from individuals in their communities who do not agree with their approach.

In broad ranging discussions with operators around the country it does seem the best way to move forward is in consultation with Resident Committees. Here are some topics that may help guide your discussions and decisions moving forward.

Consideration should be given to:

  • the current information on older persons advice
  • Relevant state based Retirement Village Fact sheets, where applicable
  • Access the COVID Safe Plan requirements for your state
  • Understand how the sqm rule requirements will work in communal areas
  • Identify how physical distancing requirements will be signposted and monitored
  • How record keeping of access to community areas will be managed
  • How these requirements be met in the event the manager is not present on site to monitor
  • Understand how the cleaning protocol and hygiene requirements will be managed
  • Identify the likely extra cost of any decisions i.e. additional staff to monitor, clean or manage the activities. Additional costs for cleaning products, sanitiser, signage and other resources/tools required.

Importantly agree on a plan should there be an outbreak in the future in the local community or your immediate village community.

Key things to help you everyday Things to watch

Elder abuse is real: what to look for, where to find help and access to policies

Last month we wrote about elder abuse being a key focus for the NSW Retirement Village regulator. In this edition we share some insights and resources.

Monday was World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and the CEO of Dementia Australia, Maree McCabe said:

“Based on international indicators, it is likely that between two per cent and 14 per cent of older Australians experience elder abuse in any given year, with the prevalence possibly higher during a time when people living with dementia were isolating at home.”

Some of the warning signs of elder abuse to look out for include:

  • Unnecessary levels of isolation by a partner, family or friend that go beyond government (COVID-19) restrictions
  • Changes in the older person’s behavior, with the person disengaging from family members, health, aged care and other services
  • The older person being prevented access to potential supports and modes of communication (such as phone or internet)
  • Large sums of money to pay for unspecified items are being requested or spent
  • Making threats of self-harm or expressions of hopelessness

Here are some hotlines that have trained professionals that can assist you with your concerns.

  • ACT – Older Persons Abuse Prevention Referral Line – (02) 6205 3535
  • NSW – NSW Elder Abuse Helpline – 1800 628 221
  • NT – Elder Abuse Information Line – 1800 037 072
  • QLD – Elder Abuse Prevention Unit – 1300 651 192
  • SA – Elder Abuse phoneline – 1800 372 310
  • TAS – Tasmanian Elder Abuse Helpline – 1800 441 169
  • VIC – Seniors Rights Victoria – 1300 368 821
  • WA – Elder Abuse Helpline – 1300 724 679

Elder abuse has been recognised by government and the village sector as an important component of the resident services that Village professionals provide. It is expected that operators have the required Elder Abuse policy and procedures to guide village professionals in these matters.

This will be especially so in becoming Code of Conduct compliant and/or striving to achieve Accreditation.

DCMI Village management professional development participants have access to templates for Elder abuse policy and procedures in the online Resource Bank. Check out our new DCM Institute portal here.

Things to watch

Reaching out to your local MP to get Telstra’s attention, especially with telehealth now an essential reality

Don’t you hate it when you are getting nowhere?

Recently Village Manager Vanessa White from OakTree Dural, an inaugural member of our DCMI Village Management Professional Development program, reached out to her local MP Justin Lesser as a last resort to assist her 18 month fight with Telstra to obtain suitable connections to phone and internet for the resident in her village.

OakTree Dural is just over 30km from Sydney’s CBD, yet residents have been unable to connect with doctors via Telehealth. The COVID pandemic has heightened her residents need to communicate via phone and internet with family, friends and importantly support services.

After nearly two years of unanswered requests and with no rectification in sight by Telstra,  Justin recognised the urgency and began a campaign to highlight to Telstra’s CEO that this situation was unacceptable.

His campaign was taken up by the Daily Telegraph, Allan Jones 2GB, Seven Nightly News and a number of smaller media outlets. Telstra got the message.

This is just one example of why establishing a sound working relationship with your local MP can be mutually beneficial. 

In our Village Management Professional Development program I am often heard preaching the benefits of maintaining working relationships with you local MP.  Whether it is to assist in situations such as this one, to provide support on grant programs, or to open the new veggie garden.

It’s easy. Invite them to talk to residents about what they are doing for the local community, and to have their photo taken. Remember, every resident has local family as well.

Think of it as a ‘win win’ relationship. You will get some access to additional support or information, you will be helping to educate our future Ministers on the benefit of Retirement Living and may even in cases like this one, get someone to champion your cause.

For the local Member they get recognition for assisting a large number of local constituents with an issue, the opportunity to meet local voters all in one place and be educated about retirement living for use in future party committees and discussions.

If you haven’t started that relationship with your local member already, put it on your ‘what I would like to achieve over winter’ list!

Covid-19 Things to watch

How to handle Resident Meetings under COVID-19 restrictions

We have been fielding a number of enquiries around legislative obligations of operators during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Last week national law firm Minter Ellison came out with yet another great communication as a guide for retirement living operators who may have legislative or contractual obligations to call a meeting of all residents during the pandemic.

Meetings still have to be held.

Tammy Berghofer, a senior counsel at Minter Ellison shared;“The retirement villages legislation generally does not provide for any suspension of, or basis to delay, residents meetings that must occur within specified time periods”.

No state or territory has changed this in response to the COVID-19.

The Minter Ellison guide covers all this and makes recommendations. You can check it out in full here.

The first questions you will have:

Can you do video meetings?

In summary, audio/video meetings are most clearly permitted in South Australia (in all cases) and Tasmania (where an exemption from the Minister is obtained).

Operators in Queensland, New South WalesVictoria, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory can hold their meetings by audio/video means with reasonable confidence on the basis that the common law position permitting such meetings is preserved in those jurisdictions (subject to the exceptions mentioned above).

For Queensland the matter will be even clearer if the expected regulations are passed.

The position is least clear in Western Australia where the legislation may require physical meetings – regulatory guidance from the relevant authorities to put the matter beyond doubt would be ideal.

What should operators do?

Minter Ellison recommends that operators take the following approach to meetings required under the retirement villages legislation while the COVID-19 restrictions are in place:

  • Consider whether the meetings can be lawfully avoided or delayed until after the COVID-19 emergency passes.
  • If a meeting cannot be avoided or delayed (for example, because a resolution of residents is required to pass the services charges budget for the new financial year), consider whether it can lawfully be held by audio/video means instead of in person, having regard to our comments above.

    For Western Australia, it would be ideal to wait (if possible) for the government to pass regulations specifically permitting the holding of non-physical meetings to ensure there is a clear mandate to do so, and to avoid the risk of any subsequent challenge to the validity of the meeting by residents.

    In Tasmania, the safest course of action is to apply to the relevant Minister for an exemption allowing a non-physical meeting as soon as possible.

  • If a non-physical meeting is to be held, make arrangements to hold the meeting in a way that complies with the common law requirement that all parties be able to be ‘present’ with, and respond to, each other.

    This will involve selecting an appropriate communication or technology platform that allows for full communication between participants, and which can handle a large number of participants at the same time.

    Various available technology platforms allow for audio (ie telephone only) and/or video participation. They also have in-built meeting functions such as voting, sharing information or videos, asking or submitting questions, and producing a recording or transcript of the meeting.

    Operators should consider which platform is best for the type of meeting planned, and any assistance residents may require to have access, such as the installation of any necessary software or hardware in their unit.

  • Engage with the resident body (or residents committee) as soon as possible to ensure all residents are informed and consulted about the format of the meeting and any vote to be held, and that any specific concerns are addressed.

    Consider inviting residents to submit questions for the meeting in writing as soon as possible so they can be efficiently answered in the meeting.

  • Make any supplementary practical arrangements necessary to allow full participation and voting (if required) at the meeting, which may include:

         o   delivering physical ballot papers and information packages to      residents’ units;
         o   providing a locked container in the village for postal votes;
         o   providing clear instructions to residents on how to interact and vote; and
         o   checking and testing the technology before the meeting.

  • Ensure that the conduct of the meeting (particularly if a vote is to be taken) complies with all rules for meetings under the relevant retirement villages legislation and common law.

    This may include rules about the giving of meeting notices, who may attend, quorums, voting rights and proxies, voting by former residents of vacated units, the counting of votes, and recording of minutes.

Our advice: engaging the Residents Committee is always a first move.

Things to watch

Can you tell residents about a COVID-19 case in the village – check the Privacy Act

Can you tell residents about a COVID-19 case in the village – check the Privacy Act
A common question asked of us in recent days by Village Managers has been around whether or not operators are able to notify the resident population if a resident has:

notified them that they are self-isolating after a close contact
been directed to self-isolate by the public health system
or has been confirmed as having COVID-19 and directed to return to their home
My admired colleague Danielle Lim from Queensland base law firm DSL Law shared last week the importance of the Privacy Act implications that may be required to be considered by retirement living operators prior to making these decisions.

Danielle shared, “If the unfortunate situation of a confirmed COVID-19 case occurs within the community, there are some privacy implications involved in disclosing the identity of the infected resident”.

“The Privacy Act would normally require that consent is obtained from the infected resident before their identity is disclosed”.

“Although privacy guidance has been updated in response to COVID-19, the best response remains to take reasonable steps to obtain ‘consent’ prior to disclosing specific details about a resident’s situation and personal details”.

In my own experience to date, if you are able to contact the most local Public Health department to the village location, they too will assist you with your decision by providing information on the likely public health risk to the surrounding community.

However Danielle went on to say:

“Following a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 within a community, this news should be disclosed to residents and staff, without disclosing the infected person’s identity”.

“In a situation in which an infected person refuses to self-isolate, it is likely that exemptions within the Privacy Act would enable their identity to be disclosed to the community for the purpose of protecting people from exposure to the virus”.

We understand how challenging this situation is for you as the Village Manager balancing the risk to the wider community and the legal rights of each resident.

We have developed a simple guide in dealing with this situation from an operational view to help you at

Things to watch

Where to get the correct information on coronavirus for your residents

Coronavirus is most dangerous to older people and particularly those over 80.

This group has a 14.8% death rate according to a large epidemiological study of 72,000 cases in China.

Now is the time to review your infectious diseases policy and procedure and consider whether a specific COVID-19 policy and procedure is required.

Here are some steps to start the process:

  1. Regularly review the advice of the Health Authority and check the advice for staff. A good place to start is with this Health Department web site and fact sheets for you and your staff.
  2. Develop a notification program to residents – which may change as the advice changes. It can include the most current advice from Health Agencies, personal hygiene standards within common areas, information on self-isolation requirements
  3. Develop a similar communication strategy, on the job training, and reinforcement activities for all staff. You may also consider a mandatory notification of symptoms/travel to a nominated senior executive.
  4. Review the requirement for visitors/contractors to the site, long and short term, and the need for them to acknowledge and adhere to the guidelines set out for residents and staff.

Here are other COVID-19 resources

Things to watch

He’s back! Matt Church opens the Village Summit…

Matt Church is welcomed back to open the Village Summit 2020 on Monday 10th and Tuesday 11th of August at the Sheraton Grand Hyde Park. 

Last year Matt opened our minds to new ways of thinking about the future skills needed in business.​

See a snippet HERE.

Matt is recognised by International Federation of Professional Speakers as one the top 21 most influential people in the leadership industry on the planet.

Matt is committed to helping people prepare for tomorrow by taking action today. His philosophy can be summed up in one word: NEXT! What is the best next thing you can do to future proof your business or career?

Believing powerfully in the idea that commercial success is best achieved by delivering value beyond expectations, Matt will investigate The Power of Leadership: How to inspire residents to live their best life, how to grow yourself and add value to your community.

Find out more about the Village Summit HERE.

Things to watch

Tapping into the WizeNomads in your community…

This week Sydney Startup WizeNomads launched a grassroots movement to connect age-friendly employers with experienced people. 

WizeNomads is an organisation based on inspiring experienced people to find work opportunities and connect with age friendly employers. They promote multi-generational workforces and are the conduit between businesses and people via growing generational connections.

WizeNomads connect with pre-screened age-friendly companies, offer learning and advice to inspire confidence and new skills and they are starting to build a multi-generational community and network.

Find out more HERE.

They believe there is a plethora of hidden skills, wisdom and that mature persons in the workplace can have a positive impact on the nature of business. 

When I came across this it resonated with my lived experience. That as Village Managers we should be identifying, engaging and consulting with residents within our Retirement Communities that too may have a plethora of hidden skills, wisdom, connections etc that could be tapped into for the benefit of the village. There is a certain Chairman in a village I managed about a decade ago that very graciously taught me this lesson, you will know who you are Mr Francis if you are reading this.  

One thing is for certain a Village Manager’s role is very busy so if there are residents in your community with a skill set or speciality then I can highly recommend tapping into those skills to help you with research or another point of view. Good communication and consultation is definitely the key to great decision making in my experience.