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Count Her In –  International Women’s Day 2024

At DCM Institute’s recent professional development days, the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was touched on when discussing the topic of Sustainability. The 2030 Agenda contains 17 goals – one of which is gender equality.

The growing international women’s movement has helped make International Women’s Day a central point for action, to build support for women’s rights and their full participation in the economy, politics, community and in everyday life.

Last year, a survey by DCM Institute identified that 70% of Village Managers across the country were female. In 2020, the DCM Group’s National Resident Survey identified 63% of residents living in retirement villages were female.

Today is a timely reminder to reflect on the pivotal role women play in retirement villages across the country – not just from the perspective of day-to-day management, but also from the lens of the wider resident population, and the contributions made to the various committees and organising groups formed.

In 2024, the theme for is ‘Count her in: Invest in women: Accelerate progress, looking to raise awareness of the benefits of investing in women as a cornerstone for building inclusive societies. Progress for women benefits us all.

What has been pleasing to see through DCM Institute’s purpose of lifting professionalism within the retirement village sector has been the ability to celebrate the achievement of some amazing women across the country. Not just through the achievement of many who have joined the 1,000 Points Club, but also in hearing the recognition these professionals are getting within their businesses, within the wider business communities, as well as within their own communities.

Some fantastic stories we look to share more of in the weeks ahead through our FRIDAY newsletter.

About International Women’s Day

The first International Women’s Day (IWD) was held in March 1911 as a day of collective global activism and celebration that belongs to all those committed to forging women’s equality.

The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.

Gloria Steinem

International Women’s Day is celebrated in many countries around the world. It is a day when all women are recognised for their achievements. International Women’s Day was first born out of labour movements at the turn of the twentieth century in North America and across Europe.

Since those early days, International Women’s Day has grown in prominence and reach, touching women in every corner of the world. The growing international women’s movement has helped make International Women’s Day a central point for action, to build support for women’s rights and their full participation in the economy, politics, community and in everyday life.

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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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NSW RVRA in high-powered meeting over abuse in retirement villages

The survey was summarised in a report titled ‘Ageing Without Fear’ which showed:

  • Over 40% reported experiencing at least one type of abuse. The proportion of females reporting abuse was higher (44%) than for males (34%).
  • The most commonly reported types of abuse were Patronisation (31%), followed by Harassment (20%) and Intimidation (20%).
  • For each type of abuse, over two-thirds of respondents indicated it occurred on multiple occasions, with the highest repeat figure of 77% for Harassment.
  • The most common type of abuse is Patronisation, with 69% specifying Management as the source of that type of abuse. This category included village staff, the manager and Head Office.
  • Resident-on-resident abuse was the highest source of abuse at 70% (except Patronisation).

Roger Pallant, Secretary of the RVRA, subsequently presented the survey’s report, Ageing Without Fear, to the Retirement Living Council and the Property Council. A meeting between the parties was subsequently held with a commitment to work together to develop strategies and materials to mitigate the abuse within retirement villages.

Then the RVRA contacted the NSW Ageing and Disability Commission (ADC) and the report was provided to them. A meeting followed between the RVRA and the ADC with a commitment to work together to develop a coordinated approach for training and materials related to elder abuse.

This month Roger travelled to Sydney for a meeting with Robert Fitgerald, the Ageing and Disability Commissioner, his team, the Retirement Living Council and the Property Council.

“The meeting was a meet and greet but there was general consensus that this topic was best addressed if we all joined forces and collaborated on getting a common message out to villages and residents.”

Roger Pallant

Roger was part of a panel at the Property Council NSW Retirement Outlook forum in Sydney last Thursday (pictured below). The panel moderated by Tamara Rasmussen, Head of Resident Operations at Keyton, also featured Jane Monk, CEO of Gannon Lifestyle Communities, and Keyton Regional Operations Manager, Liz Johns.

The ADC conducts “Roadshows” in regions and the RVRA and the Property Council will present where appropriate to demonstrate a joint approach to this serious and important topic.

Roger said some of the key areas to be reviewed will be:

  • Provision of materials for current and prospective residents regarding what elder/psychological abuse and where to go for help if needed.
  • Review of induction/training programs for village managers.
  • Development of training materials for residents committees in dealing with complaints of abuse and referral sources.
  • Communication methods to ensure information and materials are being made available to all villages.

“The RVRA will produce further reports re psychological abuse to ensure this topic remains uppermost in residents and managers minds. Having the support of the ADC and the Property Ccouncil will make getting the message out to residents so much easier.”

Roger Pallant
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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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Put your best foot forward this Spring

I was talking to a colleague the other day who does both Village Manager and sales. I was reminiscing how this is the best time of year to be doing both.

Spring is the perfect time to breathe life into your retirement village. It is also a great way to entice potential residents as this is a peak time for selling. 

I thought I’d share some of the key things I’d have on my radar this year to ensure my village would be putting its best foot forward.

  1. Gardens and Pathways: When it comes to first impressions, a well-kept garden is like a warm welcome hug. Picture vibrant flowers, neatly trimmed hedges, and clear, inviting pathways. A little love and care for these green spaces can go a long way in creating an inviting atmosphere for all who enter.
  2. De-Clutter and De-Cobweb: This one is a pet peeve of a colleague of mine, and rightly so. Nothing says ‘unloved’ like cobwebs around outdoor light fittings and under awnings. A tidy, clutter-free environment is essential for creating a welcoming home. A little tidying up can go a long way in finding a new resident.
  3. Lights On: Don’t forget the first impressions when you step through the front door. Brighten up the living spaces by turning on lights and ensuring all appliances are in top-notch condition. Don’t underestimate the power of tasteful display furniture—prospective buyers often find it easier to envision themselves in a space that’s already tastefully
    furnished. And as we approach warmer summer days, turn on the A/C.
  4. A Community is about People: It’s not just about the physical appearance. Encourage residents to be active. Outdoors walking, in their gardens, doing activities in the Community Centre. When all else fails, make your appointments with potential residents for times when there is the most activity happening.
  5. Personal Touches: This one is important. You are a big part of what someone is considering. How you present and talk about your community. The way you engage with others as you walk around. These personal touches showcase the warm and welcoming side of living in a community and leave a lasting impression.

Remember, the key is to create an environment that not only looks appealing but also feels like a place where residents can build a fulfilling and enriching lifestyle – their next home.

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A timely warning to review Emergency Procedures 

Earlier this week, The Weekly Source reported on a conversation Chris Baynes had with Judy Mayfield, President of the Association of Residents of QLD Retirement Villages (ARQRV). With over 100 fires burning in SE QLD, she is receiving calls from villages that are not bushfire ready in the most basic way. 

“Residents say, the fear of a bushfire is real. Yet they have looked everywhere, and cannot find anything about an evacuation plan, where to stand in case of an outbreak.” 

“A resident just called me. There is only one gate at their village. If fire comes through there, how do they get out?” 

“Then what happens at weekends when there is no Village Manager? Villages now have people with high care needs. How are they going to get out if the fire sweeps through.” 

Good planning and testing systems is essential for safety. The photo above and below are from Ingenia’s Lake Conjola bush fire in 2019. It is worth reading their account of how they responded – click HERE

Fire Safety and Emergency Planning 

While the requirements might be worded differently from state to state, operators have an undeniable obligation to keep their residents safe. This includes having an Emergency Plan, systems, and process in place to address events such as bush fire, floods, and other natural disasters. 

Having the plan in place is critical, yet what is often overlooked is the way it is communicated to staff and residents – this includes training. 

Best practice is for an Evacuation Drill to occur twice a year. While this might seem like a time-consuming commitment, especially on larger sites, they are critical to ensuring that residents and staff are prepared in the case of an emergency. 

The DCM Institute not only encourages managers to hold Fire Drills, but to also keep a record of resident attendance. This way it allows the Manager to identify the residents who haven’t turned up, and approach them directly to ensure they are prepared in the event of an emergency. 

Another tip from DCM Institute would be to encourage resident participation in these Drills by running a village morning tea, BBQ or afternoon tea. 

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Keyton creates Community Connect managers to integrate the village with the community

Lincoln Emsley, after nearly 20 years in commercial property, is one of Keyton’s dedicated Community Connect managers in Victoria. 

Community Connect sits outside the village operations division and the village managers but it is aim is to integrate the village with the community that surrounds it. 

Lincoln’s role is to organise an array of events to bring potential newcomers to the charm of retirement living. Lincoln, who was Community Sales Manager for Lendlease, is passionate about fostering connections and creating memorable experiences for those considering a retirement living community. 

“I like to create opportunities for people to have conversations, share experiences, and answer any questions they have about retirement living. Transparency is key to having an honest connection,” Lincoln said. 

The reticence of people selling the family home and moving into retirement living has to be broken.   

“I try to help demystify the retirement living options. I want to provide a clear picture of the community’s offerings before they decide.” 

Lincoln hosts events designed to introduce guests to the benefits of village life, offering them the opportunity to explore the community and take guided tours during a morning or afternoon tea session. 

“Sometimes people do not feel comfortable about contacting a village directly for themselves and would feel less pressured if they came to the village as a guest or a visitor in a group. Keyton’s Community Connect Program is a great introduction to what villages offer, whether it is for now or in the future,” he said.  

“With this in mind, we welcome local groups and clubs of around 15-20 seniors into our villages to enjoy a morning or afternoon tea. We answer any questions guests may have about retirement village living and enjoy a lovely walk around our village, meet residents and view all our amenities,” he said. 

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The Village Manager behind the filming of ABC TV’s Old People’s Home For Teenagers

Kylie Burgess, Village Manager of Australian Unity’s Constitution Hill Retirement Community in Northmead, 26km west of Sydney’s CBD, is not part of the second series of the ABC TV show.

However, it was Kylie, who ensured the cameras came to Constitution Hill three days a week for eight weeks when a busload of teenagers interacted with 10 of the residents Annelise, 78; Dale, 71; Dave, 80; David, 94; John 91; Lorraine, 78; Maz, 77; Pat, 94; Richard, 76, and Robert, 80.

“Earlier this year I received an email stating that the production company was looking for a retirement village in western Sydney to film the series and would we be interested. Meetings were held and we were selected over a village in North Rocks,” Kylie told FRIDAY.

“The residents enjoyed it once filming started. Initially they did not like it because of the title Old People’s Home For Teenagers.

“You might see me behind a bush, or running behind a bush, but I don’t think so.

“We had a screening party yesterday afternoon and everyone loved the show.”

Kylie has been at Constitution Hill for just over three years. She was promoted to Village Manager in January, after starting as Assistant Village Manager.

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Nurturing Conversations

Few people understand the diverse needs of a retirement village like Managers.

Beyond the physical infrastructure and amenities, we recognise varying needs of the individuals who make up our village. This is especially true when it comes to health and well-being.

This is one of the reasons why Dementia Action Week holds particular significance for us. It serves as a reminder of the critical role we play in fostering open conversations about Dementia and the influence we can have with facilitating access to support and services for our residents when they need it most.

This week provides an opportunity for us, as retirement village managers, to initiate vital conversations about dementia within our communities. Conversations are a catalyst for change.

Through encouraging conversations about Dementia in our communities, we create a space where residents, families, and staff members can openly discuss concerns to help reduce the stigma that has been associated with this topic in the past.

At our recent Professional Development Days around the country, managers shared stories of hosting awareness morning teas, and partnering with Dementia Australia and other service providers to put on sessions for residents and staff. Managers spoke of how valuable it had been to make it easier for individuals to come forward if they or their loved ones are experiencing memory loss or cognitive changes.

Moreover, a conversation enables us to adapt our services, policies, and environments to provide the support they require to live fulfilling lives in our retirement villages.

About Dementia Action Week, 18-24 September 2023

Act Now for a Dementia-Friendly Future

Imagine being treated differently just because you have been diagnosed with a disease like cancer or diabetes. This is the reality for people living with dementia, their families and carers.

Dementia Australia research shows 81 per cent of those with a loved one living with dementia felt that people in shops, cafes and restaurants treated people with dementia differently.

That’s why this Dementia Action Week we’re encouraging everyone to take a few simple actions to create a dementia-friendly future for all Australians.

A dementia-friendly future is a future that is better for everyone in the community.

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From Self-Awareness to Self-Management: A DCM Institute Masterclass

Earlier this week, the DCM Institute hosted the first of a two-part webinar series designed to set Village and Community Managers up for success in 2024.

The webinar series is part of the DCM Institute’s professional development program and takes participants on a journey to help them understand their individual leadership styles.

Partnering with Jacqui Perkins, an industry-leading expert in leadership and management, the first part focused on self-management and self-awareness.  

“Our leadership style is influenced by our personality,” Jacqui said during the webinar. “This in turn will influence how we, as leaders, approach events, situations and our impact on our teams and our residents.”

The webinar draws on pre-work in the form of self-assessments which participants are asked to complete in advance.

“The pre-work allows the conversations during the webinar to explore ourselves as leaders,” said Tiffany Folbigg, DCM Institute’s Operations Manager.

“Professional development is a commitment from both the organisation’s investment in their people, as well as the people’s investment in themselves to get the most out of our program,” Tiffany said.

DCM Institute is running another session on Wednesday 27 September prior to the final part which explores The Path to Self-Reflection later this year. DCM Institute participants can register here.

If you would like more information on DCM Institute’s program, email dcmi@thedcmgroup.com.au