All the research, and our experience, shows that one of the biggest drivers for people joining a retirement village is the ‘sense of community’.
What does this mean? It means having like-minded people around you that you can simply know are there, up to mixing with them on a daily basis. Village residents are not alone, compared to ageing in the family home, often isolated.
But sense of community just doesn’t happen; and it can drop away unless we invest in it.
Every January it is a good idea to simply reflect on what is going on in the village over the next 12 months that keeps this sense of community alive.
What are you doing as the village manager to keep the momentum going?
We can’t do everything and we are not entertainment officers. Think about three things you can invest in over the next 12 months. Here is a list I refer to.
- Are you undertaking a regular walk around the village (my preference is on a weekly basis, to get out from behind the desk)?
- Do you stage a simple regular Village Manager morning/afternoon tea – using this opportunity to get to know residents on a one-on-one basis?
- Do you need a small budget to make contributions to kickstart events? Perhaps ask the operator as it will build goodwill for the village.
- Check the social club/committee. Is it active and vibrant or losing its puff? Does it need new blood? Can you get involved for a period of time, suggesting bus events, Monday coffee meets for the men etc?
- Does the village have an objective, like raising money for the local surf lifesaving club or quilting for a women’s homeless shelter etc?
- Do you have a resident buddy system to accompany a new resident or reserved resident to activities within the village?
- Do you provide an opportunity for all residents to have a say in the items that are important to their lifestyle ie survey, informal meetings, suggestion box, feedback forms?
- Can you identify a common cause that can be worked on together by all of the resident community ie community market stall, Christmas event, rejuvenation of a garden area?
Pick just three as a start. My experience is a healthy village community makes a village manager’s job so much easier and rewarding.