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Why the Village Managers with Ryman Healthcare earn more

The DCM Institute survey on Village Managers revealed the average salary is $96,639.

Yet, it also revealed the average salary in Melbourne was considerably higher.

The traditional Village Manager staff model is an administrative assistant and a maintenance worker.

Ryman Healthcare’s Deborah Cheetham Retirement Village is anything but traditional. The village offers a mix of independent retirement living, assisted living in serviced apartments, and a 120-bed aged care centre, so requires a broad range of skills and experience now it’s fully operational.

This is also not your traditional co-located retirement village, where the management of the independent living and aged care is separated. At Deborah Cheetham, Village Manager Charisse Spence has a team of 66 staff under her watch – and growing.

Charisse has an Association for Clinical Research Practitioners Certification, Post Graduate Qualifications in Critical Care Nursing (Cardiac Care Stream) and a Bachelor of Nursing (Distinction).

Charisse has also just conducted a major recruitment drive, here we meet three of Charisse’s new team: 

Sharon Solomon, Baker/Café Assistant

What interests you about the role? “I love to bake. I get to make cakes and slices, muffins, which are all the things I love. It’s what I’m excited about. I’ve always wanted to work in a little café, so it’s perfect. I live locally, only 1km away.”

Background: “I’ve worked in kitchens in different capacities for the past five years. I started out as a kitchenhand in my daughter’s daycare, and I’ve got a Certificate in Commercial Cookery. I went back to school and completed that when my children were born. I worked at The Geelong College in the catering department, basically just volume cooking. Now I am here in a very different role. It’s different because I’m not cooking large volumes which is a bit of an adjustment because I am used to cooking 120 serves, but now I’m making more fun and localised things. I get to play, see what the residents like and go from there.”

Biggest asset: “The fact that I love the kitchen, it is my playground. When I am told you need to make paninis or sandwiches or whatever, to me it’s not making a panini, for me it’s about the flavors and making food attractive because we eat with our eyes.”

Best advice from Charisse: “To feel empowered to come up with solutions. Charisse is a very solution orientated person and I appreciate working with people who have that approach because they are open to listening to you. For her to trust me to come up with solutions makes me feel respected and valued.”

Margaret Taylor, Food Service Assistant

What interests you about the role? “I’ve done previous hospitality work and I was looking for something part-time and I just thought the village looked so fabulous as I drove past, ‘I’ll throw my hat in the ring’, and I only live five minutes away.”

Background: “When I first came to town I worked at the military college in the Officer’s mess. I met some high-ranking people, so it was a good training ground and a lot of fun. At 25 I had my first baby and I thought ‘I’m never going to work again’ and that wasn’t to be. I worked at Barwon Heads Golf Club in hospitality for around 25 years, and then I went into their office and worked as a receptionist. My father hadn’t been well, so I thought I’d take a year off and now I’m getting back into it. I didn’t want to go back and sit at a desk; I love moving around and meeting lots of people.”

Biggest asset: “Kindness. People say I’m too kind, but I don’t want to be any other way. I’m just a very nice person I think.”

Best advice from Charisse: “To remember that everything we do has to be good enough for your mum or your dad. I’ve had two parents in care, one is still there, one is gone, and it’s nothing as nice as this.”

Russell Duffield, Personal Care Worker

What interests you about the role? “I was an engineer to start with and when I got retrenched, my neighbour was an elderly lady and I used to help her out by cutting her grass and doing odd jobs around the house for her, when I got retrenched, she said ‘why don’t you work in aged care?’. I love it, it’s like having your nan and your pop back.”

Background: “I’ve worked in aged care for 7, nearly 8 years. I previously worked in Grovedale and Belmont.”

Biggest asset: “Just being happy and friendly with the residents because sometimes all they want is someone to listen and hear what they have to say. I like to hear what they have to say and have a discussion with them, so they feel validated. It’s so rewarding listening to their stories. It’s a priceless thing.”

Best advice from Charisse: “To ‘calm down’. When we first started with training the first two weeks were quite overwhelming, and I thought ‘geez, how am I going to remember all of this?’ but when I did a buddy shift all of the things I had learned just seemed to make sense and I remember Charisse saying ‘just calm down’. That was great advice, just relax and trust yourself because that confidence was one of the things I lacked when I started here because I second guessed everything I was doing, and just the words ‘calm down’ really helped.”

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