Key things to help you everyday Things to watch

What is an ombudsman and is it a good idea?

Confusion reigns!

The resident associations want one.

The advocacy groups want one.

The Retirement Living Council in their * Point Plan support having one.

But nobody is prepared to commit to one.

What is an ombudsman and why the road bumps in establishing one?

An Ombudsman is an independent officer of Parliament. They would provide free, independent and binding dispute resolution services to resolve disputes between retirement housing residents and operators – hopefully quickly, fairly and without the costs associated with going to court.

In each state the bureaucrats within the Departments of Consumer Protection/Affairs seem to have a reluctance to have an ombudsman. The ombudsman will have discretion which is perhaps a challenge within the legal circles of these government departments.

The challenge for some operators is there will likely be a cost imposed on all operators – if we never have disputes why should we pay?

It’s also another level of regulation; many don’t want that.

And fear of the unknown – will the ombudsman display favouritism to residents for instance.

In Victoria the Liberal opposition says if they get voted in they will appoint an ombudsman.

The NSW government has decided it will go halfway and appoint an ‘Ambassador’. We wait to find out what that means.

But operators generally seem happy to have one. Here is the exact wording of Point Seven of the Retirement Living Council’s 8 Point Plan.

7. Commit to the establishment of an efficient and cost-effective government-backed independent dispute resolution process, such as an Ombudsman or Advocate, for disputes that are unable to be solved at a village level.

Read the full 8 Point Plan HERE.

What do you think – is an ombudsman a good idea?

Latest industry developments

Dementia – expect a lot more discussion about how well retirement villages can support residents

This is our prediction.

Out of the Royal commission will come a discussion about how well people with early and advancing dementia can be cared for in their home, with home care, and in retirement villages.

As a village manager you will be well aware of the challenges – identifying your residents early, supporting them and then judgements on the most suitable accommodation for them in the longer term.

With retirement villages increasingly being marketed as supportive of residents with increasing frailty, and coordinating home care, there will be discussion in the Royal Commission on skill sets and training of village staff.

A major focus of the Four Corners program was that a Certificate 3 AIN only receives four hours dementia tuition in their training course.

Our prediction is that village staff in the not too distant future will require training as well.

Four Corners is right. The standard course module for dementia is grossly inadequate. You can check it out HERE.

Interestingly, part of the course is to implement strategies for yourself to manage the stress of caring for people with dementia. A valid point.

We believe all village staff should receive dementia training – to be supportive of residents, to support you and to protect operators and the business.

Here is a link to Dementia Training Australia is one example.

It is a three-day course.

This is our prediction. What do you think?

Latest industry developments

Retirement villages not included in the Royal Commission into aged care

You may be aware that there has been a strong push for retirement villages to be included in the terms of reference for the Royal Commission into aged care.

The risk for retirement villages in being part of the Royal Commission is the public will be further confused – what is the difference between aged care homes and retirement villages?

In the media the push has been led by the Fairfax journalist Adele Ferguson with the backing of the Consumer Advocacy Law Centre in Victoria.

Four of the state resident associations have made submissions requesting the same.

The outcome they primarily want is to establish a retirement village ombudsman, either through the federal government or the individual state governments.

Word on the street is that Canberra is saying ‘no’, it will not include retirement villages. Aged care is a big enough subject on its own.

The only area that villages will be touched is around home care – which is obviously delivered in villages.

Latest industry developments

Is it home ‘care’ or home ‘support’? Better Caring changes its name to Mable

‘Care’ is now established as a buzzword in the retirement village sector.

Delivering care services into villages is now a major service to residents.

But is it a turn-on or a turn-off as a marketing tool to potential residents?

Research shows that people living in their own homes do not want ‘care’ delivered into their homes; they want ‘support’.

‘Care’ refers to services to people who really can’t look after themselves – they need care.

‘Support’ means I am okay, but I wouldn’t mind a bit of a hand occasionally.

Here in NSW, UnitingCare, one of our largest home care providers (and residential care providers) changed its name simply to Uniting two years ago because its customers said they found receiving support services from UnitingCare belittling.

Now online ‘care support’ disruptor Better Caring has picked up on this message, changing its name to Mable.

Peter Scutt, co-founder and CEO of Mable said feedback from the Better Caring community drove the decision to rebrand: “Since the beginnings of Better Caring, we’ve been hearing from those in our community who have said our previous name made us sound like a traditional care provider rather than a bold innovator. And many people in our community didn’t need care, rather they wanted support to live independently and be included”.

It makes sense and the name Mable sure is a lot more uplifting.

What do you think? And will you be marketing ‘care’ or ‘support’?

Things to watch

Next Monday night Four Corners will broadcast an aged care version of their retirement village investigation

The ABC has been preparing this two-part series for several months. It goes to air this Monday night, the 17th at 8:30pm and the following Monday night, the 24th.

The word is it will be quite brutal. Expenditure on food at just six dollars a day and lack of nursing staff (mandated staff ratios to residents) will be covered.

Recently the nurses’ unions have been attacking the private operators of aged care and their profits; this is likely to be mentioned in the program.

While not directly targeting retirement villages, it will again unsettle the public on the safeguards in place, especially for private village operators.

You may wish to think about being on the front foot and communicating with residents that the program is coming so they understand it is aged care and they are not hearing about it third hand after the event, with the natural confusion that takes on.

You may also want to think of your responses to the confusion that can occur.

Things to watch

Baby boomers – will they create new options in retirement living, challenging retirement villages?

The first wave of Baby boomers is upon us and most village managers are reporting that they are ‘different’.

Baby boomers are far more opinionated, direct and expecting upgraded village homes and services.

If they can’t find what they want in retirement villages, where will they go?

For some time, we have been showcasing the Beacon Hill model out of Boston (USA). A neighbourhood of apartment-dwelling retirees have formed a cooperative with a membership system priced at US$750 a year.

For this, they have one employee who coordinates communication and activities.

The first community, in Beacon Hill, has recently had its 10th anniversary. We encourage you to check out an edited video of three minutes to give you an idea of the competition we may have if we do not respond to the new Baby boomer customer.