Latest industry developments Things to watch

Interesting bit of information – Ingenia testing ‘flat pack’ homes made in China

We will report on this in more detail over the next few months but thought this might tickle your fancy – it sparked our imagination.

Land lease community and rental village operator Ingenia, with over 50 locations, is trialling the manufacture of complete homes in China and shipping them here to Australia.

We hear they have already built one and have ordered and a further nine.

Why are they doing this? Their CEO Simon Owen comes from the retirement village sector and he tells us its origins were affordable housing for Australia’s ageing population. He wants to continue that service.

The potential cost of a two-bedroom home – less than $200,000.

This is not new. Check out these hotels

For hotel rooms we have been told that the room arrives complete with the linen on the bed and the towels in the bathroom!

Your next village may be made in China!

Latest industry developments

VIC Liberals and now NSW Labor promise a retirement village ombudsman if elected

The role of an ombudsman is to be the policeman (or woman) of the retirement village sector.

In Victoria, Labor is in power and resisting the appointment of an ombudsman. They have an election in one month’s time, 24 November. The Liberals say they will appoint an ombudsman if they win.

NSW goes to the polls on 23 March next year. The Liberals are in power and last week the Labor Opposition Leader Luke Foley promised to appoint a retirement village ombudsman if elected.

At the moment Liberals are planning to announce a position they call an ‘ambassador’ in the next week. It is uncertain what this role is but it will have less power than an ombudsman.

Labor leader Luke Foley said the ombudsman would consider disputes related to the Australian Consumer Law, Retirement Villages Act 1999, Residential (Land Lease) Communities Act 2013, and associated regulations, and report systemic problems in the sector to Parliament.

What this all demonstrates is that if you are in government you don’t want more regulation to administer. If you are not in government you will say anything to win the day.

Key things to help you everyday

Annual Meetings an Opportunity to Build Resident Relationships By Jodie Prosser

It’s annual meetings time for many villages. The pressure is on to attend to all the regulatory and operational tasks like company updates, sharing facts, figures and numbers, discussing maintenance and operational concerns.

Here are a couple of tips.

It will pay great dividends if you keep the whole process ‘positive’, especially as annual meetings can see concerns raised that negatively affect the overall purpose of the meeting.

Think about the words you are using, the tone, facial expressions, body language and responses.

It is very easy to be defensive. However it is more productive to remain calm; remember it is NOT personal, and focus on the opportunity for improvement.

Concerns can be raised by one or a small group of residents that have previously been dealt with. Or new concerns and opinions expressed.

Think of the concern/feedback as an opportunity for improvement.

Give all concerns due consideration, seek consultation from relevant stakeholders, respond in a positive manner and think about whether the issue need to be included on the continuous improvement plan.

Keep your team positive too. If the Annual Meeting has moments of hostility or was perceived as challenging by your team present at the meeting, it is important to quickly regroup with them and support them with the knowledge and attitude of the possible positive outcomes.

Remind the team that out of adversity often comes great solutions. Minimise any negative hallway chatter amongst your team by keeping them informed.

Annual meetings are also a great opportunity to strengthen relationships with residents. Here are some ideas.

  • Update your residents on the good news stories of the organisation. Examples could be real life staff achievements (which might even be outside of work) or positive changes you have made to processes for the benefit of the residents
  • If you have one, invite someone from Head Office they won’t know and ask them to share a bit about themselves and what they do.
  • Go over Safety and Evacuation plans to provide a sense of peace of mind.
  • Remind them of local and village events (upcoming Carols/pageants, Club celebrations, Community activities, Village Christmas planning, Bushfire planning sessions)
  • Add value – invite a relevant guest speaker, share knowledge about local services, allied health providers or a topic that is relevant to the village culture (spring gardens, volunteering, etc.)

Like the Maya Angelou saying, which particularly applies to working with communities, “Do the best you can until you know better, then do better”.

Good luck!

Reporting Results

Retirement villages not included in Royal Commission

You must probably have heard but we will confirm that the Royal Commission into aged care has not been extended to include retirement villages. 

This is despite a concerted push by the consumer advocacy Law Centre of Victoria and some state resident associations who hoped to achieve the appointment of an ombudsman in each state.

It is likely that submissions will be made to the Royal commission drawing in retirement villages combined with home care delivery but this will be a side issue.

Key things to help you everyday


Following our last issue we received an email from one village manager asking for advice on managing bullying.

Every village manager will face this issue at some stage – bullying between residents or bullying of the village manager!

It can be cancerous in a village and needs to be addressed quickly and responsibly.

Perhaps the most experienced village manager across Australia is Jodie Prosser (pictured) of Optimum Retirement Services; we asked her to share her wisdom.

Jodie has policies on everything but for brevity and guidance she prepared the following dot points:

  • Intimidation
  • Humiliation
  • Being treated inconsistently from others
  • Every decision you make is being questioned
  • Socially alienated
  • Verbal or written abuse (inappropriate use of tone or language or assertion)
  • Feeling of anxiety, isolation from/towards another person or groups of people
  • Unreasonable obstacles
  • Constant criticism

Do your ground work early

  • Build honest relationships with residents to prepare for a time when you will need to have harder discussions with some residents
  • Implement Village Values that clearly outline how all stakeholders within the village will act, be treated and treat others
  • Implement a clear Communication Strategy/Policy that outlines expectations & boundaries for how, when and what the village communication standards are between residents and management and between residents to resident
  • It is recommended that both of these documents can have important components implemented within the Resident Rules/By-laws, and be discussed during Resident Induction
  • Ensure that all staff are educated in these expectations and boundaries and refer or enforce them, as needed
  • Ensure that these are regularly referred to and upheld (They can be re-enforced at meetings, in Newsletters, and other written communications).
  • Practise consultative management when dealing with sensitive or controversial village matters “A type of management in which stakeholders are encouraged to contribute ideas towards identifying and setting desired outcomes, problem solving, and other decisions that may directly affect them.”

Take a stand – lead the change

  • Be the leader, be brave – after all you are the leader of this community and your intention is that all members of the community are treated with respect!
  • When dealing with a bully it is important to be empathetic towards the bully as well; after all in most situations there is something that has triggered this behaviour
  • Gather evidence of specific examples of bullying, such as reports from residents. (Be careful if using hear say; acknowledge the information may not be totally accurate)
  • Invite the bully to a meeting to discuss
  • In some instances, depending of the severity of the situation it may be good to have another person with both parties
  • Prepare for the meeting –ensure you have a sensible agenda and desired outcome in mind
  • Be honest, transparent, express that your role is to be the facilitator of an issue that is of concern to other residents/staff etc…
  • Be prepared to apologise if in some way you have contributed to the concern
  • Be prepared to have an open mind; be non-judgemental
  • Outline your observations, complaints/concerns and desired outcome clearly – again make sure you have specific examples
  • Make sure you check in with the other person to understand are there factors that are influencing their behaviour
  • Acknowledge and provide opportunity for them to openly discuss this matter
  • Discuss and describe alternate behaviour, communication expectations
  • At this point it is OK to ask for time to consider the situation further and commit to meeting again
  • Agree some mutual outcomes expected and commit to follow up the conversation
  • Document the conversation & diarise to follow up with them
  • Keep the conversations confidential
  • Don’t just address the issue once, follow it up, keep the discussion alive
  • Ensure actions or activities within the village are not allowing the bully to gain continual or maintain power, look to decrease the power of the bully by consulting with others, if appropriate
  • Bring in the professionals – mediators, Office of Ageing, Consumer Business Services or as a last resort, seek assistance from your experienced Retirement Village Lawyer

We hope you find this information helpful.

What other issues would you like us to ask Jodie to provide some guidance? Email back to us HERE.