Things to watch

Village Vibe Contribution By Vicki Neilson, Village Manager, Elliot Gardens, Port Elliot

Three years ago, I  introduced a ‘Girls Night In’ candlelight dinner for the ladies living at Elliot Gardens, Port Elliot. It has been a great success and still continues today.

This event raises funds for women’s cancer, an average of $1,000 each year. However importantly the ladies have a terrific evening. The Elliot Gardens team provide their time to assist with the setup, food preparation and they also run ‘games’ before and in between courses.

And I do all the cooking and I am NOT a professional chef by any stretch of the imagination! Eight male residents wait on the tables and bar and then we do it all again next month for the ‘Boys Night In’ dinner, the ladies will wait on them!

Things to watch

Ageism – it happens to us all

Recently a friend of mine shared a book with me that provided food for thought on how we meet the needs and expectation of the future consumer as Retirement Community professionals.

That includes the language we use, the activities we encourage and the service model we provide. The biggest takeaway for me was further confirmation that our service models in villages must include consultation and respect for individualism.

Whilst much of our focus slants towards the positives we know Retirement Villages provide, we sometimes forget about the unintended consequences such as a lack of intergenerational contact and residents becoming focused on village life and not on their wider community. 

Ashton Applewhite’s book explains the roots of ageism—in history and in our own age denial—and how it divides and debases. Whether you’re older or hoping to get there, Ashton will change the way you see the rest of your life and help you break some old habits.

If you are like me and are time poor consider watching her TED Talk HERE.

Even better if you like what you are hearing, perhaps consider seeing her in person on her Australian tour.

Latest industry developments

Village Manager Regional Meets taking off for DCM Institute

Over the next six weeks, eight Regional Meets by Village Managers are taking place across the country. See the dates and locations opposite.

Any Village Manager or head office staff can attend for the cost of a gold coin.

Regional meets have been created by our DCM Institute to support Village Managers in the field.

Each meet is staged at a retirement village so local managers can network and exchange local knowledge and coordinate local promotion of retirement villages.

Our DCM Institute portal provides the Secretariat service to establish the meeting and promote it to local Village Managers.

You can register HERE for any of these regional meets or to set up your own.

What the research tells us

Consultation is more than just a Resident survey or a letter of information

I recently came across this great Community Communication and Listening tool developed by the District Council of Yankalilla, authored by Community engagement specialist Becky Hirst.

It is a great roadmap on all the things we could do.

I have often said running a Retirement Community is like running a District Council and in an age where consultation is a given, we too as Village operators are looking for more innovative ways to engage with our Village communities.

I am not suggesting we need to strive to do all of these things but I thought by providing you the list you could think about whether there are some strategies in this menu that you could add to your own menu as such.

No surprise, I particularly like the “Back of the Ute” chats, the informal and impromptu chats that help Village professionals keep their ear to the ground. 

The Working Group – involving residents in decision making, planning for the future, engaging their expertise and interest and Pop Ups – ensuring that not all your interaction with the community looks the same but adding diversity to the types of activities to encourage a range of residents to engage – could be moving the location, having a BBQ instead of morning tea, invite a guest speaker and just being present, mixing it up!!!

Over the summer holidays I am going to have a go at making a menu for myself – if you do make one yourself, I would love you to share it with us!

Key things to help you everyday

Village Culture – is it a thing?

Earlier this year Jo Marshall (pictured) from Culturise joined our Professional Development program participants to deliver a session on Village Culture. We grappled with the question – Can a Village Manager impact upon village culture? And why would they want to?

There is no question that each village has its own culture. The challenge is how we describe it, and maintain and sometimes improve it. 

Jo shared “Culture put simply is ‘how we do things around here’. At an organisational level our culture is demonstrated by our behaviours. In turn our behaviours are defined by our shared values. In groups we carried out a fun activity called ‘what makes a happy, healthy village”. 

Our attendees were divided into groups and brainstormed to come up with as many descriptors as possible.

The strongest themes were – care, fun, community and respect. Jo posed the question: What if you were to do an activity like this with your residents? Why not ask them what makes a happy and healthy village to them? The results will give you some great foundations for continuous improvement and an opportunity to get to know each other better.   

Human connection is one of the most important ingredients in happiness. Activities like this will help you create an even better village culture – without too much effort!

If you’d like to try this in your village please feel free to email Jo HERE to obtain more detailed templates and ideas. Culturise are experts in creating great cultures and supporting practical leadership.

Reporting Results

Policy and procedure — keep it simple

Many of you may be feeling overwhelmed at the thought of having to be ready to undertake what’s needed to achieve the Code of Conduct or ARVAS requirements.  

The best advice I can give is to have a plan, tackle the job one step at a time and document the way things need to be done.  

The POLICY should be the standards you set for your village.

The PROCEDURE will set out how you will achieve those standards.

Here are a few tips to help:

  • Identify the categories of operations within your village, eg. property, finance, human resources 
  • List for each category the policy, procedures, tasks and decisions associated with each category (Suggestion — check your last month’s calendar for tasks you do regularly as a starting point)
  • Use the Code of Conduct and Accreditation standards as tools to develop a Gap analysis (Suggestion — the ARVAS standards can be be downloaded as a great starting point without you being registered in ARVAS) 
  • Consult with your team
  • Consult with your residents’ committee
  • Prioritise what needs to be done  
  • Decide on a timeline and outline your weekly/monthly actions ​

And the best piece of advice — DON’T overthink it and DON’T be afraid to ask for help!


Reporting Results

Village Vibe —Sometimes a simple cuppa and smile is all it takes​

The residents from War Veterans Home Retirement Village Myrtle Bank, SA are making the most of their new on-site café.

Village Manager RSL Care SA, Terri Wood says, “The residents love the café, it’s a great place to people watch and chat all whilst enjoying a nice cup of tea.” 

Please send us in a photo and a few words highlighting what makes your village smile.


What the research tells us

Helping veterans with their specific needs – what can you do to help?​

With veterans’ needs highlighted at this week’s Royal Commission, I want to provide you with some resources that have helped me support veterans on their ageing journey.

If you, or a resident, is struggling with veteran-related issues there are organisations out there that can help.

The Anzac Centre’s clients are primarily veterans, but they can help family, friends and those supporting veterans, so don’t be afraid to contact them if you find yourself struggling with veteran issues.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is a great place to get practical advice on what veterans are entitled to.

In most states, the RSL office also has veteran advocates.

Peer support programs, like those run by Open Arms Veterans and Family Counselling, have been very useful, they can arrange for an advocate to visit your village and meet with residents and managers.

Veteran advocates have also been useful in providing information for village newsletters and on occasion as guest speakers.


Things to watch

The next VM professional development day isn’t far away​

The next workshop for the Village Manager Professional Development day will focus on some of the areas we’ve touched on in this newsletter. 

Guest speakers will provide information on dementia, elder abuse, Code of Conduct, ARVAS, accessing care, and much more.

We encourage Village Managers to take advantage of the next workshop in November, but remember, members have access 24/7 to tools in the online portal to help make your day-to-day tasks easier.

Contact Judy Martin here for more information.​

Things to watch

How are you coping with dementia issues in your community?​ Here is a great tool

Dementia cases in Australia are on the increase with 1 in 10 over 65-year-olds showing some signs of dementia – this will likely impact your village community. 

The DCM Institute is proud to support the Virtual Dementia Tour™ tool being championed by Churches of Christ in QLD.

The VDT™ helps raise awareness and educate staff to be more empathetic and compassionate when engaging, communicating and delivering care or services to people living with or supporting those living with dementia.

The VDT involves a 10-minute immersive experience, followed by a facilitated 30 minute debrief by a qualified certified trainer.

Churches of Christ has partnered with Leading Age Service Australia (LASA) in the national distribution of the Virtual Dementia Tour™ which is exclusively licenced to CofCQ.

If you would like to experience VDT or know more about the product please contact or call 1300 970 733.