Things to watch

He’s back! Matt Church opens the Village Summit…

Matt Church is welcomed back to open the Village Summit 2020 on Monday 10th and Tuesday 11th of August at the Sheraton Grand Hyde Park. 

Last year Matt opened our minds to new ways of thinking about the future skills needed in business.​

See a snippet HERE.

Matt is recognised by International Federation of Professional Speakers as one the top 21 most influential people in the leadership industry on the planet.

Matt is committed to helping people prepare for tomorrow by taking action today. His philosophy can be summed up in one word: NEXT! What is the best next thing you can do to future proof your business or career?

Believing powerfully in the idea that commercial success is best achieved by delivering value beyond expectations, Matt will investigate The Power of Leadership: How to inspire residents to live their best life, how to grow yourself and add value to your community.

Find out more about the Village Summit HERE.

What the research tells us

The Budget Process from a Resident’s perspective

Recently I had the good fortune to catch up with my good comrade Michael Jones, Chair, Resident’s Finance Committee.

I was keen to talk to him, as an accountant, about what does good financial management look like for residents? And thankfully Michael was obliging to share with me his thoughts from a resident’s perspective….

There was no surprise that the top of his list was regular and transparent consultation with residents DURING the budgeting review process, including them as part of the journey in the development of the new budget.

Don’t just preach the outcome and expect it to be accepted.

He suggested that the Village Manager can play a vital role in supporting the Finance Committee to identify those people in the village with relevant experience or past financial acumen that could benefit the Committee. 

He also offered the following tips:

  1. That operators and Village Managers, together, should undertake sound consideration for both the long and short term requirements of the village and share this review with the Finance Committee so as to provide long-term peace of mind about future financial provisions.
  2. The operator should establish sound financial management systems – not just to meet compliance matters but to also work towards best practice finance processes and systems.
  3. The operator as part of their financial management system should consider regular update meetings with their Finance Committee, this could be a short monthly meeting (catch up on recent changes, raise issues as they arise etc) and then a more comprehensive meeting quarterly to go through the financial statements together.
  4. Providing transparent financial statements on a regular basis helps to build trust between residents and the operator and reduce the unproductive time that it can take to locate answers to questions the Village Manager is not aware of.  
  5. Finally, the operator, particularly those where decisions are mostly made remotely, must include the Village Manager in all decisions that may impact a resident’s finances or the assets of the village. It is also a great idea that from time to time the remote accounting support team are invited to attend a meeting with the Finance Committee to ensure that an open dialogue and mutual understanding is maintained.

Whilst these may seem logical tips and actions, the resident association representatives and regulators continue to share with me that the majority of concerns raised with them relate directly to inadequate financial transparency or poor financial management systems. 

With time on your side, start the process early and consider reviewing your current process to include some of Michael’s suggestions. 

Things to watch

Tapping into the WizeNomads in your community…

This week Sydney Startup WizeNomads launched a grassroots movement to connect age-friendly employers with experienced people. 

WizeNomads is an organisation based on inspiring experienced people to find work opportunities and connect with age friendly employers. They promote multi-generational workforces and are the conduit between businesses and people via growing generational connections.

WizeNomads connect with pre-screened age-friendly companies, offer learning and advice to inspire confidence and new skills and they are starting to build a multi-generational community and network.

Find out more HERE.

They believe there is a plethora of hidden skills, wisdom and that mature persons in the workplace can have a positive impact on the nature of business. 

When I came across this it resonated with my lived experience. That as Village Managers we should be identifying, engaging and consulting with residents within our Retirement Communities that too may have a plethora of hidden skills, wisdom, connections etc that could be tapped into for the benefit of the village. There is a certain Chairman in a village I managed about a decade ago that very graciously taught me this lesson, you will know who you are Mr Francis if you are reading this.  

One thing is for certain a Village Manager’s role is very busy so if there are residents in your community with a skill set or speciality then I can highly recommend tapping into those skills to help you with research or another point of view. Good communication and consultation is definitely the key to great decision making in my experience.

Reporting Results

Village sales up!

Reports from the field by the likes of Stockland are telling us that retirement village enquiry, reservations and settlements are up, compared to this time last year, by 10 to 15%. Is this your experience?

Villages that have a clear ‘home care’ support offer are doing particularly well.

Omega Communities in Adelaide, which is two villages that offer ‘family care’ (like private aged care) is consistently running at 95% occupancy. LDK Seniors Living in Canberra, a new village, is selling two new homes a week at over $800,000 each. (They have close to 400 to sell by the way).

They call their offer the ‘One Move Promise’ – their home care support means you will never have to move to an aged care home.

Check their website out HERE.

For your village, having a clear relationship with your local home care providers will help your sales as well. It’s a good idea to have at least a folder of local services like physiotherapists and even cleaners that you can show potential residents. Simple but effective.

Strong sales lifts everyone’s spirits.

Key things to help you everyday

DCMI announces inaugural International study tour for Village Managers

 DCM Institute is excited to bring to its members an International study tour to New Zealand in July 2020.

New Zealand retirement village operators are internationally-recognised as being world leaders in this sector. Delegates on the Inaugural DCM Institute study program will visit a mix of NZ’s retirement villages and co-located care facilities in Auckland and Tauranga. Hosted by DCMI’s Director Judy Martin and NZRVA CEO John Collyns the program is open to DCMI Village Manager Professional Development program members.

Information on the study tour program can be found HERE.

Register your expression of interest HERE.

For information pls contact Judy Martin
E: or M: 0437 649 672

Latest industry developments

More than 1,000 villages register for the Retirement Village Code of Conduct – implementing now

The new Code of Conduct is gathering speed.

Close to 50% of all villages across the country have now started the process of building the Code into their operations. Is yours one?

The Code of Conduct was jointly created by the Retirement Living Council and Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) as an industry initiative to further build retirement villages as responsible corporate and community citizens.

In simple terms, the Code is a statement that retirement villages operate ethically and it has guidelines with checks and balances to support you to deliver a consistent, high-quality experience for residents.

You will find it will make managing your village easier. Word from the field is that residents, especially resident committees, are appreciating the structure the Code brings to operations.

It kicked off on 1 January and villages have 12 months to get the guidelines in place.

Two important steps are ongoing training of village management, which our DCM Institute Professional Development program has been designed to deliver, and a survey of residents every 12 months checking up on very particular areas.

We have just designed this survey for you and it will be released in the next four to eight weeks after we have tested it.

You can learn more about the Code of Conduct HERE.

Latest industry developments

Ageing in the right place – a retirement village?

Where do older Australians want to live? To make their home?

The Global Centre of Modern Ageing (GCMA), a grand name for the research unit at Flinders University in Adelaide, has researched 1000+ people over the age of 55, asking what they want in a home. The answer:

“A place where I am comfortable, safe and stress free. A place where I continue to age independently and to grow culturally and in experience. A place where I want to be.”

Sound familiar?

The research confirmed what we already know:

  • We desire to stay at home even if circumstances change or needs increase with age
  • We don’t plan for our physical ‘enablement’ to remain at home
  • Cost and location were extremely important in the decision to move
  • The balance between affordability and needs is a key challenge

And went on to say they had developed a framework known as the House, Home, Haven framework.

This model recognises we require a personalised approach to our individual solutions and we require a solution to have a humancentric approach.

The house provides safety and comfort and for some, is also a financial asset.

Bringing freedom, choice, independence, emotional safety, familiarity and individuality.

A sanctuary entwined with self and complete belonging. A seemingly irreplaceable ‘sense of place’.

It identifies seven distinct needs of older Australians:

Do you find yourself like me shouting “that’s us, pick me, choose a Retirement Village”. It’s obvious isn’t it?


25% of the people surveyed felt there was a lack of viable alternatives to living at home.

What the…. no viable alternatives are you kidding?! 

Don’t Retirement Communities provide all of this? 

Clearly we in the sector know this but why doesn’t the wider community?

GCMA went on to say the opportunities for businesses lay in:

1. offering a personalised service and offering

2. being able to offer genuine and honest support

(This what we do as professional Village Managers and genuine people).

3. being able to really communicate the value of the housing option

This requires work by operators – and ourselves.

Latest industry developments

State Village Management Professional Development kicks off in 18 days from now

Our 2020 DCM Institute PD days commence in Brisbane on 2 March, and then roll across the country.

All your surveys asked for more! So, you will see that we have increased the number PD days from three to four this year.

Some of the venues have changed because they couldn’t provide a big enough room. (After just 10 months, we now have 340 Village Managers enrolled).

For instance, we had 120 village managers at the Novotel Darling Harbour in Sydney last November and it was ‘squeezie’, so now we are at the five-star Hilton!

All the programs across each of the states and the speakers have been booked for the year as well.

Check out the program HERE. It’s not too late to join us.

And remember, if you are a Village Manager in NSW and you are a member of the DCM Institute, you, your operator and your village will have ticked the mandated training box for the new regs requiring compliance to the Rules of Conduct that commenced January 1st.

For all states, you will also comply with the voluntary Code of Conduct.

An easy solution plus delivering you great career development.

Hope to see you at a PD in March!

Key things to help you everyday

“Beware of little expenses; a small leak can sink a ship!” — Benjamin Franklin

Capital expenditure budget planning.

There have been many many lessons I have learned in my retirement community management journey over the last couple of decades but of the most important has been, taking a very planned and careful approach to capital expenditure budget planning.

It’s the only way to avoid the headaches and the potential of future embarrassment.

If you are under QLD legislation and need to abide by the Quantity Surveyor requirements or in NSW where the new Asset Management Plan legislation this will dictate some of these steps for you.

Whether you are preparing per contractual requirements of Capital Replacement Funds or internally for operator funding – we need to start early, being consultative and thorough to head off what can easily induce great pain!

This list of tips looks long, but much of it is common sense – but easily missed. When planning to review your Capital Expenditure budget consider:

  • Consulting internal stakeholders – finance, development, senior managers to understand if they have “projects” that you are unaware of that may impact the budget
  • Consulting the resident community – this could be via resident committees, feedback process, survey results, focus group morning teas. I know a couple of great organisations that hold a strategic planning morning with their residents every second year to gain clarity on where the residents see the village needs in five to 10 years.
  • Undertake a thorough inspection of the village – if you are not confident in undertaking this process, consider the services of a quantity surveyor or building inspector to assist
  • Review Contractor arrangements and suggestions for future works
  • Check for new legislative requirements – not just Retirement Village Acts requirements
  • Consider market trends and consumer expectations to ensure the village remains attractive and in good repair
  • Allow enough time to get multiple quotes for projects
  • Review the number of repairs carefully, especially in NSW, whether there are items that should be replaced
  • Consider staging plan options for major works
  • Check resident agreements and internal policy requirements
  • Check lifespan specifications for major pieces of infrastructure
  • Consider timelines: the requirements next 12 months, three to five years and five to 10 years
  • Review time – once you have a draft budget completed – consult again – allow time and be prepared to do this a number of times

Capital expenditure in our sector has often been one of those ad hoc, non-focus areas of the business as the accountants often view it as a non return on investment. 

However another great lesson is the better the village is maintained and the asset improved the happier the residents, the more referrals, the quicker the sales and the higher the price!  Win win…

Reporting Results

Retirement villages looking good at the Royal Commission

‘New thinking’ is emerging at the Royal Commission into Aged Care, and retirement villages are looking good!

The Commissioners have developed a model and specifications for housing and support for ageing Australians in the last 10 to 15 years of life.

Senior Counsel Assisting Peter Gray QC (pictured above) stated in Adelaide this week that there are eight key ideas proposed by the Commissioners on how the aged care system should be fundamentally changed.

The whole push is to get in early and support people years before they get truly old and frail.

Make their homes better to live in so they don’t have falls etc. Guide them to look after themselves better, and earlier, by having companionship, getting out more, getting ahead of illness.

The Commissioners want a supportive pathway for older Australians to age. They wish to separate accommodation and care as costs to the government and that care will start very early concentrating on wellness and reablement, for which the government will contribute funds.

Here is part of the list; I suggest you think how ‘retirement villages’ can deliver these services:

  • create a care stream for services delivered either in the home or in more flexible and less institutional forms of residential care
  • move to individualised funding for care matched to need within the care stream, irrespective of setting
  • streamline access to low intensity and cost-effective support services to support a large number of older people to retain their independence
  • (the government to) fund interventions to help restore functioning, provide respite and delay or prevent progression to more intensive forms of care
  • support older people and their families to understand the (aged care) system and get the services and care they need

Retirement villages provide separate accommodation. Village management can provide a ‘care concierge’. Villages can provide basic but good wellness centres – gyms etc.

Individualised funding is ideal for the retirement village sector.

Separate funding for accommodation and care is ideal for the retirement village sector.

An early ‘system navigator’ is ideal for the retirement village sector.

The role of the Village Manager will be vital in this vision, a genuine ‘value’ enhancement that will elevate it as a profession.

Exciting times.