Key things to help you everyday

Mental health and your team – it’s a continuum, not a situation

We all have to be on our guard about mental health.

This month our DCMI webinar series finished with our speaker Samantha Young from Human Psychology, talking about supporting your team in crisis.

Sam tells us a recent survey, prior to the pandemic, found 20% of workers were experiencing a mental health challenge.  However, when their leaders were surveyed they were unaware of this. 

2020 has seen our sector challenged in many very different ways – whether it was the fires of the New Year, the pre-winter floods or the all-encompassing COVID-19 pandemic.

We all have been stretched out of our comfort zones in many cases on many occasions. This includes our teams. But there may be a crisis a team member is dealing with that we have not yet become aware of.

Another great insight Sam shared: “Mental health is a continuum with mental illness at one end and mental wellbeing at the other. Individuals can go back and forth on this continuum depending on the many influences in our life and not only the perceived crisis that we experience as a community.” 

Leadership, can be a lonely, isolating and stressful place. This is particularly true for village professionals who are constantly people facing, on call – some 24/7, sometimes caught in the middle, the first responder to emergency, the problem solver and often the person who has to deal with a large workload for long periods. 

So, there is no surprise that BURNOUT is common amongst village professionals.

Sam shared some great tips for reducing the existence of BURNOUT:

  • Good foundations – Diet, Exercise and Sleep
  • Reframing our thinking patterns to focus on the FACT and not the STORY we might be telling ourselves
  • Scheduling of regular downtime – leave, breaks, think time and social time
  • Reducing habits that may inhibit progress – excessive email and phone checking
  • Identify what indicators present themselves when beginning to feel yourself spiralling
  • Building a tool kit of responses in the event you feel a change in your mental health, such as asking for help, tactical breathing and priority identifying.

Thanks Sam!

Latest industry developments

ARVAS is building – and more assessors are needed

ARVAS – the exclusive accreditation scheme for retirement village and seniors housing operators – has a large number of villages registering to undertake accreditation.

It’s a single, unified scheme for the industry, developed following extensive consultation with resident groups, retirement community operators and the general public.

The idea behind accreditation is to continuously improve outcomes for our senior community. It is strongly based on the concept of creating a positive community that’s focused on sustaining a high standard of living for residents.

ARVAS was developed and is co-owned by Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) and the Property Council.

ARVAS also fits in the Retirement Living Code of Conduct, which came into full effect from January this year.

More ARVAS Assessors needed to fill the gap

With the increase in interest in ARVAS, QIP is also looking for more assessors to join their team.

Being a QIP Assessor is a unique opportunity to see new ideas and innovative solutions, and to offer mentorship by showing villages how to transform with sustainable change.

Being trained as an assessor to accredit retirement villages and communities against an industry set of standards (ARVAS) is a unique opportunity to support village management, staff and most importantly residents.

Auditing the safety and quality of services involves conducting interviews and observing the village’s processes and procedures and considering whether these can be enhanced.

Improvement opportunities and recommendations can be offered by the assessment teams as part of the accreditation report provided to the organisation.

A commitment to assessing can easily fit in with your current professional and personal life.

Assessors are required to complete a minimum number of two assessments per year and there’s no requirement to ‘give up’ your current role.

QIP’s portal allows self-nomination for upcoming assessments to suit both your availability and travel preferences of staying more local or opting to go further afield. Travel, meals and incidental costs incurred as part of an assessment are covered AND you get paid for your time!

To express interest please email the QIP team directly at or via the QIP website.

Key things to help you everyday Things to watch

“The borders are opening, the borders are opening”: are you prepared?

The reopening of Australia will be really great news when it actually happens, but for us in Village Land there will be some unexpected challenges.

The Prime Minister wants all restrictions lifted by Christmas (and Christmas Eve is just three months from today!). We expect many residents will want to travel and many friends and families will want to visit.

We do know that we will have to be on our guard, so it is best to be thinking about it now.

For instance, COVID is likely to still be lurking, with ongoing low infections regarded as an acceptable risk for letting the country get up and going again.

Here are some things we brainstormed that we all should be thinking – and preparing for.

  1. Will you see an increase in interstate visitors in the village? 
    • Will they be allowed to stay in the village?
    • How will your existing residents react to more visitors?
    • How will your staff feel with the likely increase in visitors in and around the village?
  2. Will the extra visitors impact your current screening and contact tracing activities?
  3. Will your staff be wanting annual leave now they are able to have a holiday or visit family?
  4. How will you deal with the difference of opinion between residents?
    • Some may be OK with interstate visitors filling the village; some may not be OK with this?
    • Do you need to consider any new processes?
  5. What about the extra caravans?
    • They are likely to be parked around the village for more regular loading and unloading
    • Are you likely to have more caravans new to the village if residents who used to travel overseas are now considering more local travel plans?
  6. Are residents likely to want to become part of the house swap community and if so, do you have a policy to deal with that?
  7. What if a visitor staying in the village is found to be positive?
    • What is your organisation’s response and business continuity plan for this?
    • Will you allow them to remain in the village or will you rehouse them?
    • What extra resources/approvals might you require?
  8. Are you likely to have residents asking you for advice as to whether or not they should travel? 
    • What will be your organisation’s response?
    • Could you develop a guide to help them navigate the new local travel era –connect them easily with local trip options, travel advice, cancellation policy norms insurances, government health advice, etc?
    • What to do if the borders start closing?

As this situation changes and evolves so too does the need for our policy & procedures to evolve with the changing environment that might impact the way our communities once operated.

Key things to help you everyday

Now more than ever it is vital to have a peer network… FREE – Join the DCMI Peer Network!

Much like border restrictions the retirement village industry is changing and evolving every day.

This is why it’s so beneficial to have buddies who are travelling the same road as you, to compare notes and talk things through.

At the DCM Institute we are committed to building this network of buddies, mates, professional colleagues alongside you in every state.

Our DCMI Peer Network is open to everyone – if you are a DCMI Member or not – including customer facing roles or head office roles.

With new legislation, industry frameworks, consumer trends, workforce challenges, service offerings, external influences of the pandemic, the list of things going on is endless.

It’s a lot to take in on your own.

That is why now more than ever it is vital that you remain connected to a group of likeminded peers to share experiences, learnings and sometimes even just validation that you are on the right path.

In many ways it’s a mental relief valve.

You can be welcomed at the October network meetings by clicking here.

Key things to help you everyday Things to watch

Village customers stronger than ever, despite or because of COVID

A number of Village Professionals have reached out to us to ask ‘how is the market going’ for retirement village sales.

We asked our colleague Carmella Rowsthorne at what is happening and she delivered the above graph for the 13 months from September last year to September 2020.

It shows that last year in September just under 3,800 people searched for a retirement village each day on

This September, the same number of people are searching.

Numbers are actually up

But here is the thing. Victoria accounts for 35% of the Australian population and they have been in severe lockdown since July. They have not been able to even think of looking at villages let alone sell their homes. It was basically illegal.

So when you add this into the mix, you have to say the average number of people looking seriously at a village option has gone up in 2020.

The only changes have been multiple crises. Fires, drought and now COVID.

The family home is no longer as safe as it was last year.

Have you been receiving a higher level of enquiry? If not, perhaps you are not listing your village on With 1.2M visits a year it is the No.1 village search destination.

You can find out more from Carmella by emailing her at

Key things to help you everyday

Volunteering – staying busy and finding purpose in challenging time​s

Mental health has been one of the big themes in our conversations with village professionals this year. When you consider the year we’ve had, it’s hardly surprising.

Time and time again village professionals have expressed concerns about the mental health of members of their communities, and this has made us think about our own experiences in villages.

For us, the happiest people in villages were always those with a sense of purpose.

This can come in many forms, be it caring for a pet, managing a communal veggie patch, participating in a club or even helping out a neighbour.

But another route that is often overlooked is volunteering.

Volunteering linked to mental health

In the July 2020 issue of Greater Good Magazine, Elizabeth Hooper identified a link between volunteering and mental health.

“New research suggests that volunteers aren’t just helping the communities they serve. People who volunteer actually experience a boost in their mental health,” she said.

While there are some initiatives that can’t be undertaken during a pandemic, many organisations are offering opportunities to volunteer remotely from home.

And these are perfect for staff or residents who could use a pick-me-up!

Friends For Good offers friendly ear to listen

A great example we’ve recently become aware of is the Friends for Good program.

Friends for Good is a Not For Profit driven by volunteer to help fight loneliness with a FriendLine, which is basically a phone line anyway can call for a chat.

This is a great option for villages – not just for potentially lonely residents, but for staff members who’d like to volunteer their time to help someone in need.

You can learn more about Friends for Good here.

Staying busy, finding purpose

A busy village is a happy village.

In our experience that has proven so very true.

If you have a resident or staff member looking a little lost and lonely our advice would be reach out, discover their interests and suggest they get involved in something they enjoy.

Volunteering isn’t the solution to every problem – but it can be a great way to find joy and a sense of purpose in these challenging times.

Key things to help you everyday

Death and Dying – an important topic to get right

This month at the DCM Institute, we’re focusing on the topic of Death and Dying.

It’s an issue many of us may deal with in our roles, and a difficult one to broach.

For us, there are two key elements:

  • Awareness of end of life law
  • Acknowledgement that everyone deals with death in a different, personal way

The importance of knowing the rules

Kylie Harding from business management firm Critical Success Solutions shared some insights in the presentation ‘End of Life Innovation’ from our September webinar series.

For Kylie, a knowledge of end life law is essential.

While you don’t have to be an expert, knowing the basics, or at least where this information can be found, is key to managing difficult conversations.

“It reduces your risk of providing the wrong advice or sharing misinformation, and improves your communication with families and their substitute decision makers,” she says.

“When disputes arise, it’s often because people misunderstand the law. Knowing the law gives you a foundation so you can say I know about that, or I know where to get the information.”

Kylie also shared some valuable organisations and resources you can find on our Industry Links page.

An innovative look at end of life

Another tool that’s crossed our paths recently is the YourLifeTalks App, and it can be a great way to gently broach difficult end of life topics.

YourLifeTalks basically works on the principle that everyone has a story to tell.

By encouraging users to share their life stories and values, it provides a natural segue to important discussions about future choices and wishes.

Questions are posed around two conversation topics:

  • Your Life Story’

    Questions about the important events that shape our lives – childhood, first job, meeting a partner, having children and travel, through to the influences along the way that add texture and colour to who we are, and what we value.
  • ‘Your Life Wishes’

    Questions that address our future ageing plan. Topics covered include making a Will, Powers of Attorney, Advance Care Plan or Healthcare Directive, a life-limiting illness, moving into an aged care home, life support, organ donation, funeral arrangements and memorialisation.

The Kiwi Coffin Club

And here’s proof that everyone’s approach to end of life is different.

The Kiwi Coffin Club is a community group like no other – they build their own customised coffins!

Every coffin is decorated to reflect the life of its maker, and is a much cheaper option than commercial coffins which typically start at $2,000.

The Kiwi Coffin Club even created a mini-documentary, filmed in the style of a musical, to showcase their work. Take a look here, you’re going to love it.

Key things to help you everyday

Location, location, location – why finding the right home for your village listing is so important

Filling village vacancies is one of the most important jobs for village, marketing and sales professionals.

Without direction this process can be inefficient and expensive.  

Our sister company offers a comprehensive hub to link vacant villages with potential residents.

We’ve discovered plenty of things along the way that help inform this process.

Here are four things to consider:

1. You need to be able to find the right people

There’s no use having an ad on the Gold Coast if your village is in the Hunter Valley.

Destination is a key driver for potential residents, so having a platform that lets you market to specific regions is crucial. This is why offers 87 regions across Australia.

2. You need to put your best foot forward

Potential residents like to have a good idea of what your village looks like, before they commit.

So offers strong image and description options for every paid listing. provides listings with the chance to feature a 3D Virtual Tour, which delivers approximately 30% more leads. There’s a great example here.

3. Tracking and stats

Transparency is also important, and you want to be sure you’re advertising with a platform that gives you bang for your buck.

This is why regularly supplies everyone who’s been listed with updated statistics to see how their village ads are performing.

4. A trusted home

Moving into a retirement village is a big, sometimes expensive, exercise for potential residents.

So it makes sense that your village is listed on a platform people recognise and trust. has established itself as a trusted knowledge resource for people looking for retirement villages with videos, articles and an Info Centre to support people in the journey.

Listing your village on a trusted platform builds authenticity and increases the chance of a sale.

For more information on listing villages, contact Head of Sales Solutions Carmella Rowsthorne here.  

Latest industry developments

Property Council Award Finalists announced

The DCM Institute team would also like to acknowledge the wonderful contribution of all those who dedicate themselves to a career in this sector.

The Property Council of Australia’s Retirement Living Council has released the detail of the finalists for the National Retirement Living Awards this month.

I was honoured to be nominated as a judge in this process and was humbled by the dedication, passion and initiative shown by the finalists.

And we’d like to extend a special mention to the DCM Institute program participants and their organisations who have been nominated as finalists:

  • Jodie Shelley, Broadwater Court (Living Choice Australia)
  • Sarah Robinson, Bankstown, Kankama, Yagoona, Mirrambeena (Uniting)
  • Kelvin Lloyd, Veronica Gardens (Aveo)
  • Glynis McEwan, Glengarry Village (Masonic Care WA)
  • RAAFA Meadow Springs Hall Refurbishment Project (RAAFA Western Australia)
  • Bethanie Esprit Retirement Village Cottages (Bethanie Group)
  • Lendlease Remember When (Lendlease Retirement Living)

This is a great acknowledgment of dedication to communities, sector and career and we look forward to walking beside you and sharing your progress in this wonderful sector.

Congratulations to all finalists.

You can find a full list here.