Key things to help you everyday What the research tells us

Do your residents struggle with the Digital Age? Here is a ‘village’ solution

It will be no surprise to you that many village residents struggle with the internet, and this makes life hard for them to just do things in the community.

Richard Scenna, co-founder ofYour Link, shared with me recently statistics from the 2020 Australian Digital Inclusion Index

The statistics highlight that people over 65 remain amongst the least digitally included age group in the country.

The research also reveals a pattern of diminishing digital inclusion, as age increases – particularly in relation to access and digital ability.

He went on to share that this same cohort had indicated in their recent survey, that 80% of people said, if they didn’t possess digital skills they felt locked out of essential services:

  • Government agency services
  • Online payment solutions
  • Public safety alerts
  • Online shopping/delivery options
  • Telehealth, and
  • COVID 19 related activities such as QR codes and digital updates. 

You can learn more in the related article from Richard here – Despite good intentions, seniors are left behind with digital progress.

Feeling locked out

Many also feel locked out or in the dark, like digital social engagement, connection, belonging, learning and entertainment. 

There is email, SMS, messenger groups, event registrations, Facebook pages, etc…

Once upon a time a phone was just used to call people!

A little help and knowledge can go a long way and, in my experience, programs delivered by third party providers, also go a long way to helping village professionals move their communities into the digital age. 

YourLink can bring digital education to your village

This is where YourLinkcan assist and a great service I have used for residents in the past.

I recommend you contact the team at Your Linkif you are wanting assistance for your residents with the digital age.  Some of the areas they provide are:

  • Bespoke digital coaching (1 to 1)
  • Employee/volunteer/carer digital literacy so they are able to assist others
  • Seniors’ digital literacy in groups (virtual or face to face)
  • Hearing & technology training events
  • Investigation of grant funded digital literacy solutions
  • Co-design digital literacy programs

Results of these programs show clear increase in digital confidence and participation.

For more information and to see how they may be able to help your resident communities, click here: YourLink – Digital confidence and support for older Australians

Key things to help you everyday

Why a Social Media Strategy has to be on your 2022 Marketing Hit List?

With the average Australian spending 88 hours per month online, it should be no surprise to find that one of the biggest cohorts using social media is the baby boomer.

Research shows, the baby boomer is primarily infatuated with Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest.

Recent data from IAB Australia indicates that during COVID lockdowns, digital news consumption increased over 38%.  While digital consumption of real estate related content, increased by 44% in the last 12 months.

These facts should leave you with no doubt, that a village social media presence must be part of your village marketing strategies moving forward.

Don’t sell. Educate first

Whilst there is a temptation to sell, sell, sell that no matter the platform used, when it comes to marketing, the professionals warn of this strategy on social media.

Judi Carr, Director, Content Republic, shared with DCM Institute members at this month’s webinar the golden rule of social media marketing is to EDUCATE first & SELL second.

She explained the role of social media should be primarily to increase brand awareness and develop trust in your brand.  It is only then, you have the opportunity for the audience to engage with your brand and then, you have the opportunity to sell to your audience.

Around the country this month, we heard the biggest road block to successful social media strategies, is the need for the ongoing development of content.

How to create social media content 

Judi had a great recommendation when starting to build content and to follow a create, curate and syndicate approach. This is best explained as:

  • Create – create original posts
  • Curate – add some commentary to others posts, relevant to your audience
  • Syndicate – simply share others posts that add value to your audiences’ interests

Creating content doesn’t need to be difficult.  Some easy methods in helping contribute to your marketing teams content plan is to adopt the following: 

  • Always be on hand with a camera to capture those great resident moments around your village. Don’t forget to share these with the person managing your social media
  • More stories of engagement in your community shows it’s a happy place to be
  • Develop a social media resident sub-committee and have the residents share their ideas and capture content
  • Add it to your team meeting agendas to share anecdotes and ideas
  • Consider having the team repurpose existing content (from websites, brochures, newsletters & videos)

A couple of other golden rules when you are starting out on the social media journey:

  • Be authentic,
  • Be consistent; and
  • Ensure that all interactions are in line with your communities positioning and values.

You may even want to suggest if resource is a factor, to consider outsourcing to a professional like Content Republic to build your strategy and content

If your keen to know more, this month’s webinar is now available in our Knowledge Centre.

Key things to help you everyday Village Operator

Helping your Residents & Families understand the transition to aged care

The transition from independent living to aged care can be a difficult and uncertain time in your residents’ life.  You will be faced with many questions from their family and friends as well as the residents themselves:

  • Mum isn’t coping on her own – what can be done to help?
  • Judy hasn’t come to any activities for quite some time – is she ok?
  • Asking the village team to help with the shopping
  • Difficult behaviours
  • Other residents’ concerns
  • Your own observations
  • Guilt, fear and time stress are the prevailing emotions.

As the Village Manager, you will be faced to having those hard conversations and, in some cases, dealing with.

Our sister DCM web site is designed to educate and support all people about the late ageing journey.

One of the things we like most is this video, which explains the feeling of guilt, the time it takes to set up residential care and the essential Nine Steps.  It’s called ‘Precious Time’.

Check it out and let your people know it is there. Over 60,000 people visit every moth.

Key things to help you everyday Village Operator

Emergency planning – it’s not all about bushfire – but it is about a plan

Often when considering emergency planning in villages there is a tendency to focus on fire, and in particular bushfire.

How would your village, and importantly your residents, respond to any of the following events?

  • Gas Leak
  • Gunman on site
  • Live electrical wires
  • Flood
  • Explosion
  • Medical Emergency
  • A sewer flooded your village; or
  • Natural disaster that may leave your community without power, water or phone access

In my time in villages, I have had to deal with ALL of these emergency situations, and often remotely.  So, I have learnt the importance of having robust and regularly reviewed emergency plans in place that go far beyond having an evacuation diagram on the wall in the community centre.

Easy ‘must do’s’

It is not hard to prepare the basics of an Emergency Plan, and you will feel so much better when you have built the bones because you now will not be caught out at a time of stress.

Ideally your Emergency Plan should address:

  • Emergency contact details for key people who have specific roles or responsibilities under the Emergency Plan, for example fire wardens, & staff
  • Contact details for local emergency services
  • A process for alerting residents, for example a siren, whistles, telephone calls and door knocking
  • Evacuation procedures including arrangements for assisting any hearing, vision or mobility residents
  • A map of the village illustrating the location of fire protection equipment, emergency exits, assembly points
  • Triggers and processes for advising neighbours who may need to respond as well
  • A post-incident follow-up process, for example notifying the regulator, organising trauma counselling or medical treatment
  • What should be in and where should an emergency steel box be located with high vis vests, torches, battery operated radio, first aid kit, manuals, instructions, updated resident phone list, etc and where should it be located?

After the emergency

In my experience you should also consider adding information that addresses: 

  • What is the process to communicate with residents it is OK to come back to the Village?
  • What plans need to be actioned in the event the power, phone or water is to be cut off for days?
  • What is the relocation process in the event the home or homes are not habitable or accessible?

WH&S, legislation, ARVAS and insurance

Having an Emergency Plan, engaging with it and reviewing it is not only a Work Health & Safety requirement for your employees, it is also a new requirement of the NSW Retirement Villages Act and a requirement of the ARVAS scheme. 

It may also be a requirement or expectation of some insurance policies and of course would be seen as sound governance and risk management by your Board.

If you have not started this process, I would recommend you engage with an industry professional such as ESGA or First 5 Minutes, who both presented at our September Professional Development workshops. 

They are not only familiar with the requirements of emergency plans but also the idiosyncrasies of Retirement Villages.

However, if you would like to get a head start or review your current plan perhaps use this great emergency plan fact sheet tool checklist from Safework Australia as a guide.

Emergency Planning is a topic in our September PD days.  Keep an eye out for the recording of our recent webinar in the DCMI Knowledge Centre, available at the end of the month.

Covid-19 Key things to help you everyday

The ongoing impact of COVID is real….for residents and you

In nearly every reach out in our customer care calls to DCMI program Members over the last month there has been deep concern for your resident and team mental health. 

With Sydney well into its tenth week of lockdown, Melbourne on lockdown 6.0 and other states never knowing when the short snap lockdowns may occur, we are hearing more and more stories of exhaustion, worry, despair, anxiousness, and so many more feelings coming to a head.   

Real COVID impacts

These stories, rightly so, often start with concern for resident mental health as village professionals listen to resident’s sharing:

  • The impact of lockdown on their own physical health
  • The inability to connect with others
  • Unsure of when they may see family and friends   
  • Missing important milestones
  • Challenges of speaking & listening through a mask 
  • Not being able to give or receive family support
  • Missing that personal touch; and  
  • In some cases the ability to attend or continue with medical treatments/reviews   

You have shared with us the obvious and visible signs these impacts are having on resident mental health.  

How COVID can impact you

On top of these concerns, you are juggling the added worries about COVID coming into your village, keeping up with the ever-changing restrictions, implementing new legislative requirements whilst managing COVID and trying to have a plan to address the increasing non-essential maintenance that has had to be delayed. 

We have seen increased feelings of isolation, managing constantly changing and differing resident expectations, and of course your concern for residents declining during this time. 

Your oxygen mask

Hearing these stories reminded us of all of the great support tools that are out there to help support your residents, your teams and so very importantly yourselves. 

You will know the old saying “you need to put the oxygen mask on yourself before you can help others” in my experience it is so true.  

There are some great resources out there to help in these times and here are a couple that come to mind:

Perhaps check out the great advice and tools available at Beyond Blue specifically the webinar below developed for Retirement Village residents and teams, which we had some input.

There are also a number of great tips from The Black Dog Institute in dealing with the impact of COVID on mental health in this article –
10 tips for managing anxiety during COVID-19 – Black Dog Institute  

Or perhaps schedule sometime to grab a cuppa and reach out to a colleague (even if you have to do it on zoom). Chances are you are both feeling the same way and sometimes a problem shared is also a problem halved…  

We are thinking of you.

Key things to help you everyday Latest industry developments

‘Mediate, before it escalates!’: specialised Seniors mediation service launches

Ever wondered if you could call in a mediation service to break the ice? Now you can.

As we recently reported in The SOURCE, three industry experts, with combined 50 years industry experience, have unveiled a new mediation service for Retirement Villages, Manufactured Home Parks and Aged Care Facilities. 

Senior Living Mediation (SLM) aims to provide practical, cost effective and efficient dispute resolution solutions for operators, park owners, residents and homeowners throughout the country. 

“At SLM we share a genuine belief in the benefit of community living and a desire to help create and maintain harmonious communities,” said Aileen Stewart, SLM’s codirector and founder. “Mediate, before it escalates! is the catch cry of SLM and it could not be more true”. 

“SLM has facilitated the resolution of several long-running disputes in Queensland and New South Wales, reaching a successful resolution in an under a day,” said Ms Stewart. 

SLM’s practical mediation solutions are in keeping with values and principles of the Retirement Living Code of Conduct and are conducive with the ‘facilitative mediation’ model. 

Pictured: Senior Living Mediation’s lawyer Danielle Lim, Complaints Specialist in Land Lease Communities Gillian Moore and former TriCare Operations Manager Aileen Stewart

Key things to help you everyday

Burnout in Village Management

This week our DCM Editor Lauren Broomham penned a very important edition of SATURDAY, focusing on Burnout across the Age Services sectors. 

Of particular interest was the article on Burnout in Village Professionals. If you aren’t a subscriber to SATURDAY you can read the full article here

At DCMI stories of burnout, and worries about staff burnout, is something that is shared with members of our team on a regular basis. 

It is something I have spent considerable time pondering the solution. I know it would be naïve to think there is a one size fits all solution. The solutions are many, and will vary from village to village, operator to operator.

Below I have shared just a few for consideration:   

  • Opportunity for frequent uninterrupted breaks from village responsibilities  
  • Additional resource support for establishment of new process, regulation, accreditation compliance etc 
  • Providing clear policy and procedure guidelines 
  • Solutions for ageing residents and resident behaviour management 
  • Extra customer relations/administration support in larger villages 
  • Technology solutions for communications and operations
  • Regular senior executive visits to villages  
  • Reasonable pay for effort 
  • Clear authorisation/delegation guidelines, and
  • Of course, my passion – ensuring Village professionals participate regularly in professional development and industry networking opportunities  

However, I do believe there is something as a sector we can unite on: “ACKNOWLEDGING THE VALUE & IMPORTANCE of VILLAGE PROFESSIONALS” not only to the village, the team, the residents, our sector and importantly society!    

“You can always tell a good Village Manager by the way the village smiles at you as you enter”. 

After all they are responsible for the first impressions at the village gate! 

Key things to help you everyday

Is your village information safe?

Last month when I was in New Zealand, the news of the day was how three public hospitals had their digital systems and patient information hacked, staff were effectively locked out of their digital systems and the Government were potentially being held to ransom.

This got me to thinking about the various digital solutions I have seen around the country in villages and what would the impact be to a village if suddenly their digital system was hacked, they were locked out, the resident information shared publicly or even worse held to ransom.

Only two laptops safe

It also reminded me of an experience I had at the LEADERS SUMMIT in Adelaide in March where the ComwireIT General Manager, Nathan showed us on his laptop that there were about 140 devices in the conference room but only TWO of them were secure, the rest leaving themselves open to a potential cyber threat.  

Cyber attacks can:

  • Cause significant downtime for your business
  • Expose your intellectual property to the public or your competitors
  • Expose your client’s private information to the public
  • Require submission of a Notifiable Data Breach to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner

All these things can have a dramatic impact on your day-to-day operations, your brand and depending upon your internal support systems can cost serious money to rectify.

Simple questions

Nathan also asked us a few questions:

  • Where is your data stored? If on a local server, do you complete regular backups?
  • Do you have a Disaster Recovery plan?
  • If it’s stored in the cloud, is it based in Australia or offshore?
  • Who has access to your data?
  • What type of authentication do you have to access your systems?
  • Does your IT roadmap address all these variables?

Nathan clearly saw the shock on our faces and shared with me a few weeks later the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) Essential Eight mitigation strategies to reduce exposure to a cyber-attack:

  • 3rd Party Application Patches need to be managed to reduce the risk of security vulnerabilities
  • Operating System Patches need to be managed
  • Daily backups are a must
  • Application Whitelisting/Anti-Virus management
  • Configuration of Microsoft Office macro settings
  • Review user application hardening
  • Restriction of administrative privileges
  • Implementation of Multi-factor authentication (MFA)

Now if you are like me and would like to know some simple solutions for your workplace, click here to download ComwireIT Cyber Security ‘Keep your workplace safe’ checklist

Alternatively, if you would like to take it a step further to obtain an audit of your digital environment or add to your IT Roadmap, contact ComwireIT.

Key things to help you everyday Things to watch

Carers in your village: understanding, support and a policy

While many of our residents move to a village to continue living a full and independent life, their needs and capacity often change as they get older.

For some, the changes occur slowly, and for others, their health and wellbeing deteriorate more rapidly.

Regardless of when they happen, these changes are usually unplanned and result in the need for initial support until formal assistance or services are established. 

Delays in accessing services, reluctance to address needs and the long wait times for Home Care Packages, all contribute to the increasing reliance on informal carers.

Carers and complexities

In our communities, we see the benefits of the vital role that carers play in the lives of our residents, but we also see (and may need to manage) the complexities when the carer is a spouse, family member, friend or even another resident!

We see couples where one person cares for their spouse, and then the carer becomes exhausted or unwell.

Residents become reliant and often a burden on good-hearted neighbours or residents, with the best intent, take up the role of carer for a neighbour and then withdraw their support as they are unable to manage.

Then we have family members who become full-time carers and want to be a live-in carer or, alternately, those who don’t see the need for support or care and are happy to let the Village Manager pick up and do what they can for the resident.

Yes, as Village Professionals, we see it all, and it can be overwhelming for us too.

So, what can we do?

The best strategy is to have some established policies or guides that your Management Team endorses.

Develop a policy for carers to live in the village should the need arise considering:

  • Approval on a case-by-case basis
  • Evidence of medical / GP support
  • Rights of residency, voting, parking
  • The obligation of the carer to abide by the Village Rules
  • Residency ceases upon vacation of resident and consider the termination obligations of the contract and legislation
  • Documented approval rather than a contract addendum

You can also refer to agencies who specialise in carer support:

Carers Australia –

Promote services available for older people and their carers:

MyAgedCare –

Act now; don’t wait

It is always best to develop a policy when you are not under time pressure or you already ‘have a situation’, when raising new policy guidelines can be misconstrued to being in response to one case.

Preparation of a simple document to start the discussion with your Management Team and possible the Residents Committee is a great first step.

Key things to help you everyday Latest industry developments Things to watch

Welcome to Year Three for the DCMI Village Management Professional Development Program

Thank you for supporting us!

What a huge achievement by the DCM Institute team to be moving into our third year with consistent and growing participation in the Village Management Professional Development program.

We are all very proud – and appreciative – especially with the significant impact of COVID on DCMI participants and the need to restructure the program to deliver workshop days online.

We had to ensure you continued to receive great value, professional development and new opportunities to feel connected to the wider industry.

Sally boosts participant support

Six months ago, we introduced a participant care service to our program to ensure that participants continue to be well supported.

Sally Middleton joined our team to fulfil this role and she has conducted over 250 individual participant check-ins to support our participants achieve their learning goals.

Sally has also onboarded or provided portal refresher sessions to over 140 participants, and supported over 20% of participants to find the information they are looking for either in our online portal or on industry-specific websites. 

Jacqui boosts sales and leadership

Whilst COVID put a temporary hold on the face-to-face workshop days, the DCMI team continued to innovate. We engaged Jacqui Perkins to lead Retirement Village specific Sales & Leadership interactive masterclasses. 

Jacqui brings fresh concepts – always important with sales. The feedback on these masterclass sessions has been great and we have seen a number of sales consultants join the program to access these masterclasses and the valuable information available on the online Knowledge Centre portal.  

Face to face networking is back

However, what we are most excited about is we are heading back to Face-to-Face activities! Village network meetings have already been held in SA, NSW, Vic and soon to be ACT, WA, QLD & TAS.

Even better, we return to Face-to-Face workshop days in June. 

The DCMI team will return to the capital cities to conduct these valuable Professional Development workshop days. We are so looking forward to getting back to these sessions and the added value of the shared learning we get to share together. 

Please join us; please invest in yourself

If you are interested in joining the VMPD program, please register here.