Key things to help you everyday

Managing relationships with your residents the right way – a simple guide

As village professionals we’re privileged to actively participate in the daily lives of our residents.

Building these relationships is one of the best parts of the job.

But, it’s important to remember that we are in a trusted position with our residents. In the end of the day our role in their lives is a professional one.

There must be clear professional and personal boundaries with our residents, and these need to be recognised by all staff members.

Given the nature of our work and the fact that we get to know our residents over many years, it can be challenging to manage relationships in the ‘right’ way.

So, we’ve provided a few tips as a best-practice guideline for your village.

Friendly, but not familiar

A good technique to help staff understand these relationship boundaries is defining exactly what ‘A Right Relationship’ is in your village.

Keep it simple, as a statement about behaviour that can be reinforced in meetings and training.

Here’s an example you might use:

‘We will be friendly and fair, professional and personable, always maintaining respect for everyone in our community.’

A few things you should consider:

  • Be clear with residents about our role and its limits
  • Avoid disclosing personal information
  • Understand our professional obligations and comply with relevant legislation
  • Maintain privacy, confidentiality and abide by the resident’s rules

Acknowledge each resident as an individual

It’s no secret that some residents are easier to like than others.

But we can’t let this influence our behaviour.

We must demonstrate that we treat all residents equally, and acknowledge each resident as an individual.

And residents have responsibilities too

Like anything in life, these relationships are a two-way street!

Our residents should be willing to treat staff and their fellow residents with respect. If they’re not, it’s our role to make sure these expectations and responsibilities are clear. 

The key thing is to have a plan in place.

The DCM Institute covers this topic in greater detail in our Professional Development Program.

You can find out more here.

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Providing support when residents face the big decisions in life

“We don’t know, what we don’t know.”

This perfectly sums up the way our residents might feel when trying to tackle the significant financial and life decisions that come later in life.

Here are some typical questions a resident might ask:

  • Where can I get a Seniors Card?
  • Can I access taxi vouchers?
  • Is there a fitness class for older people nearby?
  • Who do I contact for government concessions?
  • What do I need to do to plan my will?
  • What is MyAgedCare and what do they do?

Having the answer to all these questions is almost impossible.

But we can give our residents access to information that is accurate and appropriate.

This gives them the power to make the right decisions, at the right time for themselves.

Making this information accessible, in a format that can be easily understood, is key.

Here are some ideas:

  • You might have a folder which has print outs or fact sheets about services
  • A poster with some key websites or agencies dedicated to older people
  • A village iPad which has links saved for easy access
  • Guest speakers giving presentations or one on one appointments
  • Newsletter articles on specific topics
  • Seniors card info showing special offers and discounts

Here are some useful websites you can use as a starting point:

As we’ve mentioned before, you’re not expected to have the answer to every question.

Letting our residents know where they can find the information to make their decisions is the best way to achieve a positive outcome.

Key things to help you everyday

Resident well-being is more than a full activity calendar

The people in our villages are likely to be at various stages of their later years, ranging in age from late 60s to 100, some fit and agile others more dependent and anywhere in-between.  

‘Well-being’ is the new buzz word, but what is it?

As a Village Manager achieving resident well-being isn’t about

  • Having the fullest activity schedule
  • The latest and greatest facilities or technology
  • Getting 100% of residents to village events
  • Working against illness and making sure they stay fit

What it is about is having a genuine interest in supporting those living in our community to lead the life they choose.

As Village Managers we have the opportunity to listen and respond, to be the link and facilitator of information.

This can be done in different ways:  

  • Village interest groups – cards, walking, tennis, bowls, Local interests/service,
  • Local community activities – life-long learning U3A, Local & State government activities, volunteering,

And then with more support type services:

  • Meal deliveries, independent aides, home care providers
  • Council services – transport,
  • Allied health services, GP centres

Having a sense of the right times to step in and step out is of paramount importance.

Resident home visits

A good village plan is to have a resident home visit policy in place.

The visit, which should be done at least annually or at times when significant life events occur (illness or the death of a partner) can be a valuable tool for the Village Manager in ensuring he/she is empathic with the residents in the village.

The visit doesn’t need to be complex and ideally as a minimum it would touch on

  • Checking up on how the last 12 months have been in the village.
  • Any maintenance matters the resident might like to raise.
  • Discussion around additional support requirements – home care, transport, meals
  • Connection with interest groups both inside and outside the village
  • Update of contacts and personal information

There are many benefits to the home visit. 

It allows you, as the manager, to support residents, and in some cases, you may be the resident’s only point of contact on a social front. The home visit provides an opportunity for both sides to reach out.

It generates ‘well-being’ for both the resident and you – through the satisfaction of fulfilling our roles well.