Focus On the Things You Can Control – and Be Innovative

August 29, 2022

A great lineup of speakers at the RVA/NZACA conference last week. Thanks to the organisers and sponsors for putting on a great industry event. The conference opened on Day 1 with a very interesting presentation from Richard Hinchcliffe representing ANZ, one of the gold sponsors. Annual surveys carried out by the bank revealed a big drop in optimism over the next 12 months compared to the year before, although as Richard pointed out, this didn’t dent the longer-term outlook that operators have for the industry.

Richard spoke about focusing on the things you can control during periods of uncertainty. Respondents to the ANZ survey identified four key areas of focus:

• Better community management and engagement

• More independent living

• More care out in the village

• Improving their social media marketing

These 4 areas of focus are all closely linked and can be simultaneously improved with the implementation of modern technology. The development of more independent living, for example, requires greater investment in community management and engagement. That’s because bigger communities take more effort to organise. Engendering a strong sense of community through regular communication and social activities becomes more difficult as the village grows. Handling thousands of bookings a month and printing thousands of newsletters can quickly become unsustainable if you don’t have systems in place to automate and streamline the processes you embedded when the village was smaller.

Without a strong focus on community management and engagement, village growth can undermine the sense of community that attracted people in the first place.

As villages grow, operators must also be prepared, and well equipped to deliver care where people are. People want to grow old in the independent villas they first moved into, and this can be hard to manage when you have a lot of older people in independent living.

Developing intermediate levels of care, supported by modern technology with telemonitoring capabilities can give residents and their family peace of mind without them needing to move into the care centre. These new generation care services enable operators to scale up care for independent residents at relatively low cost with reasonable margins.

When these technology innovations are embedded early in the development of a village it is possible to grow the village without some of the problems that beset operators who rely on staff to do everything manually. Not only is this inefficient, but it can negatively impact staff morale, contribute to high staff turnover, and fail to provide the sort of community experience that residents expect.

By investing in innovative technology to enable proactive engagement and care within your community you will transform the culture of the whole organisation and your residents will become your best salespeople – even on social media!

Having the right culture is essential to the success of any business and, as the next speaker Sir Ralph Norris was at pains to point out, it comes from the top. The decisions made by leaders set the tone and create expectations for staff. He referenced the example of Air NZ in the early 2000’s when they made a cultural shift in their business from flying planes to flying people.

During his excellent presentation, Sir Ralph said, “if you do not keep up with the latest innovations in your industry you put your company in peril.” Retirement villages leaders should take note and think about where they will be innovating next for the benefit of their people – both residents and staff.

Thanks to everyone we chatted to at the conference. We look forward to seeing you again next year.

Please get in touch if you want Spritely to simplify village management and improve community engagement.