Education & Training:
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The many faces of village retirement
The many faces of village retirement
Bruce Cullington, Acacia Cove Village, Manakau
“I hold a NZIM diploma, am a chartered secretary and a qualified real estate branch manager.
Most would describe my leadership style as a cross between charismatic and participative. I have a fairly strong personality, am naturally gregarious and life to the fullest. I am also passionate about everything I do and this tends to rub off on people around me. My biggest strength would be my ability to communicate with people at all levels and to make them feel special. I place a lot of emphasis on working with our residents’ and social committees to ensure that we have a wide range of activities, and this makes our village extremely vibrant and a positive place to be.
I consult as and when necessary, but do not over-consult as I have found that most people have more confidence in a manager capable of making a decision. With staff I seek their opinions and consult before making decisions affecting them. I am also keen to see staff develop and have engaged a life coach for two employees and a motivational speaker for others. I continually up-skill by attending external courses and industry forums, as management techniques are continually changing.”
Denise Te Tai
Was there a beginning??
When I was approached to write an article regarding my journey from nursing to village management I really had to sit down and think, as I don’t believe it was a calculated or planned career pathway that I consciously took. In the days prior to the Act or the Code if you were in a village that had some licence to occupy units, you managed them – in much the same way as you managed the care facility – it was not rocket science and the residents were content as being treated as one – how times have changed!
I suppose during the journey I have grown into the role and in many ways developed the position as I believe it should be. Obviously you must have business acumen and an understanding of budgets; however, your greatest strengths lie with an understanding of the older person, patience and, most of all, time management.
I was showing people around the village recently (sales is yet another skill that is required) and was asked what is like to manage a village. My reply was, “Do you have grandparents?” “Yes” was the answer. “Do you have a bank manager that is constantly watching you?” “Yes” was the answer. “Then times your grandparents by 300, and then throw in your bank manager in the mix, and that nearly explains what is like to manage a village.”
Ensuring you have the right staff is very important as it is with any management role. Henry Ford had the right idea when he wrote “I am looking for a lot of wo/men who have an infinite capacity to not know what can’t be done.”
For me leadership is simple:
Walk beside people, not ahead of them, to gain loyalty and understanding from them.
There is no such thing as ‘can’t’, just ‘how’. Flexibility is a must and caring attitude essential.
Communication is very important. Residents need to know what is happening in their home, good or bad; ensuring they feel as if they are heard and are included in decision making where appropriate is vital.
Support and empower your residents to believe in their own ability, regardless of how little or great, to enable them to enjoy the quality of life that they have earned.
Village management is a great job; never are two days the same and it is great to have the feeling that you have made a difference at the end of the day. Woodrow Wilson had it right when he said, “You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.”
Mike Flattery: Pacific Coast Village, Papamoa
Mike retired as an officer in the New Zealand Army in 1989. Since leaving the army, Mike has held management appointments at Massey University, Manawatu Rugby and Orewa College before joining the retirement industry in 1999.
“My previous managerial experience provided me with the people skills to manage a retirement village. Being an army officer in particular provided the necessary skills of leadership, logistics and accounting processes that are important in most managerial roles. This experience also provided the necessary skills to react to a raft of different situations, urgent or otherwise, that arise on a daily basis within most communities.
The most effective staff groups tend to be those that act as a team. It is therefore important to gel the staff into supporting one another to form that valuable team base. In regard to residents, I tend to put myself in their position and ask the question ‘what would I want out of living in this village?’ and I treat everyone with the respect that I would expect after all there is not too much age difference between the residents and myself.”
Donna Prince, Selwyn Heights Village, Hillsborough
“All managers have their own techniques, as not all training can be obtained from text books – especially in our industry. You need to really understand and work with your residents to find out what makes a successful, happy village that everyone wants to be a part of. In my opinion, working in a village with (and on behalf of) older people who have a lifetime of experience is a great honour.
My management style is to be caring and supportive, fair but firm when the occasion requires. I endorse the open-door policy, which conveys a more friendly, welcoming approach. Of course, time is precious, but when someone has a concern or needs assistance, it’s important to make the time to help resolve their particular issue.
I show respect, not just to my residents, but also to my team. We are a group of multi-skilled people who all share reception duties, sales, activities, outings, welfare checks and even lesser handyman tasks! I acknowledge everyone who goes that extra mile. Being customer-focused, having a listening ear and wanting to be a part of our unique environment are all essential attributes in this business.
Selwyn Heights Village is characterised by its friendliness and down-to-earth approach, but it also offers the style and elegance that today’s retirees are looking for. Within an ever-changing legislative and consumer landscape, I strive to keep my team up-to-date with current developments and to provide regular training to ensure that all regulatory compliance is met and customer satisfaction maintained.
To manage a retirement village, I believe you should share your experiences, attend manager forums, learn from others and endeavour to implement a programme of continuous improvement in all areas of your work, as well as in your own professional and personal development.”
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