Recently we sat down with the team at Programmed to chat about their longstanding sponsorship of the Village Manager of the Year Award, how the industry can continue to lead the way, and what they are looking forward to at the National Retirement Living Summit & Awards.
- Programmed has been supporting the Property Council’s National Retirement Living Summit and Awards for 9 years, and the Village Manager of the Year Award for 15 years. What continuously draws you to this event and Awards program?
The National Retirement Living Summit and Awards program provides us all the opportunity – as one collective body – to celebrate and acknowledge this industry’s important contribution, and in particular, that of Village Managers.
It’s extremely important to recognise the high degree of professionalism and quality of service in an industry that champions age-friendly independence and safe, secure communities. That’s why we proudly continue to support the award and, as far as possible, attend the Summit in person.
Even without the COVID curveball, Village Managers have had to effectively navigate change and growth in the industry that, especially in recent times, has been significant and exponential. Village Managers also cater to a diverse range of residents, and their requirements, which are widely different to those of even just five years ago.
Village Managers should be lauded for continuously, tirelessly, and courageously taking up the gauntlet even as they are pushed beyond their skillsets, pivoting to adapt to rapidly evolving landscapes to manage not just the village and its community, but also the broader environment, compliance, and now, COVID.
- Why is the Programmed Award for Village Manager of the Year so important to Programmed?
This Award is intrinsically aligned with our core values as well as our corporate purpose. The notion of community is key to retirement living villages which are purpose-built to provide social interaction amidst safe, secure, and well-maintained environments.
To realise this, Village Managers must practice personal safety leadership; care and empathy; customer service; as well as diversity, inclusion, and equality.
These are an exact match with Programmed’s core values, through which we strive to build outstanding people, strong customers, and great communities. Especially in this current situation, retirement living and maintenance are essential to helping people maintain the quality of their lifestyles. This award celebrates and recognises the positive outcomes manifested daily in people's lives when we practice these values.
- As a leading provider of operations and maintenance services across Australia & New Zealand, how can the retirement living industry build further to continue leading the way?
The industry will need to evolve to simultaneously meet the changing needs of residents while also anticipating that of future residents. Imperatives include technological savviness and operations with a keen sense of social and environmental impact. In this manner, the industry can align itself with what the next generation of residents considers important while being confident of its capacity to satisfy their lifestyle demands.
Automation, touchless technology, voice control through the cloud and mobile applications will need to be planned for if not already being integrated into new builds, upgrades, and refurbishments. The currently aggressive adoption of smart and voice technology among those who will in the next decade or so access retirement living facilities necessitates innovation, as do the changes in the current operating landscape.
Growth and change in the last five years alone have outstripped that of the previous two decades. Operators, and their partners, will have to instigate intentional, rather than incidental change.
In every aspect – from management, maintenance and procurement through to communication and the provision of care or support – the retirement living industry should already be shifting its processes and procedures in readiness.
The lifestyle on offer by each Village is its intrinsic competitive edge. Villages are looking for ways to sustainably achieve this. Choosing products and materials such as paints and fertilisers with low Volatile Organic Compounds, biodegradable weed poisons, and repurposing green waste as mulch are ways they can minimise their impact on the environment or health of residents. Others encompass the inclusion of recyclable materials in new builds or when refurbishing to retain an existing Village’s competitive edge. Preventative long-term maintenance programmes preserve and protect assets, extend their lifespan, and avert the need for unnecessary early asset replacement as a result of a lack of maintenance. These initiatives when undertaken continuously, add up. They save costs, minimise landfill due to decommissioned assets and benefit the community as a whole.
Naturally, pragmatic understanding and adaptation to comply with changing government and industry policy are needed, as is strong advocacy for collaboration and consultation. Continuous education and upskilling of those within the retirement living industry and their partners are other ways this sector can keep on moving forward. Through constant engagement and exchange of ideas, operators and suppliers can leverage collective knowledge and experience to develop opportunities, remove inefficiencies, and better operational functionality.
In doing so, they continue to lead the way.
- What are you most looking forward to at the National Retirement Living Summit?
It has been such a difficult two years for the industry and Village Managers and we truly look forward to being able to acknowledge the outcomes they have been able to attain. The Summit will provide us all a much welcomed and well-deserved break, where we can stop, reflect and celebrate one another. It will also be a chance to hear from industry leaders on how they have navigated the challenges as well as what future roadmaps may look like.
Like most people, at Programmed, we are definitely looking to being able to celebrate with the Retirement Living community.
- For any first-time attendees, what are your three tips to making the most out of the National Retirement Living Summit and Awards?
Engage in discussion; engage in the subject matter; and be fully present.
Engage in discussion. There is always a strong collegiate camaraderie at this event. With everyone attending having common intentions to exchange ideas, seek more knowledge, and of course, to network, you’ll quickly find common ground when engaging in discussion. It’ll help you make fast friendships as you find solidarity in shared experiences while benefitting from new wisdom.
Engage in the subject. This is the easiest way to make connections. If you have the opportunity to attend face to face, talking to others on topics that you’ve just heard in a session and asking for their views on that will quickly lead to all sorts of conversations. You’ll be amazed at how much you can learn and how quickly you’ll be able to connect.
Be fully present. Avoid the urge to constantly check emails or duck out for phone calls. Instead, fully participate by engaging in the content, the subject, and the conversations that can subsequently be generated. There are always new learnings you can take away from the event, whether you’ve attended for many years or if this is your first time.
As part of being present and immersed, do engage the sponsors. Like you, they have a genuine desire to engage and collaborate. Dialogues and the exchange of ideas between industry operators and partners or suppliers are important channels for broader perspectives. Don’t be afraid to seek them out!