Retirement Living Executive, Person Centred Software
Jodie is a second generation retirement living professional and has deep passion for all things retirement living and community development. Having held both hands on and senior management positions in the Retirement Sector for over 20 years she has a vast experience base to draw on. Jodie was formerly the Business Manager for a national retirement village management company and was responsible for the wellbeing and satisfaction of both 160 staff members and over 6000 residents and has led a national team of 50+ village managers, plus led ‘village recovery’ projects, collaborated with state regulators and designed Village Management training courses in Australia and internationally.
Ageing into the future strategies must include retirement villages and operational technology.
The ageing population shift has highlighted the increasing demand for health and aged care services. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, over half (50.4%) of baby boomers (aged 55-74) reported a long-term health condition in the 2021 Census. As this generation represents a significant proportion of the population, retirement living can play a crucial role in relieving some of the expected pressures on the health and aged care system.
While there has been discussion about retirement living as a solution for housing supply and affordability, it is essential to recognise its role in maintaining the wellbeing of retirees and to acknowledge that seniors often invest their own funds in retirement living, rather than relying on government assistance. To maximise the sector’s ability to be part of the proactive solution to ageing, the focus should be on lobbying for planning systems that encourage investment in retirement housing and enabling residents to access their funds flexibly through programs like the Home Equity Scheme.
While previous research has concentrated on infrastructure, finances, and service delivery models in the retirement village sector, little attention has been given to operational models and the role of technology. Baby boomers are digitally engaged, with data showing that 78% of Boomers are on Facebook and spending around 1 hour 48 minutes a day browsing Facebook and Instagram. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that their expectations include digital access to communications and services. Additionally, we know that the workforce in retirement living, coming from hospitality, care services, property management, will also expect technology systems to support workflows, task management, record keeping, and data-driven decision-making.
Operators providing a wider range of services to residents will require operating systems that go beyond traditional methods like whiteboards, paper requests, emails, and Excel spreadsheets. Investing in a digital operating strategy becomes a crucial component of risk management in the retirement living sector. Lessons can be learned from the aged care sector, which was found to be lagging in the use and application of technology in the 2021 Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety findings.
With government support and investment, the aged care sector has undergone rapid digital transformation to improve service standards, enhance communication methods, and empower their teams. Retirement living operators, many of whom operate in both sectors, have taken note of these outcomes and express a desire for their retirement living village businesses to follow suit. Embracing operational technology can help the retirement living sector adapt to the evolving needs and expectations of residents and staff, ensuring outstanding service delivery and future-proofing their operations.
In conclusion, ageing into the future strategies must include retirement living operators prioritising digital transformation and developing robust information and communication technology strategies. Utilising digital platforms and technology systems is essential to meet the expectations of baby boomers and to improve operational efficiency in the retirement living sector. By embracing digital transformation, the industry can deliver outstanding service standards and retain a diverse and empowered workforce.