Redefining duty of care

The need for innovation and alternative ways of thinking have never been more important than in the situation that the retirement living industry finds itself in today. 

Fresh off the back of Australia’s most catastrophic bushfire season on record, Australia is now 
amid a global pandemic. COVID-19 has transformed the way in which retirement operators run their business. 

These transformations have consequentially brought about the need to innovate. 
Changes to food provision, the supplying of personal protective equipment and alternative forms of entertainment

The health and well being of staff and residents has seen retirement communities rally to work together. 

Ms Natalie Burns from 
retirement operator Stocklandaccepted the NOVASAward for Retirement Living Innovation at the National Retirement Living Awards in 2019, for their entryServiced Apartments Home Care Brokerage Model

Ms Burns as an industry professional with experience prior to the bushfires and COVID-19 in retirement living innovation
, was available to give her thoughts on how the industry has innovated.   

“The Retirement Living 
industry had to quickly innovate and find new ways to provide services and well being resources so residents can stay connected and feel supported.

“We’re adapting quickly to the changed landscape with innovation pilots that will continue to provide new opportunities well after COVID-19 has passed.” Ms Burns said.

These claims ring true industry wide, as retirement operators have collaborated, cooperated and created to ensure that not only does the retirement living industry protect its most important asset, the residents, but it can take these lessons and changes into the future for positive progress. 

It hasn’t just been operators that have needed to innovate during COVID-19, Ms Burns remarked that “Many of our residents have themselves been innovating – finding new ways to socially connect via zoom happy hour sessions, driveway catch-ups and a variety of outdoor or balcony exercise sessions – all while maintaining social distancing of course.”

COVID-19 has assisted in giving retirement villages an even clearer purpose and role as a critical piece of social infrastructure. 

“The COVID-19 crisis has reinforced the why for the retirement living industry. People across the country are experiencing social-isolation and a great deal of uncertainty.

“There’s a sense of security and safety for residents in our villages, knowing familiar faces who understand their needs are on hand to help.” Ms Burns said. 

The heightened sense of community that has been created 
as a result of COVID-19 is something that can be attributed to the innovation and alternative solutions to care that retirement operators have created during this period. 

“The village teams and our residents have a special relationship built on trust and there is a lot of comfort 
and peace of mind for our residents to hear a friendly voice, give a wave to their village teams and neighbours – even from a distance.”

These positive changes and necessary innovations are a testament to the retirement living 
industry. The way in which there has been consistent cohesion and sharing is indicative of the shape that the industry will take when the world begins to return to normal. 

“The support from our industry peers and the Property Council of Australia” Ms Burns said, “has been amazing as sector operators come together to share information and learnings during the crisis.”