Village Voice: December 2019

End of a Decade

As 2019 ends and a new year, and new decade begins, I reflected back to where we were in 2009 and our goals and dreams for the coming years and re-read some older village voice covers from that time.
Our big goals were:

  • Completion and opening of Parkside
  • Installation of solar panels through the Government incentive program
  • Resolution to the teething issues with the new phone system
  • Demolition of the North Hostel area to make way for the Lodge redevelopment
  • Demolition of units in Manning to make way for the first stages of redevelopment
  • Building to commence on the firsts of new units in entry 2
  • Continuation of the fence from entry 6 to 2
  • Reduce our impact on the environment through better recycling of resources

      Our departmental goals were

  • Our Independent units will continue to provide affordable housing for retired people
  • Our Daycentre will touch the lives of many people in the community
  • Our Manor will nurture our frailest friends in the evening of their lives
  • The Lodge and Hostel will continue to grow as one unit
  • Homecare will share in the lives of thousands of families in our community enabling them to stay in the family home as long as they wish
  • Administration will hold all of us together, united in commitment to providing high quality care, accommodation and service with Christian values.

It is reassuring to see that our big goals were all achieved and in most cases exceeded. The Manning redevelopment is well over half way completed, the phone system includes internet services at a rate cheaper and faster than anywhere I have ever seen. The Lodge redevelopment was completed and the former Hostel became apartments. The fence was completed and gates were later installed adding an additional level of security and the recycling bins were rolled out throughout the Village and Aged Care Facilities
Our affordable retirement living units are now located on two sites, the Day Centre is accredited and continues to provide more services than the funding requires, we have grown our Homecare Packages from 13 to over 80 and our long term Administration team and Board continue to provide support as the Company grows, changes and adapts to new regulations and requirements.
It is my hope that by December 2029 we will have

  • Completed the Manning redevelopment
  • Completed redeveloping the Grant Centre Site
  • Rebuilt Administration to accommodate the expanding Community Care department
  • Increased the overall number of independent units across our sites ensuring more people have access to affordable retirement housing
  • Commenced redevelopment of the older units at the East end of the Village
  • Commenced redevelopment of the Manor and Lodge which will be approaching the end of their useful building lifespans.

As always, achievement of any goal requires a combined effort across the organisation, with everyone focused and united in our commitment to providing high quality care, accommodation and service with Christian values.
On behalf of the Board and Staff, I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and safe and happy New Year.
Kim Jackson, Executive Manager

Village Voice: October 2019

October Update

I am writing this column after coming back from a farewell BBQ for our handyman Rob. I was really fortunate to be able to share lunch with the Maintenance team and enjoy the laughs and stories they told. As I arrived I said hello to Noel, the subcontract electrician who has worked on our site longer than Village Baxter as a company has existed and I was reminded of how the Village has been a consistent presence in the lives of so many people for so many years.

As I looked around the room it was lovely to see that amongst our current staff, there were familiar faces of past staff who had retired but still feel connected to the Village and come back to share in friendship and these special occasions. I have not heard of this happening in other companies and we are really blessed to have such a great team of people that all work together to ensure the Village is something to be really proud of.

Open Day is a wonderful demonstration of how we do all work together for the collective benefit, and as we do our best to work through the Open Day planning, it is also a reminder that we all look at life through the lens of our own experiences. For each of us this provides a difference perspective and finding common ground on a daily basis is one of the challenges in an environment of 300 staff, 900 Residents and thousands of community care clients.

I know that all staff, myself included, are capable of making mistakes or decisions that don’t please everyone, or sometimes not always being at our best for reasons that often go unspoken or unnoticed. Those of you who were at the September Residents meeting in the Chapel may have noticed my voice slightly trembling as I spoke about safe driving and reporting your concerns about unsafe drivers, I may have even seemed a little ‘rattled’ about what appears to be a common topic that is raised on a fairly regular basis, but there is context for that. This week, one of our maintenance team, a young Dad just doing his job, was nearly hit by a speeding Resident driving on the wrong side of the road on a bend. I know that I am particularly sensitive to careless driving incidents because for a number of years, I have been the sole carer for two boys whose mum died in a car accident, this shapes the way I think about safe driving and workplace safely. It’s all about context and recognising that sometimes decisions or outcomes can be influenced by issues that we are unaware of.

Even when we don’t all agree on all of the issues, Village Baxter continues to be a great place to live and work, and a source of comfort and stability in an ever changing world. As we move out of what has been a bleak long, winter I hope that you enjoy the blue sky, sunshine and fresh spring air.

Kim Jackson, Executive Manager

Village Voice: September 2019

Maintenance and Repair of Private Equipment

Each time I have to replace a piece of equipment (most recently my washing machine) it seems the new one is more complicated and needs “extra” things. Unfortunately this is a common issue for all of us. Recently we have had a number of requests for maintenance to attend to issues that relate to personal equipment.

The following are a few examples that I am hopeful will assist everyone’s understanding where the boundary between private and Village maintenance falls.

Resident’s own washing machine broke down:
This is not covered by your service fees and you need to arrange your own repairs. At our Village in Frankston we are responsible for the water pipes and taps but you are responsible for what you connect to them.

Internet not working
If the problem is with the Network or a fault with the modem we have supplied then it is a Village Baxter issue and often requires subcontractors to resolve these major problems and they attend as soon as possible and this is a Village Baxter maintenance cost. However if the problem is with your computer, your computer settings, if you turned the wifi off by mistake, your smart TV won’t pick up Netflix, the modem that you provided yourself is not working on our Network, if you pressed the “reset” button on the Village Baxter supplied modem, or if your grandkids spilled juice on the keyboard, then the cost of service and repair is a private expense and not covered by your service fees and you will receive a bill for this service.

Common Garden Spaces
These are maintained by Village Baxter and Residents are not permitted to plant into them. This is particularly important in areas bordering our wildlife corridor and remanent bushland areas as these areas are protected and people interfering with them could be subject to Council penalties. It is important that we maintain safe, efficient and affordable grounds and gardening services and this goal is complicated when Residents extend gardens into common areas around units without approval as it impedes the natural flow of lawn mowing and reduces the quality of the cut when the mower is forced to divert around unapproved areas. This can then create some uncomfortable and expensive conversations for Residents as the unapproved garden area has to be removed and restored at the Resident’s expense.

I hope that these simple examples assist you in knowing who to call if an issue arises.

Annual General Meeting of Residents
The Annual General Meeting of Village Baxter Residents will be held on 24th September 2019 at 10.15 in the Village Chapel. The Annual General Meeting of Rosebud Residents will be held on 26th September 2019 at 10.30 in the Community Centre. I encourage you all to participate in the election of your Resident Committees. The Committees having an important role in representing all Residents in their communications with Management.

I hope by the time this goes to print that Spring has sprung, the weather has turned and we can finally enjoy some blue sky and sunshine.

Open Day
Plenty of work has gone into open day again this year and we think that there will be something for everyone – even if it’s a sausage sizzle or face painted! Please encourage your family and friends to come down and see both Villages with Baxter on 12th October and Rosebud on 19th October (conveniently a week apart to enable people to see both Villages).

Village Voice: August 2019

August Update

The last couple of months have been extremely busy with the Aged Care Royal Commission creating heightened anxiety throughout the industry affecting some families and staff working in the industry. Concurrently, the Government is also introducing a range of risk and compliance processes that impact upon the accreditation standards, medication practices and governance systems all of which have created additional pressures on staff to meet the requirements of their roles.

The amount of work that has been achieved over the last few months is monumental, although largely unseen, as we do our best to ensure that the daily life of Residents is not impacted by these tasks and this is achieved by the gentle nature of the way we manage change throughout the Village whilst still meeting the often strict time frames imposed upon us.

One of the changes that was released affects the Income and Assessment forms required to be completed by those people intending to enter care. Thankfully in a slightly reduced format than the previous 146 questions. Equally, the Government has continued to try and make the MyAgedCare website more user friendly, with mixed results. On the other hand, the process used to lodge death certificates has been computerised causing all sorts of delays for families as they work through their loved one’s estates. Whilst change is intended to improve a situation or existing process, there are often consequences that were not considered.

In the last 12 months we have created 3 positions whose primary purpose is to ensure that the Resident experience of life at Village Baxter is the best we can achieve. Pam and Marianne, our Resident Services Coordinators in the Lodge and Manor spend the vast majority of their time ensuring that the Manor and Lodge Residents experience the best service we can possibly provide to meet their needs. Julia, our Retirement Living Manager is focused on ensuring that our Retirement Living Services are the best we can deliver within the resources we have available to us.

I have learnt over the years that it is impossible to please everyone, and sometimes we will have to manage issues in ways that will disappoint some groups to ensure that other groups have their needs met. We simply try and do the best we can to balance often competing objectives. The disappointing part of the process is the subsequent misinformation that travels around the Village and we would always encourage any resident who is troubled by a rumour or purported ‘fact’, to come and discuss the issue and we will sort out fact from fiction. Whilst this may be time consuming, it is far better to have peace of mind on an issue.

Village Baxter has a well established Resident Committee structure and process, which allows us to all have a say and we may agree or disagree on various issues. The Rosebud Residents Committee was so impressed by the VBRC structure that they adopting a similar process. In September at the Annual General Meeting, nominations will be called for new members and I encourage Residents to participate in this process. A robust Resident Committee that represent the collective views of all Residents at the Village is an important part of what makes Village Baxter the wonderful place that we all enjoy.

I started this column with the Royal Commission, then moved to Government and finally to the Village. The theme that is consistent across all three areas is that none of us are perfect, but we are all committed to doing the best we can with the available resources.

Stuart Shaw, General Manager

Village Voice: July 2019

Taking Control of Your Future

The seminars that we hold in the Village to share information about transitioning from independent living into community and aged care are always popular and help Residents prepare for their future needs. Recently we have seen an increase in Residents needing care who don’t have the financial and care approval paperwork in place and this has meant long delays in being able to move into the Manor or Lodge. In some cases this has meant that people from outside of the Village have been able to move in ahead of people within the Village community because their paperwork was not ready when needed.

The good news is that the “Cost of Care Forms” – the very long Centrelink Assets and Income Assessment that determines what a person pays towards their accommodation costs and their care costs is changing and the process has been made much simpler. These new forms are expected to be released by the Minister any day now. Centrelink or DVA pensioners who already have their financial assets and income known by the Government will now have one simple form to complete to provide details of their property– in our case, for most residents that will mean providing details of the equity they hold in their Village Unit. Pensioners who do not own their own home, such as renters, will not need to complete a form at all and will be able to just call Centrelink for an assessment to be sent to them. There is a separate, more detailed form for Non-pensioners to complete as Centrelink will not have their financial details on file. 

Recent history has shown that the current timeframes from posting the completed form to receiving the final ‘cost of care’ letter from Centrelink are around 6-8 weeks. Although forms are usually only valid for 3 months, it is a simple phone call process to renew them, so we are encouraging Residents who feel that they would like to be well prepared to complete their forms as a kind of “insurance policy” so if and when the need arises, they can just call for an update and this will ensure they will not have any delay for admission into an aged care facility.

As always, I would encourage anyone with assets over $49,500 to get some advice BEFORE completing the forms because it can be beneficial to fall below the asset cut off levels ($49,500 and $168,351) that are used in the formula to determine eligibility for Government support to contribute towards some, or all, of your accommodation costs.

Our Retirement Living Manager, Julia Boyd, and our Village Nurse Team Leader, Judy Alaimo, will both be at the Health Expo in the Clarke Centre on the 16th of July to answer any questions you may have on the process to move into Aged Care.

Please make the time to have these conversations with your families so you are well prepared and supported if your needs change in the future

Kim Jackson, Executive Manager

Village Voice: June 2019

Service Fees, Outages,
& the Election

Our Village Hostesses, being the front office for our ILU residents, have received a number of comments on the service fee increase for this year. As we tried to explain in the service fee letter, last year’s fees should have increased by an extra $10 per month from our increased costs, but this was offset by the receipt of the one off discount in water rates paid in previous years. This simply resulted in delaying part of last year’s increase to this year. To put this into context, our water rates in 2017/18 were around $55,000. For the last 12 months, we were charged $166,000 – a 300% increase in 2 years!   

Even with that increase, the test that we use is based on our service fees as a percentage of affordability for a person on the single aged pension. In 2017/18, our service fee increased by $10 a month, and the pension (with allowances) increased by $40 per month. Likewise, over the last 12 months, the pension has again increased by $40 per month whilst our service fee has increased this year by $28.

Whilst we take no joy in advising residents of a significant increase, the only thing we take some comfort from is that our service fee continues to be less than 30% of the pension and unlike many other Villages, our service fee includes contents insurance, Council Rates and 24 hour onsite staff.

Two weeks ago, our phone / internet / email carrier, AAPT, had a major outage from Victoria to Southern Queensland. Naturally this would occur on a Friday afternoon. The problem was finally identified on Saturday with one of their major cables being cut on a secured building site. According to the updates that were provided to us, they were trying to access the site to work on the issues and also considering relaying the cables around the site. Eventually a heavy drilling team, cable deployment team and cable splicing team were required to lay new cables and finally on Sunday around lunchtime, the service was again up and running. It would be true to say they had a lot of unhappy customers- including us!

Whilst all of the major carriers have suffered from the same or similar problem, it does make you wonder how bullet proof are these systems and what can they do to further secure their networks. 

No doubt, some residents will criticise us for not advising residents as to what was happening but all we knew was that it was down. You naturally expect something this major will be fixed in a timely manner, but it took some time for the network provider to identify the issue. On Saturday morning when we knew more, we placed a notice in our Community buildings as to what was occurring as best we knew and updated our social media pages to ensure that Residents who check our facebook and twitter pages (and there are a lot !) could see what was happening. This was the best we were able to do on a weekend with both phones and internet unavailable to us.

Then the following Friday (of course) we had another outage affecting only some residents. This time the problem was ours as one of our computer cards had burnt out. Fortunately, we were in the process of replacing that card, but it did mean that our technicians worked throughout the night to restore services to all affected residents. We are extremely grateful for their commitment to the Village to do this. I was advised on the Saturday afternoon that they believed all was now working normally.

I live in hope that the next few Fridays will be uneventful!

Finally, a couple of words on the election. An interesting outcome and certainly not the predictions that were being made beforehand. If you look back over our history, our elections are usually reasonably close – mainly in the range of 47% – 53% for each of the major parties.  This is a relatively small range so the result is always affected by the more marginal seats in every electorate as to how their constituency perceives the Government of the day. As always we will work with both our local member and the Government of the day to raise issues of importance to the Village and Aged Care. We trust that the Government will be able to look after the interest of all Australians and ensure that together we can advance the country.

Till next month

Stuart Shaw, General Manager

Village Voice: May 2019

The Federal Election

There is a lot happening in and around the Village as we move towards a federal election. Both major parties seem to be offering a variety of additional services and programs and assuring us that key services will be affordable in the future (such as energy).

From my perspective we simply need a stable Government that will focus on the long term best needs of the country rather than short term expediency to get elected. Is this possible under our current system of three year terms, maybe not. Is it possible under our adversarial parliament – not certain. We are told that the theatre of question time is not representative of the actual working of parliament, and there may be many issues where the major parties are in agreement for the direction the country should take. Whilst it is not obvious, based on the news reports, I do believe that it is not as bad as presented in the media.

Voting is compulsory and there are a number of avenues to vote:

  • At the polling booth across the road at Mt Erin College on the 18th May
  • By postal ballot, and application for a postal ballot should have been received by residents over the last week.  You need to complete the application for a postal ballot and one will be sent to you.
  • By pre-poll early voting stations that will operate from 29th April. A list of these locations will be published shortly on the Australian Electoral Commission web page.
  • A polling booth will be available on site on Wednesday 8th  May for our Lodge Residents (9.00 – 11.00) and Manor residents (3.00 – 5.00). A polling booth will be available at the Clarke Centre between 12.00 – 2.00 however this should only be used by those residents who have difficulty in using any of the other options.

Voting for a Government is a privilege that many countries do not have and is a hallmark of our democracy.

There were couple of interesting topics discussed at the last Resident Meeting that are worthy of reporting.

Firstly, a question was raised on external people belonging to some of our recreational groups. Our view is that people who are on a waiting list to enter the Village or Rosebud Village residents should be invited to participate in our various groups (Bowls Club, Croquet Club, Craft Group, Snooker Group and other similar groups). The participants will pay the same fees as residents or, for those groups who do not have any fees, a donation will be made. Each of the main groups have considered the issue and seem to be very supportive of this move. Indeed, some groups would not exist if we did not invite external people to participate.

Secondly, the VBRC are interested in exploring options for those residents currently without solar panels on their roof. The initial view is that 3KW systems may be the best option costing around $4,500 before Government rebates which reduce the cost to around $2,500. Actual energy savings will be achieved depending on individual energy use and acknowledging that excess energy is fed back into our common grid to reduce power costs for common areas and help keep service fees low and not into the wider grid so individual credits do not apply (and the VBRC are trying to get a few actual examples).  At this stage it is a discussion topic only and the plan is to have a meeting of interested residents in the coming weeks to see if the issue is worth pursuing.

Till next month

Stuart Shaw, General Manager

Village Voice: April 2019

Safe Driving

Both of our Villages have experienced recent serious driving incidents. One where a resident collided with a fence and drove into a building and the other where the resident collided with a structure and other vehicles. Thankfully no one was physically injured in either incident and because both drivers were properly licenced and insured, the financial costs are covered by their insurance.  If the driver had been unlicenced, insurance would not cover them and the residents would have incurred personal costs of either $50,000 or $100,000. Driving within the Village without a valid driver’s licence is never acceptable.

Traffic Accident Commission research shows that Drivers over 75 have the highest relative risk of accidents compared to any age group – including P plater new drivers and they have produced a checklist to help older drivers assess their own driving safety and help them modify their driving behaviour.

Some of the questions to ask yourself are:

Do you-

  • Suffer from any serious health conditions such as arthritis, epilepsy, a heart condition, high blood pressure or anxiety?
  • Take medication that may impair your driving?
  • Have difficulty reacting quickly to other drivers’ actions?
  • Drive at inappropriate speeds, either too fast or too slow?
  • Ignore or misinterpret traffic signs and signals?
  • Fail to judge distances between cars correctly?
  • Become easily flustered or angry?
  • Have difficulty with glare of oncoming headlights, streetlights or other bright or shiny objects, especially at dawn, dusk and at night?
  • Find it hard to turn your head, neck, shoulders or body while in traffic or parking?
  • Had one or more near accidents?
  • Have difficulty maintaining concentration while driving?
  • Have your passengers warn you about things on the road you may not have seen, or have seen too late?
  • Feel uncomfortable in heavy traffic?

If you answered yes to any of the above, the TAC offer simple tips to keep older drivers driving safely, some of which include.

  • Use public transport or drive to the closest, most convenient form of public transport.
  • Try to limit driving to off-peak periods.
  • Plan shorter driving periods, and rest along the way.
  • Try to drive only in daylight hours and avoid driving at sunset or sunrise – both are times of high glare and poor visibility.
  • Try to avoid non signalled right hand turns where possible.
  • Get a few refresher driving lessons.
  • Don’t drive if you’ve been drinking or have taken medication.
  • Have your eyes tested at least once every two years and make sure your optometrist knows that you drive.
  • Talk to your pharmacist or doctor about any effect your medication may have on your driving.
  • Choose the safest route, rather than the most direct one.

More information is available on the TAC website

Deciding to stop driving is a confronting choice for anyone, however being aware of your own driving safety and being in control of when you make this choice is much better than being reported by another driver and having to undergo and subsequently fail a Vic Roads driver assessment.

Kim Jackson, Executive Manager

Village Voice: March 2019


I have been made aware of at least 2 Residents who have had their bank accounts emptied from a telephone / computer scam. The criminals who instigate these scams are very believable, they are often female, sound Australian, appear warm and professional over the phone. They may even offer to transfer you to a Manager or have their Manager call you back just to reassure you. If anyone ever calls you and asks for the following information, you should consider that it is probably a scam.

  • Asking you to “confirm” personal information such as date of birth, driver’s licence or medicare number.
  • Asking you to access to your computer “just to check” that you haven’t been subject to suspicious activity.
  • Asking you to put a password into anything on your computer while you are on the phone to them.
  • Saying there has been ‘suspicious activity’ on your credit card and asking you to confirm the card number or expiry date.
  • Asking you to send iTunes or gift cards as payment.
  • Claiming to be the tax office about an overdue payment or refund you are due.
  • Claiming you could be arrested if you don’t pay an overdue bill or fine.

If you are worried that there may be something wrong with your credit card, there is always a proper bank telephone number on the back of the card. You should hang up from the scammer and ring the bank using their number to enquire.

A Bank, Local Council, South East Water or Telephone companies will not ever call you just to confirm your details.

If you do receive a call, just hang up. People who argue with them or yell at them have been known to experience multiple calls or calls through the night.

The NBN installation is happening in our area and we know that scammers target rollout areas. There were only 4 Residents in the Village not on the Village telephone system and they have all received letters from Cheryl. Everyone else living in the Village is not affected by the NBN rollout and should regard anyone ringing about the NBN and advising your phone is about to be cut off as a probable scammer and hang up.

If you are worried that the caller may be genuine and want to check, find out which company they are from and then hang up. Look up the company’s proper telephone number in the whitepages (this is available online or on paper) and call them directly. Do not use the number that the potential scammer gives you. If you can’t find the number, please ask your Hostess to help you look up the right number to call.

Kim Jackson, Executive Manager

Village Voice: February 2019

Marie Kondo’s book and Netflix TV show about the “life-changing magic of tidying up” has captivated households all over the country. The focus is not on finding new ways to store clutter and tidy up mess, it’s about holding onto things that ‘spark joy’ and clearing our homes and lives of things that no longer serve us by being grateful for the role the item played and then recycling things so they may bring joy to others.

This led me to reflect on the wonderful diversity of lives and interests our Village Staff and Residents have and on how we all have the Village in common as something in our lives that “sparks joy”.

There are of course times when the joy is a little harder to spark, but thankfully for most of us, this is not a common occurrence and I am always delighted by the smile that spreads across people’s faces when they hear I work at Village Baxter. It seems wherever I go in Australia, someone always knows the Village and has something positive to say about us.

As we move into February, generally our hottest month and it’s a little harder to sleep when the night is hot (and our tolerance for things that don’t spark joy is a little lower than usual) please remember to drink lots of water and try to stay cool. If you don’t have your own air-conditioning please make use of the various communal buildings we have around the Village, the Grant Centre Café and the Clarke Kiosk sell ice creams if you need a cool snack.

Please keep an eye out for your neighbours, if you are worried that a neighbour is not answering their door, or is home but unusually quiet, please let the Village Nurses know and they can pop in and check everything is ok. It is easy to become dehydrated after a couple of hot days and nights and this can leave people more vulnerable to falling and infections.

Take care in the warmer weather

Kim Jackson, Executive Manager