The day-to-day operations of a village are the responsibility of the village manager. It's a demanding role, overseeing the business side of the village alongside the wellbeing of the residents. We asked Christine Grafitti to tell us of her background and her daily life as a village manager.
Christine: "I have been the manager here at Lourdes for over two years now. It's a beautiful village of 108 independent living units and 55 serviced apartments nestled on a landscaped 5.6 hectares. Everything is green and fresh, with an abundance of birdlife. We have a great community with a real diversity of people from all walks of life. We also have low and high Care on site, which gives comfort to a lot of our residents."
"My career started as a registered nurse, in both hospitals and nursing homes. I went on to work in the corporate sector followed by a role as health and administration manager at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS). You need to wear a lot of hats in this role, so wide experience certainly comes in handy."
"There are 20 staff here with me to make sure expectations are met. I am responsible for them and the finances of the village, its budgets and P&L, as well as sales of the units and the legal aspects of the contracts. But people are my real responsibility - my day is taken up with meeting people, listening and then meeting their individual needs. It is an empathetic role. With sales I spend an average of two hours with each person who comes to look at Lourdes as a possible new home. It's a big decision and we try to make it as easy as we can. We are fortunate in that we have a refurbishment program that allows us to meet many of the new resident's needs. That means a new kitchen and bathroom in most cases; we can also install more hanging space, even knock out walls to make a bigger living area. So I am often a construction manager as well."
"We are like a hotel in that we have lunch and dinner available seven days a week. In the serviced apartments, we can also can do personal laundry and provide a medication service as we have registered nurses attached to the apartments. Our residents know that services are in place to help them stay independent in their own home longer. This is a busy place with things happening all the time. We have the University of the Third Age (U3A) here, tai chi, aquarobics, visiting doctors and podiatrists and even an onsite hairdresser. One of my personal initiatives has been our coffee shop that is busy seven days a week, but what would you expect with excellent quiche and salad for just $6."
"Lourdes is part of the Aevum group; I have been fortunate because they have a policy of being an ‘Employer of Choice.' They make things easier for me by being generous in what they supply to the residents. Aevum paid for the set up of the coffee shop and help with the ongoing running costs. They recognise that this is a valued service for residents."
"I also work closely with the Residents Committee on the village operating costs and new initiatives. We meet once a month and they have to approve the operational budget. Because the garden is so central to this village, I do a walk round the entire site each month with them to see what we can do to improve things. As a result, we have applied together for a community grant to help us with our water conservation."
"All in all we have a very happy village. As our Resident Committee Chairman says: ‘All we need to do is communicate and co-operate,' which I think we do very well."
For more information on Lourdes Retirement Village please click here.