Familiar faces in new roles: Meet our ‘new’ village managers

The departures of Fiona Nilsson (The Central) and Bob Newport (Monash) left Goodwin with big shoes to fill. Happily, the job was made easy when two of the organisation’s favourite stalwarts put their hats in the ring.

Leanne Thompson, most recently community liaison manager for home care took up the mantle at The Central, while the Monash role went to John Penca, former hospitality and customer services manager of residential aged care. The two bring over 28 years’ collective experience of serving our seniors.

“I started with Goodwin in 2002 in residential care before moving across to day clubs and home care. I was really enjoying what I was doing, but the opportunity came up to consider another step in my journey with Goodwin. It was a big shift, but my experience and knowledge of Goodwin’s policies, standards and the expectations people have of us, have all helped me transition into the new role”, said Leanne.

For self-confessed ‘people person’ John, settling in is all about getting to know residents. “I really love to go out and knock on doors, say g’day and build those relationships. One of the first things I’m doing is to survey the residents to find out more about their village experience: what they enjoy doing here and what are the things we can improve on. It’s really helping me understand more about their lifestyle choices and how I can support them”, said John.

Leanne echoes John’s views. “People who choose retirement living choose to live a very independent lifestyle. I’ve been spending a lot of time talking to our residents, listening to their fantastic stories, and finding out what they enjoy doing so I can make it happen.”

Joining on 1 April in the thick of the pandemic restrictions was a challenge for Leanne but she took it as an opportunity. “Exploring what we can do in a COVID-19 safe world has been interesting. When nothing was happening in the wider community, we had a ‘socially-distanced’ jazz concert and it was a lovely time with a lot of toe tapping and people swaying to music. With restrictions slowly easing, it’s lovely seeing The Central life in its full richness.”

Monash is no different and with the cafés and clubhouses now open to residents in limited capacity, life is slowly returning normal. “It’s great to see life evolve to the full complement of the social things we are doing here at Monash”, said John.

Leanne also has a message for the residents: “I look forward to building our relationship together. Let’s keep the conversations going so together we can solve the issues as they arise and celebrate the good times”.