JUDE BARBACK chats with the 2012 winner of the INsite/RVA Village Manager of the Year Award.

“I feel like I’m at the top of my game,” says Diana Triplow, who is clearly buzzing from winning the INsite/RVA Village Manager of the Year Award at this year’s RVA Conference in Wellington.

I catch up with Triplow for a quick coffee and a chat in the conference exhibition space, the morning after she claimed the accolade. It is morning tea time and the hum of delegates around us adds to her excitement. Triplow says she feels very proud of her achievement.

And rightly so. As general manager of Mary Doyle Lifecare in Hastings, one of three aged care facilities privately owned by the Hurst/Pratley Group, Triplow runs a large and thriving operation comprising

115 villas, 80 apartments, 34 rest home beds, 60 hospital beds, and 64 dementia care beds. Mary Doyle has been in operation since 1995, with Triplow, a registered nurse with 35 years’ nursing experience under her belt, at the helm since 2001. Over the past decade, Triplow has managed the development and growth of Mary Doyle from two to 19 hectares.

She attributes her success to her residents – all 395 of them.

“My residents kept asking me to enter this competition, so I finally did.” She says various circumstances, such as having a grandchild living with her and a sick husband to care for, prevented her from entering in previous years, but at last, the time was right.

It isn’t hard to see why the residents – among them, Triplow’s parents – are happy at Mary Doyle. Triplow’s presentation to RVA delegates prior to the award ceremony showed an entertaining array of photos: residents enjoying a trip to the Gold Coast, tending to the garden allotments, participating in education programmes, and more often than not, in some form of fancy dress attire.

I was particularly taken with the way the village made its own olive oil from its crop of olive trees, providing an apt metaphor for the growth and cultivation at Mary Doyle.

Triplow believes that innovation is her biggest strength and what has got her where she is today.

“I’m grateful the directors allow me to be innovative. I got a café up and running before anyone really knew what was happening!” she laughs.

This café, Riverstones, is now the social epicentre for Mary Doyle.

She is also full of praise for her “fantastic” 240 staff. Triplow is very proud that 28 of the original 80 staff who were there when she took over the management of Mary Doyle are still working there today.

“We have relatively low turnover,” she says.

There are challenges, of course, and chief among them are maintaining the values, high standards, and levels of enthusiasm in a large and growing workforce. Succession planning is also a concern.

Triplow strikes me as a proactive woman, someone who gets things done.

“I manage things as they happen,” she confirms.

“You have to have plenty of passion and energy and care to do this job,” says Triplow, and under these criteria, I think the Manager of the Year award has gone to a deserving recipient.

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