Retirement village operators have acknowledged that they could be providing more care and support to their residents, according to a report prepared for the Retirement Village Association (RVA).
Grant Thornton’s retirement living survey found that over 70 per cent of surveyed operators believe onsite care is a major priority for residents, while more than three quarters think they could be doing more to provide services.
Only a third of participating villages provided subsidised aged care services at their sites, however external providers deliver some form of funded care at most villages.
Grant Thornton’s national director of retirement living and aged care services, Cam Ansell, said reform of the aged care system would make it easier to provide services into villages.
“At the moment we have a rough cut between retirement living and aged care because the licence to receive a subsidy is locked to the building rather than the individual,” he said.
“But under an entitlement model, the subsidy goes with the person and if they want to receive care in a serviced apartment, an independent living unit or in the community, they can do that.”
The report noted that in New Zealand’s less regulated aged care market, comprehensive villages have begun to emerge, offering a continuum of care services to residents across a broad range of accommodation options.
Mr Ansell said not all village operators would want to become service providers but he believes it is important to recognise the growing demand for care provision as the average age of village residents increases.
“Some operators have made a decision to focus on property development and retirement living,” he said.
“They haven’t wanted to go into care because it’s an area that is potentially higher risk and not so lucrative.
“But if you are not interested in providing care services yourself, perhaps you need to develop partnerships with other organisations in the area that are.”
The Grant Thornton report also revealed that most older people living in the community remain unaware of the advantages of living in a retirement village.
It said the sector should develop new marketing approaches to address common misconceptions about villages.
“When you talk to people who live in villages, they say that their actual perceptions are quite different from what they expected before moving in,” Mr Ansell said.
“The decision to move into a retirement village is often prompted by an event like the death of a partner but once they move in, their perceptions change.
“Some keep to themselves at first but once coaxed out, they experience levels of social interaction they never would have experienced in the community.”
The RVA has indicated that it will focus on promotional activities to boost the sector’s image as part of its future strategic direction.