The lack of a clear national policy could stymie the future growth of the retirement living sector in Australia, a new analysis concludes.
The analysis by researchers at the Queensland University of Technology and the University of Adelaide found the absence of nationally consistent policies and regulations will challenge the future development of the sector.
The study’s authors call for the Commonwealth Government to enact policies that actively support the growth of the retirement village sector.
“The Australian retirement village sector is not a national industry priority or receiving direct and clear policy support,” they found.
The researchers pointed to the barriers facing developers around state-based planning policies and regulations as an example where government could better support the sector.
Earlier this week major operator Stockland called for special zoning for retirement living facilities in line with the planning concessions granted to aged care, as Australian Ageing Agenda reported on Wednesday (read that story here).
Stockland CEO Stephen Bull said that older people were facing “a critical shortage” of retirement living facilities in major centres such as Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.
The new analysis said that retirement village developers had to compete with residential developers yet were often required to invest more as villages had to incorporate specific features such as age-friendly design.
Other barriers hindering the future growth of the sector included the often high resident costs involved, inadequate social and physical environment settings, difficulties in meeting the unique needs of baby boomers and issues with adopting latest technologies, the analysis found.
A report in 2014 by Grant Thornton for the Retirement Living Council estimated that the retirement village sector saved the government $2.1 million though delayed entry into aged care, reduced hospital and GP use and improved social wellbeing.
According to latest industry figures there are currently 184,000 seniors living in retirement villages throughout Australia but by 2025 an estimated 382,000 people will seek this form of accommodation.
The number of retirement villages is predicted to increase from the 2,300 currently to 3,000 in 2025.
The new analysis, which used data from government agencies and sector stakeholders, noted the uneven development of the sector across the country.
NSW, Victoria and Queensland have the largest overall numbers of residents in retirement villages while states such as Western Australia have a higher proportion of their seniors population in retirement living.
Nationally, for-profit organisations provide slightly more independent living units than not-for-profit organisations. For-profit organisations dominate the market in Victoria, Queensland and South Australia, the analysis said.
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