The lines between retirement villages and nursing homes are blurring as retirement village operators are seizing the opportunity to become home care providers.
This is a result of last year’s aged care reforms, which opened up home care so that retirement village operators could register as home care providers.
A 2017 report shows that 33% of the retirement villages surveyed are operated by an approved provider for home care. Whilst 28% of the villages are co-locating with nursing homes or have nursing homes located within 500 metres of the village.
There are both pros and cons to this approach.
On the bright-side, the provision of care in retirement homes can help people to ‘age in place’ and delay the need to move into residential aged care.
However, this new model of mixing care and accommodation comes with potential problems too as it blurs what was once a strict line between retirement villages and aged care services.
Aged care is regulated by the Commonwealth, whilst retirement villages are regulated by state and territory governments. The NSW Retirement Villages Act 1999 was originally designed, as COTA Australia writes, “when retirement villages offered basic ‘bricks and mortar’ accommodation”.
Whilst aged care legislation strictly regulates fees and charges to residents, retirement village contracts can be confusing and expensive. There are few checks and balances around retirement village costs, fees and charges.
Combining accommodation and care can also be problematic for residents if care is lacklustre, as they can’t easily switch providers without having to find a new home as well.
The current retirement village law doesn’t address this new mixed care and accommodation model. There needs to be a review of the now 20 year old Retirement Villages Act.