In May the RAAG group discussed the recently established Retirement Living Code of Conduct which came into effect on January 1st, 2020. It is a voluntary Code of Conduct that retirement housing providers can sign up to to ensure they “maintain high standards across best business operations and community experiences“.
The Code of Conduct is a initiative of the Property Council of Australia (PCA), which is a nationwide body which advocates for and represents the leaders of the property industry. The PCA has a Retirement Living division which represents national retirement village and senior living community operators.
The Code also involves a independent review Panel who oversee, monitor and review the Code, and deal with matters referred to it by residents and operators. The Panel is made up of an independent chair, as well as operator and resident representatives to ensure an unbiased review process. Additionally, all Panel members have dispute resolution experience.
Members discussed the pros and cons of such an initiative; some members thought it was helpful and showed the industry’s commitment to a high standard and to the needs and voices of residents, especially given that the panel included the residents perspective.
Other members were wary of a voluntary and self-managed governing body which represents operators in the industry; they were curious how residents can be certain that the industry will hold itself accountable and remain unbiased?
Additionally, members raised the potential financial impact on resident when a retirement village signs up to the code (click here to see the sign up form). The village has to pay for accreditation, and the cost can vary for each provider depending if you are a member of the PCA or LASA, if you are a new subscriber, and how many units you have in your village.
Depending what this amount it, there is potential that this cost will be absorbed by the maintenance charges without any tangible benefit to the residents paying them. This might be worth it in some cases to ensure high standards in housing and lifestyle, but there is equally a chance that villages could promote their certification of compliance and there would be no tangible difference to the housing, financial, and wellbeing indicators for the residents.
Members were all pleased to know the Code is releasing regular annual reports, which will show how many issues have gone through the Panel and the outcomes. So far due to how new the Code and Panel are, there are minimal examples of this, but RAAG members look forward to seeing how successful this is and what can be applied to other retirement housing types, or recommended to government for policy change.
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