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New Retirement Village Operator Obligations

Under the Retirement Villages Amendment (Operators Obligations) Regulation 2022, which commenced on 1 September 2022, the Department of Fair Trading, as the regulator for the industry, is required to collect, and is able to publish, a range of information related to retirement villages.

This new requirement, which will have ongoing responsibilities for villages, is designed as a remedy to several issues in the sector. It is hoped the collection and publication of the data will address the issue raised in the 2017 Greiner Inquiry into the NSW Retirement Villages Sector.

Create a village profile

It is based on a possible lack of transparency in the sector for people looking to move into a village and it will provide a basis for comparison for consumers. It will also providing the Department of Fair Trading critical information as the industry regulator.

In short, this broad sweep of information from each village will create a village profile to better inform the decisions consumers and arbiters make.

Pubic vision from 2023

In 2022, the data villages provide will not be able to be seen by the public, but this is planned to change in 2023 when a public interface is developed.

Register via portal

Village operators, via the online portal – for which all operators must register – are required to provide profile data on a range of categories, which may be changed from time to time and expanded. The categories include:

  • Name, address and contact details for the retirement village and operator;
  • Information about the Residents Committee (if any);
  • Number of units;
  • Residency type;
  • Information about complaints handled internally by the operator;
  • Village contracts or pricing;
  • Demographic information about residents and staff; and
  • Other management and operation details.

The Department of Fair Trading will notify villages where there is a change or expansion to the information it requires.

Retirement Villages Digital Portal

There is a guide available to support you in using the portal, which is now live and can be accessed here.

For more information, click here.

30 September deadline

The information now required must be provided before (or on) 30 September 2022 for existing villages, and in the future all villages will be required to submit this information as part of their registration. 

As this information must be kept up to date, it will be important for all operators to ensure there is a system where they update the data via the portal within a month of the end of the financial year; if there is a change to any information they have provided throughout the year, this also has to be updated for the regulator.

All changes to information you have provided must be entered via the portal within 21 days, or fines apply.

Latest industry developments

“It is really a people-person job,” says RetireAustralia village manager Giselle Spice

Giselle Spice loves people.

“If you have a passion working with people, and strive for exceptional customer service, then this job is for you,” said the Village Manager of RetireAustralia’s The Verge at Burleigh Retirement Village on QLD’s Gold Coast.

“Every day is a different day. It’s like a box of chocolates, you don’t know what each day is going to bring. You have to have skills in all sorts of things but the most important is people skills.

“It is really a people-person job.”

Giselle has been working in the sector for the past 30 years and the job brings her back to a former workplace.

“I have an extensive background, working for Robinson Park, Aveo, Stockland, Aura and Ingenia. 

“I started as an Assistant Village Manager, when I was 27, and worked my way up to Village Manager, before moving into sales.

“I don’t know if you know, but I’ve actually worked for RetireAustralia before. I was the Village and Sales Manager at their Noyea Village for six and a half years. It was a great company to work for.

Giselle said she loved the variety of the role, even if it is challenging.

“I have a passion for the residents and for trying to make their lives better while they are living in the village. 

“There are always different things to do every day. It’s not just one thing.”

The Verge on Burleigh, RetireAustralia’s first vertical village, opened in June last year. 

“I have only been here three months but working in a beautiful village like this one has been amazing, just seeing how big the apartments are and what we have to offer residents here at The Verge,” Giselle said.

Latest industry developments

Original residents celebrate 15-year anniversary of Bolton Clarke’s Moreton ​​​​​​​Shores village

Daphne Williams remembered how she and her husband Brian rushed down on a brisk morning in late 2007 to make sure they secured the unit they fell in love with at Bolton Clarke’s Moreton Shores Retire Village at Thornlands, Redland, QLD.

“We were here at 8:15 in the morning to make sure we got the unit that we wanted and to this day we are still really happy with it,” she said.

“At the time, we were starting to look at going into a retirement village after my husband had a stroke.

“From day one, we watched the village progress and grow while the facilities started being built and we got really excited about it all, so when they opened their doors for the first sale we had to be here.”

Fellow original residents (from left) Ivor Worrell, Josie Dougherty, Wilhelmina Van Opstal-Nihot, Audrey Hardy and Josie Matthews joined Brian and Daphne in cutting the anniversary cake.

Moreton Shores had 52 units when it opened and has grown to 155.

Latest industry developments

Personalities launch 400 ‘Long Live Me’ experiences for Lendlease’s retirement villages

It’s great to see retirement village operators spruiking not only their business but the sector in general.

Lendlease is launching its Long Live Me experiences next month, featuring Foxtel’s Selling Houses Australia host Andrew Winter, entertainer Rhonda Burchmore, TV and radio personality Kerri-Anne Kennerley, and comedian Jean Kittson.

“Long Live Me centres around the belief that after years of hard work, paying off a mortgage and raising a family, we can finally say ‘we earned this’ in this next life chapter,” said Nathan Cockerill, Managing Director of Retirement Living, Lendlease.

Over four weeks, from 1 October to 31 October, 73 villages nationally will host a series of over 400 free onsite and livestreamed experiences, designed to give Over 55s a chance to discover what it means to have the freedom to live your way and make the choices you want as well as take part in all the fun that retirement life can offer.

In separate experiences across the states, residents and guests can enjoy happy hour with Rhonda Burchmore, high tea with Kerri-Anne Kennerly, and happiest hour and a dash of humour with Jean Kittson.

Residents and guests can also register for happy hour with live music, Tai Chi, Zumba, Yoga, aerobics, painting, and pinot and much, much more. 

“Our villages encourage residents to experience retirement in any way they choose, provide opportunities to support the strong sense of community and help everyone connect. 

“We’re really looking forward to inviting guests to take a leisurely look around the vibrant villages, meet our residents and inspire those over 55 to try something new.” 

For more information and bookings: click here.

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Resident well-being is more than a full activity calendar

The people in our villages are likely to be at various stages of their later years, ranging in age from late 60s to 100, some fit and agile others more dependent and anywhere in-between.  

Well-being is the new buzz word, but what is it?

As a Village Manager, achieving resident well-being isn’t about:

  • Having the fullest activity schedule;
  • The latest and greatest facilities or technology;
  • Getting 100% of residents to village events;
  • Working against illness and making sure they stay fit.

What it is about is having a genuine interest in supporting those living in our community to lead the life they choose.

As Village Managers we have the opportunity to listen and respond, to be the link and facilitator of information.

This can be done in different ways: 

  • Village interest groups – cards, walking, tennis, bowls, local interests/service;
  • Local community activities – life-long learning U3A, Local & State government activities, volunteering;

And then with more support type services:

  • Meal deliveries, independent aides, home care providers;
  • Council services – transport;
  • Allied health services, GP centres.

Having a sense of the right times to step in and step out is of paramount importance.

Latest industry developments

R U OK Day 2022 marked by COVID-19 and rising interest rates for first time

R U OK Day 2022 was marked with cup cakes for residents and staff at retirement villages and aged care homes up and down the nation.

COVID-19 has been a traumatic event for everyone and the requirements for the sector have been unheard of.

However, the soaring cost of living and personal debt is the number one threat to mental health for the first time with interest rates continuing to rise.

Forty per cent of Australians feel more distressed over finances compared with last year, Suicide Prevention Australia’s annual State of the Nation report revealed.

It is the first time economic stress has overtaken social issues such as drugs, loneliness and family breakdown as the primary cause of self-harm.

Many, such as Twilight Aged Care (pictured), posted photos on social media with the simple message being for everyone to touch base with friends, family or colleagues and ask the simple question.

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Serenitas celebrate Father’s Day with The Book of Dad

In a great way to celebrate Father’s Day, Serenitas’ over-50s lifestyle communities across the nation joined forces by sharing their fondest memories of their dads, their best dad jokes and some fatherly tips and tricks.

The Book of Dad was gifted to all Serenitas homeowners.

 “After the success of our Mother’s Day cookbook, we wanted to recognise the importance of fathers in our lives. The Book of Dad is our way of celebrating the many different ways dads are active and influential in our lives, all underpinned with good humour. It’s a way we can say thank you to those dads still with us and pay tribute to those whose memories are etched forever,” said Serenitas CEO Rob Nichols.

The Book of Dad features heartfelt recollections of homeowners’ fathers or their own experience of fatherhood, sharing many life lessons and memories, from holiday adventures to acts of kindness.

Here’s some dad tales

Jenn McLeod, who lives at Latitude 25 Lifestyle Village in Nikenbah, on QLD’s Fraser Coast, said her father, Don Lewis, is an inspiration and role model in her life. Now, at 92, he still has his wild sense of adventure.

“I think I inherited Dad’s drive and can-do attitude,” she says.

“He is, in fact, the reason my bucket list is bulging today. I have ticked off a few: buying a café (having only ever drunk coffee), buying a 25-foot fifth wheeler (having only ever towed a box trailer) and hitting the road full-time as Jenn J McLeod, Australia’s Nomadic Novelist (having run out of family and friends to fictionalise).”

Lawrence Liebetrau resides in Busselton, on the southwest tip of Western Australia, and credits his love of a fit and healthy lifestyle to his father.

“One day while listening to the commentary on Comrades Ultra Marathon in Africa, I told my dad right then and there that I would run this great race one day. He smiled and said he would be proud if I managed to complete this world-famous and difficult marathon,”

Lawrence went on to run nine Comrades Ultra Marathons and over 60 marathons in total.

June Eastwood from National Lifestyle Villages’ The Outlook at Albany, a port city in the Great Southern region of Western Australia, tells of her father’s generosity as she and her husband worked hard to establish a viable farm on uncleared land back in 1955. Her father Hebert would turn up unannounced with gifts such as a brand-new 32-volt Lighting Plant, a shiny blue floor polisher, a red Mix Master and a second-hand engine-driven Simpson washing machine.

“He was always looking out for me and trying to make our lives a little bit easier,” says June.

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Asset management plans and asset registers must be taken care of

With Retirement Living Operators now required to have Asset Management Plans in place, keeping them up to date and easily accessible to residents poses a significant challenge. Some Operators have been fined for not having their Asset Management Plans up to date.

Technology is available to help Retirement Living Operators build robust, transparent systems for reporting on asset management, and giving full visibility to residents. Ask managers at other villages what technology they use.

An asset management plan needs to have a 10-year planning horizon and must include an asset register and maintenance schedule. It must also have a three-year plan estimating capital maintenance and replacement costs.

The asset management plan must include an asset register and a maintenance schedule.

Most importantly, to remain compliant and meet future statutory guidelines, you must keep your asset register up to date, with major items of capital needing to be catalogued within seven days of purchase.

An Asset Register will document:

  • What assets there are, and where they are located;
  • When they were acquired and at what value; and
  • The condition of each asset and their remaining useful life.

You must also include a three-year report to include expenditure for major items of capital in the annual budget. It will also provide information about your proposal to replace or continue to maintain an item to encourage a discussion with residents at the annual budget.

Following the expiry of the first 10-year period, you must prepare another asset management plan for each retirement village you operate every 10 years

Asset Management Plans are now mandated across NSW Retirement Living Operators and up-to-date plans need to be shared with residents.

Since the compliance deadline for NSW Retirement Village Operators has passed, managing ongoing compliance is now the focus.

This approach to Asset Management Plans is expected to be duplicated for other States and Territories in Australia in the coming months.

Audits are becoming frequent for Retirement Village Operators and some organisations have reported that have received fines for not being able to provide an up-to-date Village Asset Management Plan that is accessible to Residents.

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New data demand from NSW Government for village operators

The NSW Government has passed the Retirement Villages Amendment (Operators Obligations) Regulation 2022, which requires certain information from operators on or before 30 September.

“This Regulation is part of the NSW Government’s response to the 2017 Greiner Inquiry into the NSW Retirement Villages Sector and addresses concerns over the lack of transparency of critical retirement village data needed by the regulator and consumers to make decisions,” NSW Fair Trading said in a statement.

The following information is required by the Department of Customer Service:

  • Name, address and contact details for the retirement village and operator;
  • Information about the Residents Committee (if any);
  • Number of units;
  • Residency type;
  • Information about complaints handled internally by the operator;
  • Village contracts or pricing;
  • Demographic information about residents and staff, and
  • Other management and operation details.

Operators are also required to submit the annual data within one month of the end of the financial year. If any of the information changes, they are expected to provide updated data within 21 days of the change.