Retirement village contracts: unfair terms in the fine print

Unfair terms in village contracts are leaving a financial sting.

21jan retirement village contracts hero

“Wake up with a song in your heart and a purpose for your day.” That’s the promotional plug for the 32 retirement villages owned by the Arvida Group. Along with hot pools and happy hours in your golden years, the company promises to make “it easier for you to live by your own rules”.

But the contract you sign when you move into an Arvida village – or any other retirement village – means you’ll also have to play by the company’s rules. Some of them may not make your heart sing.

Our review of contracts offered by six major retirement village operators – Arvida, Bupa, Metlifecare, Oceania Healthcare, Ryman Healthcare and Summerset – found terms we think unfairly favour the village and risk leaving residents out of pocket. They could also fall foul of the Fair Trading Act.

The village model

Retirement villages have grown rapidly in the past two decades and more are in the pipeline. They’re marketed as a safe and stress-free lifestyle option, and can be an attractive choice for retirees wanting freedom from home maintenance. An estimated 14 percent of those aged 75 and over have made the move.

Living in a village isn’t the same as owning or renting your home.

Most villages offer a “licence to occupy”, costing anywhere from $200,000 to more than $1 million for a one-to-two bedroom unit. Before moving in, you sign an “occupation right agreement”. It gives you the right to live in your unit – but no ownership rights to the property – and sets out what you can and can’t do as a resident.

21jan retirement village contracts body1

It’s a business model that benefits from churn. Income is forecast on selling a licence to occupy several times within a relatively short period. The average tenure of a unit is about seven years.

In addition to the sum to purchase your occupation licence, you usually pay a weekly fee to cover the village's operating costs.

When you leave the village, you (or your estate) forego a large slice of what you paid for your licence as a “deferred management” or “exit” fee. This fee can be 20 to 30 percent of the licence cost. So if you paid $500,000, and the village charged a 30 percent deferred management fee, you’d get back $350,000.

No capital gain

Villages justify these exit fees as the residents’ contribution to management and refurbishment costs. However, they make it hard to move out of a village without taking a financial hit – prospective residents are typically cautioned moving into a village is a “lifestyle choice”, not an investment.

But the financial impacts on residents are much higher when they don’t receive any capital gain from the sale of their licence.

All six villages we reviewed retain any capital gain. Assuming your $500,000 licence sold seven years later for $650,000, the village would keep the extra $150,000.

Terms allowing the village to retain the capital gain clearly benefit the operator. But we think they significantly disadvantage residents. Across the Tasman, some operators allow residents to share capital gains, showing there are other options.

This idea has been flagged here by Retirement Commissioner Jane Wrightson, who’s responsible for monitoring the sector. A discussion paper, released by her office in December, suggested sharing the capital gain between the resident and the village could be one way to deliver fairer outcomes.

Villages’ retention of capital gains is a major bone of contention for residents. In our 2020 survey of residents, it was the number one complaint (see “Survey results”).

Liability for repairs

As well as missing out on any capital gain, residents can face other significant costs.

Our review found several contracts made residents liable for the cost of repairs to appliances and other items in their unit, even though they don’t own them.

Metlifecare had the most wide-ranging clause in its contract. The company gives you just one month from the date the agreement commences to advise “in writing” of any repairs needed. After that, you have to pay for repairs and maintenance to the unit’s interior, including to the stove, garage doors, plumbing and electrical fittings.

Our review found several contracts made residents liable for the cost of repairs to appliances and other items in their unit, even though they didn’t own them.

You’re required to pay repair costs “on demand”.

When we raised the matter with Metlifecare, GM corporate services Andrew Peskett said it was common in the industry for residents to be responsible for maintenance of their unit’s interior. However, Metlifecare was “open to reviewing” the one-month period in which residents must notify it of defects, he said.

We think these kinds of terms are hard to defend. They also conflict with residents’ rights under the Consumer Guarantees Act to receive goods and services of a reasonable standard. If the oven in your unit fails, the village should wear the cost.

While contracts can hold residents liable for repairs to the villages’ chattels, the six contracts we reviewed stated the village won’t take any responsibility for damage to your possessions. In our view, these clauses risk misleading consumers about their rights: if the village caused the damage, it should pay for repairs.

Villages said the intention of these clauses wasn’t to avoid liability when they did the damage but to encourage residents to get insurance for their possessions to cover other losses. We don’t think that’s clear. Four villages – Arvida, Bupa, Ryman and Summerset – said they’d review the wording of their terms.

Other fees

Most contracts also included penalties if you’re late paying any bills.

Metlifecare’s terms state you’ll be charged default interest “on demand” if you don’t pay by the due date. Arvida’s and Bupa’s contracts said you can be charged if you’re five working days late with payment, while Ryman’s and Summerset’s state seven days.

These late fees are interest-based – rather than flat fees – so the higher the bill, the more you’ll end up paying.

However, if you’re waiting for the village to pay money it owes you, it’s a different story.

Summerset doesn’t pay interest on money owing to the resident. Arvida, Bupa, Oceania and Ryman only pay interest on your exit payment (the money due to you when you leave) if your unit remains unsold after six months. With Metlifecare, you have to wait nine months before interest kicks in.

The Retirement Villages Code of Practice, developed under the Retirement Villages Act, requires operators to repay the resident within five working days of reselling their occupation licence. However, the code is silent on how long it’s reasonable for residents to wait for their licence to be sold.

It could end up being months, leaving residents without their money or interest earnings in the meantime.

Limits on residents’ rights

Contracts can also give the village significant discretion in deciding what residents can and can’t do.

For example, if you want guests to stay longer than two weeks, Summerset and Ryman require you to get approval. Arvida and Bupa limit guests to three weeks, unless the village agrees otherwise.

Operators defended these clauses, stating they needed to be able to manage the number of people using facilities and village “dynamics”. However, contracts give villages wide discretion to decide whether a request would be granted. At a minimum, we think the contract should state consent won’t be unreasonably withheld.

21jan retirement village contracts noise
Several contracts restricted residents' right to raise objections about village developments.

Several contracts also restricted residents’ right to raise reasonable objections about village developments.

Metlifecare’s contract stated the village “shall be entitled at its sole discretion” to make alterations “in any manner whatsoever”. You’re not entitled to make any objection to building works, including to “the dust, noise or other discomfort or nuisance which may arise”.

Similarly, Summerset requires you to “sign any consents or other documents” relating to development of the village. You must not object or complain, including complaining about dust, noise “or other disturbance or discomfort arising from such works”.

Summerset said residents were made aware of planned developments before signing their agreements and the company was required to minimise any inconvenience.

We think these clauses are far too broad and don’t recognise residents’ rights to raise reasonable concerns.

Consumer safeguards

The Retirement Villages Act is intended to provide protection for consumers moving into a village. However, the act hasn’t been reviewed since it was introduced in 2003 and is showing its age. The code of practice, developed in 2008 to set minimum standards for villages, also remains largely unaltered.

Neither reflect changes to the Fair Trading Act that ban unfair terms in consumer contracts.

Retirement Village Residents Association of New Zealand president Peter Carr believes a review is needed. He describes existing regulation of the industry as “heavily skewed” in favour of villages.

Carr has lived in a retirement village for 10 years and is well-versed in the pros and cons of village life. He counts himself “very lucky” with the village he picked but not everyone strikes the same luck, he said.

Carr singles out the Retirement Villages Code of Practice as a big part of the problem.

Villages base agreements on the code’s provisions, “some of which are vague and consequently allow for contract clauses that are open for unacceptable interpretation and also unfair outcomes”, he said.

The Retirement Villages Association, which represents the industry, accepts some minor changes may be needed but rejects there’s a case for wholesale reform. “In general, we consider the act offers residents a high degree of protection and does not need to be reviewed," executive director John Collyns said.

But Carr’s view that it’s time to revamp the rules has got backing from Retirement Commissioner Wrightson.

The discussion paper released by her office last year recommends reviewing both the act and the code. It acknowledged “there are consumer issues with the framework, reflecting the way [it] tends to favour commercial imperatives of operators”. The commissioner intends to brief ministers after submissions on the paper close in February.

Our view

  • Moving into a retirement village is a major financial decision. Given the risks for consumers, it’s vital contracts are fair. Based on our review, many don’t measure up.
  • Regulation of the industry needs to ensure there are effective safeguards for consumers. Changes are overdue and we support overhauling the rules to make sure residents get a fair deal.

Survey results

Last year, we asked residents for their views on village life. Of the 1680 respondents, 81 percent were satisfied with their village, with 58 percent very satisfied.

The most common reasons for making the move were wanting freedom from home maintenance (69 percent) and a safe and secure environment (66 percent). Having aged care facilities on site was also a factor for 50 percent.

Respondents were much less enthusiastic about the quality of their occupation right agreements. Just 44 percent thought the agreement was “very easy” or “somewhat easy” to read and understand. Only 18 percent rated the terms and conditions as “very fair” and 26 percent as “somewhat fair”.

The top three complaints:

  • 63 percent of respondents were unhappy their agreement didn’t allow them to get any capital gain when their unit was sold.
  • 29 percent thought the deferred management fee charged by the village was too high.
  • 24 percent said the agreement required them to use the village’s nominated tradespeople, preventing them shopping around for better rates.

It wasn’t possible to survey a randomised sample of village residents, so results may not be representative of the sector as a whole. However, the findings are in line with those of other research.

Law foundation logo

Research carried out for this report was supported by a grant from The New Zealand Law Foundation.

What the contracts say

Arvida Group

Arvida logo.

Number of villages: 32
Resident entitled to capital gain: No
Deferred management fee: 30%

Key contract terms:

  • You’re responsible “for the costs of any repairs or maintenance” to the unit’s interior and chattels, even though you don’t own them. You may also be charged a fee to cover the village’s administration costs.

  • You’ll be charged default interest of 7.5% on any unpaid bills. But the village only pays interest on your exit payment after 6 months at a rate of 1% above the official cash rate.

  • On your demise, your possessions must be removed from your unit within 5 working days. If the items aren’t collected within a further month, the village may sell them and deduct removal, storage and sales costs.

Company’s response: Arvida chief financial officer Jeremy Nicoll said its agreements are drafted “with a plain English approach in mind and we are generally of the view that they are easy to read and understand”.

Nicoll said residents pay a fixed weekly fee for village outgoings on the basis that costs for repairs and maintenance to a unit’s interior will be charged separately. He said the village will pay to fix any “underlying defect”. We think the contract fails to adequately recognise the village’s CGA obligations to ensure services it provides are of an acceptable standard – and fix the problem if they’re not.

In regard to the five-day time frame for removing possessions after a resident’s death, Nicoll said Arvida had identified this “could cause stress” and was planning to extend the period to 20 working days.

Bupa Care Services

Bupa logo.

Number of villages: 37
Resident entitled to capital gain: No
Deferred management fee: 30%

Key contract terms:

  • You must replace “all fittings”, including power elements, if they break or wear out, even though you don’t own them.

  • You’ll be charged default interest at Westpac’s floating home loan rate if you’re 5 working days late with a payment. But the village only pays interest on your exit payment after six months at Westpac’s 30-day term deposit rate.

  • You’re required to “sign all consents and other documents” relating to development of the village and can’t “claim compensation in respect of any development or building works”.

Company’s response: Bupa media and external communications manager Robert Walker said the company is confident its agreement complies with the Fair Trading Act.

“The agreement says that a resident is generally responsible for the inside of their home and Bupa is responsible for maintaining the exterior,” Walker said. But as with Arvida, we think this fails to recognise the village’s CGA responsibilities to ensure services are of an acceptable standard.

The company disagreed it was unreasonable to prevent residents claiming compensation for adverse effects from village developments. Development plans may change over time but “are generally intended to positively enhance the village look and feel”, Walker said.


Metlifecare logo

Number of villages: 25
Resident entitled to capital gain: No
Deferred management fee: 30%

Key contract terms:

  • You have only one month after the agreement commences to advise the village, in writing, of any defect or repairs needed. Otherwise, you must pay “on demand” all costs for repairs and maintenance to the unit’s interior and chattels, including to the stove, garage doors, plumbing, and electrical fittings and fixtures.

  • You’ll be charged default interest “on demand” on unpaid bills at 4% above BNZ’s wholesale prime overdraft interest rate plus a 10% admin fee (up to $1000) when costs you owe are charged directly to the operator. But the village only pays interest on your exit payment after 9 months at a rate equal to BNZ’s monthly term deposit rate.

  • The village “shall be entitled at its sole discretion” to make alterations “in any manner whatsoever” and you’re not entitled to make any objection to building works, including “the dust, noise or other discomfort or nuisance which may arise”.

Company response: Metlifecare GM corporate services Andrew Peskett said it didn’t consider the clauses unfair. However, “in the interests of continuous improvement”, Peskett said it would include a detailed review of several terms we’d questioned as part of its regular review process.

He said the company was “open to reviewing” the one-month time frame in which residents must notify it of defects.

Oceania Healthcare


Number of villages: 25
Resident entitled to capital gain: No
Deferred management fee: 30%

Key contract terms:

  • You can’t make any improvements to your unit without consent, which can be withheld at the village's “absolute discretion”.

  • The village only pays interest on your exit payment when you leave after 6 months at the bank 30-day term deposit rate.

  • You have to pay a handling charge “on demand” if any costs you owe are charged directly to the village. However, this charge isn't stated.

Company’s response: Oceania considers its agreement complies with the Fair Trading Act. General manager operations Jill Birch said it reserves the right to withhold consent for alterations for a number of reasons, including “preserving the uniformity” of the village. Birch said Oceania may recover “a reasonable charge” if a third-party supplier bills the village direct for goods or services provided to a resident.

Ryman Healthcare

Ryman Healthcare logo.

Number of villages: 36
Resident entitled to capital gain: No
Deferred management fee: 20%

Key contract terms:

  • You must repair electrical fittings and power elements when they wear out or break, even though you don’t own them.

  • You can be charged default interest of 3% above the bank overdraft rate if you’re 7 days late with a payment. But the village only pays interest on your exit payment after 6 months at a rate of 1% above the 90-day bank bill rate.

  • You’re not allowed to “oppose any application” for resource consent or other application relating to the village development or operation.

Company’s response: Ryman said it would review the issues we’d raised and “look to provide more clarity”. Corporate affairs manager David King said agreements “are written in the context of all the legislation, including the Fair Trading Act” and it aimed to ensure they are “as fair and easy to understand as possible”.



Number of villages: 29
Resident entitled to capital gain: No
Deferred management fee: 25%

Key contract terms:

  • Changes you want to make to improve the property, such as installing a heat pump, must be carried out by the village's contractors at your expense so you can’t shop around for a better price.

  • You can be charged default interest of 3% above the bank overdraft rate if any payment is 7 days late. But the village doesn’t pay interest on money it owes you.

  • You’re required to “sign any consents or other documents” relating to development of the village and must not object or complain, including complaining about dust, noise, “or other disturbance or discomfort arising from such works”.

Company’s response: Summerset communications manager Jenny Bridgen said it believes its agreement complies with the Fair Trading Act.

Bridgen said its contractors are “vetted” and encouraged to invoice the resident directly for work done so Summerset isn’t involved in the payment process. Where that’s not possible, costs are on-charged to the resident “together with any amount required to reimburse Summerset for administrative time and expenses”, she said.

Company information is sourced from disclosure documents and occupation right agreements lodged on the Retirement Villages Register, and from company websites in December 2020 and January 2021. Deferred management fee shows the maximum fee charged on leaving the village.

Retirement villages checklist

Use our checklist to assess prospective villages.

We're not suggesting you should only go into a village where the answer to every question is "yes". Rather, be aware of the issues raised by our checklist and decide what's best for you.

Retirement villages checklist (222 KB)

Stay in the know

Keep up-to-date with Consumer's latest news, investigations and product and service reviews, plus join the Consumer panel with invitations to take part in surveys.

Support our mission

Member comments

Get access to comment

Ian R.
23 Feb 2021
Unfair settlement

The village I live in has had a number of owners and is now owned by Arena Living, a subsidiary of the American Blackstone Group. I came into my village on the earlier 80/20 licence to occupy, under which the longer I stay in the village, the less I or my estate get when I leave. Taken to its logical conclusion, if I live long enough and costs and prices continue to escalate like they have been doing, I could get nothing and theoretically would have to pay the owner to leave!
The reselling value of the licence for my villa has been estimated at $960,000, but is more likely to be in excess of one million dollars. When I came into the village 19½ years ago, the licence to occupy cost me $321,000. From that figure, in terms of the licence, when I leave I am liable to have deducted 20% (64,200) plus the cost of refurbishment, estimated at $85,000, plus an “administration fee” of 2% of the resale price (another $19,200) plus Arena’s legal fees for settling with me and also from negotiating with the incoming resident (estimated at $1,500). So if the licence is resold for the conservative figure of $960,000, I could be offered only $151,000. Remember I paid $321,000. Also, I or my estate would not get this amount until the villa has been refurbished and resold
If the licence to occupy is resold for$1,200,000 and the refurbishment cost is $100,000, take from the payment to me of a further $16,200, bringing the figure I would get down to $134,800. As can be seen, as costs and prices increase the payout to me decreases. Definitely no capital gain! Had I come into the village just a few years later I would have been on the current 70/30 contract and the payout to me would be $224,700 fixed no matter what the resale price or cost of refurbishment. Still no capital gain of course.
What is even more galling is the fact that some residents on the 80/20 contract have been offered settlement by Arena living as if they were on the fixed 70/30, so they know exactly what they are getting on exit without further deductions. I suggest the Fair Trading Act should come into play.
The above is my main dispute with Arena, but there is more I am afraid. Others have commented on the estimated cost of refurbishment, which appears to include some costs of upgrading, not provided for in the licence to occupy. There is also the matter of the resident paying for the cost of repairs to the inside of the residence, which is to the ultimate benefit of the owner. Assuming that the resident is liable, there is the question of the costs of these repairs and the ability of the resident being able to nominate the repairer.
There is no doubt that the Retirement Villages Act is badly in need of overhauling. I note that village owners have asked for an extension of time for submissions. I trust this is not a delaying tactic, given that they have already said that the Act is basically OK in its current form.

Simon E.
07 Feb 2021
Excellent Article - Thanks to the Law Foundation

Excellent Article - thanks to the law foundation - and the question of market forces or as Denis says "reality" is rubbish - the entire industry is set up to remove capital from the elderly and the contracts are horribly unfair - why have they not appeared in court yet ? - because as soon as anyone complains the industry pays out - they don't want their utterly unfair contracts exposed let alone subjected to judicial scrutiny.

Simon England, Lawyer, Nelson, Mother in Ilam Rest Home, Christchurch.

Margaret C.
07 Feb 2021

As soon as soon as anyone complains the industry pays out? Not my experience at all.

Denis K.
06 Feb 2021

Most of this analysis strikes as a gripe along the lines of 'You have something, I want some of it'. Consumers (families) have a choice. Don’t move your elderly relative in to a retirement village. Its very simple. Families will have to care for their elderly relative in their own homes. They will not always be able go on holiday when they want as they will have to look after their elderly relative. Make sure they don’t get lonely. Take them out for outings. Take them shopping. Bring in other people to entertain them. In other words spend a lot of their free time with their elderly relative and not always doing what they want to do.

The business model for these villages does not give exceptional returns. There is a lot of competition in what looks like a pretty efficient market to me. The listed names and a host of private operators.

This is a beat up. People want their elderly relative cared for by someone else so they can still have their personal freedom and no responsibility, at the lowest possible cost. That does not work as we see many of the church based not for profits closing. A business has to make a profit to enable it to survive and reinvest for the future and to continue to exist. Will it be back to the rest homes of 1980s with 4 or 6 to a room.

Michele T.
06 Feb 2021
Another view

My parents are currently considering retirement village options. Absolutely their decision, no-one is moving them anywhere. They have their (perfectly understandable) reasons for this move. As their daughter I would absolutely want to know that they were treated fairly in terms of expectations of repairs etc while living there.

Peter S.
06 Feb 2021
Beat up?? rubbish

These modern shylocks running these villages would give scrooge a run for his money - talk about warehousing and asset stripping the elderly. There should be strong regulations, judicial reviews and harsh penalties for these people creating these elderly ghettos that the weak and frail often end up in. Personally I'd like to see the contracts reviewed and if unfair, the village assets seized, their owners deported to some asian hellhole (NZ Citizens or not!) and statutory managers responsible to the licencees put in place. It is currently nothing but rampant extortion of the elderly weak and frail.

Wilma M.
12 Feb 2021

In my experience (limited, I admit) it is the elderly choosing to move into retirement villages and choosing not to live reliant on their children. I certainly would choose independence over reliance.

Ross C.
27 Feb 2021
Reasonable Profits?

My mother is in a Retirement Village in Christchurch. She moved there about 15 years ago because she wanted to maintain her independence but the effort of maintaining her house and garden was getting too much, despite regular help from the family. As others have said, it was entirely her decision and not a case of family not wanting to help care for her - one of us visits at least weekly (usually more often) to help with shopping or anything else that needs doing.

It's not unreasonable that the Villages make a return on their investments and with the growing number of people in retirement the requirement for housing that is suited to the elderly is increasing. And for every resident moving into a village, it is freeing up housing for another family which is important given the current housing shortage. They are a business and in the interest of full disclosure, I have a few shares in several of the companies involved. They charge an ongoing fee to cover operational costs but I doubt there is much, if any, profit in that. It stands to reason that if they were not able to take a profit when the unit is sold then the weekly fees would probably need to be higher. The question that comes to my mind is how much profit on sale is reasonable?

As I said, Mum has been in the village for about 15 years. She is now rising 101, still in her own unit and is very happy she did so with eyes wide open regarding the "deferred management fee". It didn't seem too unreasonable at the time but I do wonder if there should be some limit on what could also be viewed as "windfall profits" during periods of high and rapid capital gain. This is not to say that the village is not entitled to any capital gain, but perhaps some formula whereby it is shared with the resident if it exceeds a certain level

Peter K H.
06 Feb 2021
Extra charges.

Rest and care homes add extra charges for rooms with their own toilet While I can understand that extra frequent cleaning charges may be needed, I think some of these are unreasonably high - I have heard one one which charges over $90.0 each day. Can this level of cost be justified ?

Margaret C.
04 Feb 2021
Transfer costs

The cost of moving from an independent apartment to a serviced one, or into care, is often unclear. This is also the case when circumstances change and a resident needs to move from one independent unit to another, or to another village belonging to the same operator. There may be transfer fees and other charges, and they may be huge. Also check if the village will buy back your current apartment as part of the transfer, or if you will have to pay the whole price of the new apartment upfront and wait for the old one to sell before you get anything back. How is the DMF pro-rated between the two apartments, and when is it charged? Get all this in writing before you sign on the dotted line - do NOT rely on oral assurances. This is from personal and very expensive experience.

Margaret C.
04 Feb 2021
Buying off-plan

As with any new development, not just retirement villages, there can be pitfalls here when the plans change after off-plan sales are under way. A fellow-resident at my village is directly facing the rubbish area, which was not shown on the plans. If it had been, he would have bought an apartment on the other side of his building. Other features which were shown on the plans were built differently than drawn, & for the worse. When he objected, the management agreed that he was right but said it was too late to change the plans.

Elaine S.
02 Feb 2021
A washing line? You must be kidding!

Your checklist includes checking that the washing line is easy to get to. Ha! ha! We don't have a washing line! Independent apartments all have a clothes drier, and we are expected to use that to dry all our washing. Or have a folding rack - inside the apartment. No such thing as drying the sheets & towels in the sun outside, let alone the clothes.

Or somewhere to wash the car & vacuum its insides.

Mike H.
02 Feb 2021
Virtual villages

In order to avoid these unfavorable terms and costs, and if you still operate with some independence, why no consider a member owned cooperative model or even stay in your own home and set up a virtual retirement village community. You can find some examples of successful virtual villages on line (popular in the US), where you pay a subscription to access the collective "village" services that might include transport for medical visits, organised social outings and other social connection, exercise classes, home maintenance, housekeeping and so on.

Rachael D.
02 Feb 2021
No surprises

Another example - and one which has been know about for a long time - of the discrimination practiced against older people (which in many cases starts from well before most would be contemplating a retirement home. Currently have the book Elder Law in NZ (Thomson Reuters) in my reading pile (needs refreshing as is 2014 dated). If Consumer can get some traction on this it would be wonderful.

02 Feb 2021
Unfair Increases in Monthly Fees

When my Mum was alive and living at a Somerset Village, there were a number of meetings held for residents to discuss the good and bad things with the complex. One of the issues that always was brought up by my Mum and fellow residents was the fact that when Retirement Pensions were increased by the Govt, in turn Somerset appeared to increase their regular fees. Why should this be the case? If my wages go up, my bank does not increase my mortgage payments by the percentage of income increase, so why should Somerset appear to be taking advantage of increase of their income streams?

Wolfgang J.
02 Feb 2021
Summerset fees increase !

Tell me... is that increase in percent of what you get... or are “they” taking the “lot” ???

Virginia V W.
02 Feb 2021
Retirement Villages

I have many friends in Retirement villages who are very happy in them. I visit a friend who is in the hospital section and have some dismay at how things pan out there.
1. Most of the things that are not so good are because they are a business and as such need to make a profit for their share holders, so staff are generally at a minimum
2. Residents are not restrained in their chairs as this is now unlawful, however they do have their chairs tilted so far back that they cannot get out of them, no matter how much they struggle. If they had more staff they would be able to monitor unsettled behaviour and modify the situation to the residents advantage. ie needing the toilet, uncomfortable bottom from sitting for long periods, stiff legs etc
3. The residents are put into incontinence pants rather than being taken to the toilet at regular intervals. if a resident says they want to go to the toilet the OT takes them out of the 'occupation circle' and calls a carer to take the resident to the toilet, the carer is in the middle of doing something which she finishes before responding to the residents need. Elderly people often have urgency and it is unfair to ignore this requirement for an urgent visit to the toilet when other tasks take precedence.
4. Residents who do not sleep well are often given more sedation so they are not 'troublesome' during the night, this had flow on effects with drowsiness during the day.
5. Residents walking is restricted for fear of falling, so the resident gradually becomes completely chair bound. Especially if they have had a fall. the need for a "good" record as a company is more highly rated than the importance of exercise for brain and body well being! If there were enough staff they could keep the resident walking for much longer but because they are risk averse the residents lose their abilities very quickly, becoming weak and unable to walk, this hastens the residents demise. Put bluntly this will, of course, increase the company turnover.
6. Atul Gawande author of "Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End" should be compulsory reading for all who work or manage retirement homes. Quality of life is the desired goal.
7. In fairness to the company the staff are very good to the families when a relative dies, making rooms available for grieving and supplying food and drinks without it being requested.
8. When a resident from another part of the 'village' (townhouse/ apartment) needs hospital care, the staff are very solicitous and caring. It would seem it is easier to be a good carer when the caring required is of short duration.
9. I am 80 and dread the thought of losing my independence, and hope that I can go on taking 'risks' until I die.

Remo Casale
04 Feb 2021
Hospital level care

When my mother was required to leave her rest home, she was put into a hospital (Bupa). Within a couple of days another resident from the same rest home was put into another ward of the same hospital.
Mum was put into a reclining chair and did not have the strength to put it into an upright position in order to leave the room for the toilet. Within three days she had a cough followed by pneumonia. None of the staff spoke kiwi English, and none had been working at that hospital for more than a few weeks.
We encountered the family of the other resident, and he too had been put in a reclining chair and succumbed to pneumonia.
Mum survived her 'care' for less than two weeks. Medication for pain took hours to get to her.

Mary F.
02 Feb 2021
Your Support Us button doesnt work

Wondered how I could support this commendable and long overdue endeavour.
So I click Support Us... And a blank page comes up?
I have considered a retirement village and figured that it would be cheaper to live in a hotel or motel, with a district nurse calling in if necessary. I look forward to hearing more and about which companies offer the best deal. Thanks.

Frank - Consumer staff
03 Feb 2021
Re: Your Support Us button doesn't work

Hi Mary,

Which button are you referring to? Our "Support our mission" widget at the bottom of this page allows you to donate, should you wish to support us. Please let us know if you're still having trouble.

Kind regards,
Frank - Consumer NZ staff

02 Feb 2021
Ex Retirement Village Director

Absolutely agree with everything written in this article. I find the whole industry to be upholders of "Elder Abuse." I tried to create a fair system but the majority of Retirement Village Owners are in it for the almighty dollar. The Government lets them get away with highway robbery. Its time for a major overhaul of the Retirement Industry. The mottos on the pretty brochures hide the abuse.

Wolfgang J.
02 Feb 2021

Thank you for speaking up !

Sylvia J.
02 Feb 2021
Our Family experience with a Bupa Retirement Village in Auckland

Great idea to review. My Mother bought into a Bupa Village and she could either have a no capital gains contract or a capital gains contract for an extra $30,000 which she couldn't afford. When it sold she got 80% of what she paid, back. They then sold it for nearly double what she paid all profit for them. She paid her weekly $120 fee and had to pay all the maintenance costs except for water blasting the outside once a year. She had to buy her own curtains/drapes plus $5,000 for the repainting before she moved in. When she moved out she had to pay $20,00 for refurbishing the unit eg new stove, painting, new carpet etc for the next person. When we questioned it all they got quite cross and asked "Well how else do we make a profit as after all, we are a Business and not in it for love". She could have not moved in but she had just sold her house and needed to be somewhere secure and where help was close by. Because of waiting lists they did sell it within six weeks but of course we still had to pay her weekly fees for that time even though she was not using any services. They guaranteed that if it didn't sell within 6 months the fees would stop at that stage.

Peter M.
02 Feb 2021
Metlife are VERY slow to sell a unit

After my mother had a stroke she needed to move to another facility with hospital level care. Metlife showed no interest in selling her unit as the fees kept on coming while it was not sold. I threatened to list it on TradeMe but they said I was not not permitted to do that as we didn't own the unit just had a licence to occupy. I asked why they didn't list it on TradeMe and they said well we need to assess it first. This is many months after my mother moved out. They make more money by going as slow as possible.

Susan O.
06 Feb 2021
Will never go near MetLife again!

They have been on Fair Go for this disgusting practice which is money in their pockets for no out going costs!
I could write a book on how they ripped off two of my close elderly reletives - down to the ridiculous charge when four of us in attendance were registered nurses and got in our own GP for the person who literally put her head in the door when our father died. Surely she was working anyhow! Why charge for that as well as numerous other things never even delivered I his last week!

Margaret C.
02 Feb 2021

A further point here is that the chattels - carpets, oven etc - may already be several years old when the resident moves in, yet they become responsible for replacing or repairing them when they wear out. This could be after only a few years, and further increases the unfairness.

Jenny W.
02 Feb 2021
Retirement villages

They are not for everyone. A great many people leave it too late until they are very frail & then have to move in, making the move more stressful. Many people mistakenly call them rest homes. Most of my family are overseas, I retired from my job several months after moving in and I have absolutely no regrets. I am in one of the ‘major players’ smaller older villages, it is friendly & homely. The staff are outstanding & when you first move in, management & residents make you very welcome. Like anywhere they are not perfect, they are a business. Staff went out of their way to solve two appliance problems and I was not charged a penny. Also many elderly are talked out of moving to a village as their family do not want “their” inheritance disappearing. I no longer have to worry about noisy inconsiderate neighbours and continuous maintenance. Works for me.