Retirement villages’ care claims risk misleading consumers
Aged care not guaranteed despite villages’ marketing claims.
We’ve lodged a complaint with the Commerce Commission, calling for it to investigate retirement villages’ “continuum of care” claims.
A major selling point for many retirement villages is the rest home facilities they provide if a resident can no longer live independently. Villages are often promoted as providing a “continuum of care”.
Advertising claims create the impression this care is guaranteed. But that’s not the case: village contracts we’ve reviewed fail to give any assurance aged care will be available when it’s needed.
Contracts typically state residents may be given priority for access to care beds but don’t guarantee care.
“Take a weight off your mind knowing that if your needs change we have comprehensive care options that can be dialled up when needed.”
“Arvida communities provide a full continuum of care and can support residents who have a multitude of specific personal and health needs. Whatever your care requirements are, you’ll be in good hands.”
“It’s a wonderful feeling to know support is there if you need it. We provide you with village living the way you want, giving you peace of mind that more support is there if your care needs change.”
“With a full continuum of care you can rest assured that if your needs change then we can support you with our dedicated and professional staff.”
Claims risk misleading consumers
For many consumers making the move to a retirement village, the availability of aged care facilities is a significant factor.
In our 2020 survey of village residents, 50 percent picked access to aged care services as a key factor in their decision to move into their village.
However, we believe residents are being placed in situations where villages’ promises of healthcare when “needs change” aren’t being fulfilled.
In November 2019, we reported the case of an 86-year-old woman who had to leave her retirement village because no aged care bed was available at the facility when she needed it.
Villages’ failure to provide promised care services was raised several times by residents who participated in our survey. Comments included:
“The promised aged care facility, that was pivotal in my decision to agree to move to this village, has not been built (and is unlikely to eventuate).”
"‘Continuity of care’ may be advertised but is questionable ... due to beds available!”
“Sales managers give certain impressions and statements that later turn out not to be true. For example, I was told a care facility would happen if the residents wanted it. This was not true. It is not going to happen regardless.”
“Overpromised on completion of care centre 2018 - still years away. Many changes to the original plan we were shown.”
“I had asked, if there would be hospital care, told 'yes' at time now told 'no.'”
Fair Trading Act complaint
We’ve asked the Commerce Commission to investigate the “continuum of care” claims being made by retirement villages. In our view, these claims risk misleading consumers and breaching sections 11 and 13 of the Fair Trading Act.