Ageing in place – Can you keep living in your retirement village if your needs increase?

Dean Claughton, Isabella Krstanovski

Many people who have considered living in a retirement village have also considered the prospect of potentially needing to move into an aged care facility if their health deteriorates. The sector is responding accordingly, with many providers offering potential residents the option to ‘age in place’, removing the stress of the need to relocate at a later point (not to mention the associated stress of researching care options, moving costs, etc). Basically, this means that aged care can quite literally be provided in a way that means you can stay in the retirement village of your choice, with extra care delivered to your doorstep! Before delving into how the system works however, it is important to understand how a retirement village operates.  

How do retirement villages operate?

A retirement village is a cluster of accommodation units and facilities which cater to the needs of people who are commonly aged 60 years and over.  In addition to providing accommodation units, retirement villages also provide other services such as household maintenance and 24-hour emergency assistance along with leisure facilities such as gymnasiums, pools and gardens. Extra fees known as recurrent charges are paid by residents for these facilities and maintenance needs. 

How to lease or own a retirement village unit

The two most common ways to lease or own a retirement village unit are through either leasehold agreements or through owning the unit in the village. Leasehold arrangements run for 99 years and the resident has rights to exclusive possession of the unit.  On the other hand, through ownership (also known as freehold or strata), the resident must pay stamp duty.  As a result, the resident owns the village unit outright. 

Is a retirement village offering aged care services the new way to go? 

This new form of a retirement village known as ‘private aged care’ operates as follows:

The question is however, how these extra payments benefit the resident. Since extra health care will be provided by the retirement village if the resident’s health needs increase, residents won’t be forced to relocate to an aged care facility in order to obtain suitable care. As a result, families don’t need to worry about finding suitable aged care, and couples can remain together since 24-hour care and other lifestyle care is provided directly by the retirement village.  

Ultimately, the additional service offerings give residents a more expansive range of choices, right in the community they have chosen to live in. 

Are you still legally covered?

State retirement village legislation ensures that the retirement village industry is regulated. Areas which are regulated include, but are not limited to, the regulation of service fees and termination of living arrangements. 

However, due to the nature of the weekly payments, it is important to understand exactly what you’re entering into and planning (as best as possible) what kind of aged care you may need in the future.

On a final note, it’s important to remember that not all retirement villages offer this option to begin with. If you’re interested in ageing in place, please do your research before signing the dotted line!

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