A view on retirement villages

An independent view on retirement villages

Over the past few weeks, articles about retirement villages have received a lot of press and most of it was unfavourable.  As independent advisers, we have been asked on numerous occasions whether we think the articles have been fair.  So here is what we think.

Social isolation is the single biggest issue for our ageing population.   Retirement villages go a long way towards solving that issue for its residents.  The residents are part of a community, they probably get some supports (like general maintenance of the common areas and some social activities) and they feel safe.  The residents are also able to continue to live independently.  These things are priceless and can make for a happy old age.

Independent living

Retirement villages are usually independent living, so stories about how a person was left in their unit after a medical event and not found for several days can happen because the resident chose to remain independent.  Whilst many retirement villages are equipped with emergency all buttons, sometimes things happen which mean that button cannot be activated.  Some retirement villages are using technology to detect these events without the need to activate a call button.

It does become confusing because some retirement villages offer care services which the resident generally has to agree to and pay for additionally.  In that case, if the resident had agreed to those care services and they had not been delivered,  it would wrong for a person to be left undetected for a period of time.

Retirement Villages can be very expensive

Retirement village agreements are contract based so the residents get what the contract says they will get and the resident pays what the contract says they will pay.  Most retirement village contracts do require payment of a deferred management fee and other costs when the resident leaves and it is not unusual in our experience for a resident to pay around 40% to 50% of the amount the the unit sells for and often the resident is paying outgoings and monthly fees for quite a while after they have left the village.  In our experience, retirement village units are generally less expensive to acquire than a similar freehold property in the same geographic location but, in our experience, do not appreciate as rapidly as other property.  There is no doubt they are not a sound financial investment.   They are a lifestyle investment.

Understand what you are buying

In terms of the resident entitlements, residents should look closely at the agreement (and get legal advice) about what exactly they are entitled to under the contract.  The contract may specify social events or services and it is important to understand what exactly the village is agreeing to provide.  The resident is not entitled to anything other than what is in the agreement (so, for example, if the resident is told there are free drinks for residents every Friday night, that might not be in the contract and, if it does say that in the contract, there is probably another clause that says that can change). Contracts will not say you will have a fabulous time in our village because of course that cannot be guaranteed. As residents usually go to a village for the community, it is really important that potential residents ensure they will fit in with the community before they move in.  It will not work if everyone else in the village speaks Swahili and you do not.  Most villages will give you an opportunity to meet other residents before signing up and we think that is one of the most important things to do before committing.  This can be a risk if the unit is being sold off the plan.

So, in summary, living in a retirement village can be great and might be the right choice for you.  They are expensive and you need to understand what you are getting and what you will be paying.  You should get legal advice before you sign the contract.  If you would like expert legal advice, call us on 1800 744 676.

Until next time

Sara and Margaret


Don’t understand aged care home care packages?

Here is some help to understand aged care home care packages.

There are 5 steps to complete before you start using a home care package:

  1. Be assessed by Aged Care Assessment Service/Team (ACAS/ACAT) or a Regional Assessment Service (RAS)  for eligibility for a home care package.  This assessment is done on behalf of the Federal Government (usually by a local hospital or council)and it is free.  The assessor comes to your home.  To book an assessment, call My Aged Care on 1800 200 422.
  2. Once you have been assessed as eligible, you will receive a letter from My Aged Care advising that you have been assessed as eligible.  This does not mean that you can access services yet.  It just means that you have been approved.  You need to wait until step 3 before you can do anything further.
  3. You will receive a further letter from My Aged Care advising you that a package has been allocated to you.  This letter has a unique referral code. It can take months for this letter to arrive – especially if the approved package is a level 3 or 4 package. Once you have the unique code, you can now start finding a provider who can supply services to you under the package.
  4. You need to call around to providers to find one who will meet your needs.  What you get from a package is negotiable.  Some providers might give you a lot more for your package than another so it is important that you shop around.  You should have a list of the things that you want from your package and talk to several providers to see who best meets your needs.
  5. You will need to reach an agreement with the provider – they will usually ask you to sign an agreement.  Once that is signed, you are ready to go!!!  If you are not happy with the provider and cannot resolve your complaints with them, you can move your package to another provider.

If you don’t have the time to shop around and find the best provider, we can do it for you.  If you need help, call us on 1800 744 676.

Until next time

Sara and Margaret

An update on aged care home care packages

Changes to the aged care home care package system

how to get the best from your home care package

On 27 February 2017, significant changes were made to home care packages for the aged in an effort to make packages more market driven and consumer focused. The most important change is that consumers now own their own packages, the package can be moved if the consumer relocates or is unhappy with a provider and a consumer can negotiate with providers to get what they want for the best price.

Update from the Department of Health on home care packages

The Department of Health administers the home care package system. In late March 2017, the department advised that it had released over 14,000 home care packages in March 2017 with the majority to consumers who had never previously held a home care package. The release also assigned packages to consumers who were currently receiving home care but were awaiting a package at their approved level.

The department also advised that it will now move to a more regular release schedule, with packages likely to be released weekly.

Information is not yet available on expected wait times or position in the queue. This is because the system is new and the department needs time to analyse the take up of home care packages, and ensure that meaningful information is available. The department has advised that data on wait times should be published in the second half of this year.

All clients who receive a package will receive a letter with a unique referral code. Consumers can then can either take their referral code to their chosen provider or ask the contact centre to send an electronic referral on their behalf. Consumers are encouraged to research and negotiate with providers using the service finders so they can get the most out of their package. Signpost can do that for you. Just call us on 1800 744 676 and ask about our home care package service.

Until next time

Margaret and Sara


Asking the right questions when looking at aged care

Making choices about aged care services can be complex and overwhelming. A new resource ’10 Questions to ask’, is trying to make the journey into residential care a little easier by helping consumers ask the right questions when considering their options.

The ’10 Questions to ask’ series, initiated by the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) and created in collaboration with nurses, doctors and experts with experience in aged care, was launched at the New South Wales Seniors Festival in March 2017.

There are a series of leaflets covering the question you can ask a facility when trying to decide which to choose. The leaflets cover topics ranging from questions about facilities and lifestyle, cultural needs, palliative care, staffing, contracts and fees, and GP services in residential aged care.

You can download the leaflets here


Until next time,


Sara and Margaret

Why should you use an aged care specialist?

Here are the top 5 reasons to use an aged care specialist:

  1. Save money and time

You will probably spend hours trying to work aged care out yourself and still not have the right answers. We understand and get the best out of entitlements and subsidies and can minimise the costs of receiving care and support.  Nearly all our clients recover our fees in savings we have obtained for them.

  1. Talk to someone who knows aged care

The aged care system in Australia is very complicated.  Trying to understand the options, how much they cost and whether they are right for you is really hard, especially if you are under time pressure to get things sorted out.  There is no website with all the answers, the Government My Aged Care service is limited in scope, hospitals are keen to move you on and the interface with providers is usually a sales person.  Many people ask their friends who have been through it already but every situation is different. Signpost Aged Care Services know aged care; how it works, what it costs, how it is funded and the pros and cons of each of the options.

  1. Get the right advice for your situation

Signpost gives reliable impartial advice tailored to your wants and needs.  We are independent of any service provider and do not receive or pay any commissions or incentives.

  1. Reduce stress and be happy

We ensure people receive the support and care they need. Both the care recipient and the family and/or carers can rest assured that the right decision has been made.

  1. Make sure you get what you want , the best care that you can afford

Signpost can help you avoid having to take only what you can get.  We will assist you to get the best available option so you can have your choices met ensuring you get the care and support you want.

Call Signpost Aged Care Services now on 1800 744 676 if you need help or just want to have an obligation free chat about your aged care issue.

Until next time

Sara and Margaret