Category: aged care legal

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


I think it’s time mum or dad got some help

Welcome to 2017.  Many of us will have seen our parents over the summer break and noticed that things don’t seem to be going that well at home for them any more.  Maybe it is time to start looking for help.

Your parents may have been coping on their own for many years, but you might have noticed  some things recently that make you worry. Their increasing forgetfulness, the state of their home or their frailty may be starting to worry you.  If any of this sounds familiar, it’s time to start thinking and talking about aged care.

This is a big decision in your mum or dad’s life, so it’s important you start talking to them about their options as soon as possible. Otherwise, you may find you need to make the decision in a rush after an adverse health event and that means they will probably have to compromise.

Your parents may be able to cope better with help at home and that can often be enough to give the family peace of mind and help parents come to terms with getting older and needing help.  They might be considering moving into a smaller home and are thinking of a retirement village or an aged care facility.

The transition to aged care isn’t straightforward.  Understanding the options and knowing where to start is often confusing and difficult.

That’s where Signpost comes in.  We can help you understand the options so you can make an informed choice and we can manage the whole transition for you including helping you to select the best provider,  negotiating the terms with the provider and doing the paperwork.

So if you’re contemplating aged care for a loved one and don’t know where to start – don’t delay. Call us today on 1800 744 676 for an obligation-free chat on how we can assist you and your family to get the best aged care outcome.


Until next time,

Sara and Margaret



Aged care complaints | Is your parent complaining about their aged care provider?

Sometimes elderly people complain because they want attention from others, especially their own children, or because they are frightened or lonely.  If you know that the care that is being provided is good, it can be sufficient if you just listen to the complaint or try to distract them from complaining with some activity such as taking them out for a walk or playing a game of chess with them.

Other times the complaint is real.  So what do you do?   We suggest you follow the list below in order and, if the complaint is not satisfied at that level, proceed to the next level on the list. It is always a good idea to have a written record of the complaint and, in our experience, written complaints are more likely to result in an outcome. If the complaint is not in writing, you can send a note afterwards reiterating the complaint and/or keep a file note of your conversation.

1. Start with the director of nursing for residential care or the case manager for home care.  You can either call and make an appointment or write a letter or email.
2. Contact the manager of the facility or service provider.
3. Get in touch with the Aged Care Advocacy service in your State or Territory.  These advocacy services are usually free of charge and can provide you with help with your complaint or speak to the service provider on your behalf.  Information about your local aged care advocacy service is available here:
4. Contact the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner:

If you require assistance, you can contact us at

Until next week

Sara and Margaret

DVA Cardholders

If you are a DVA Cardholder, you may be entitled to receive subsidised services from DVA. Call DVA on 1300 550 450 to discuss your needs.

Moving into aged care? Would you buy a home and not get advice?

In recent months, we have received a number of enquiries for assistance from people after they or their loved one has moved into care permanently. Often that is too late to do much about it.

We know that the vast majority of people go into aged care unplanned. They have had a fall or stroke or some other traumatic event, gone to hospital and been told they cannot return home. The hospital requires them to move out in a specified period so there is often a rush to find a place for a loved one and get everything done in time. The family is given the agreement and told they have to sign it before the person enters care or the agreement is produced after they enter care but have already agreed to a number of things. In either case, once you have moved into care, your options and your negotiating position are reduced significantly.

Entering into aged care is a significant cost and it is the same as buying a house – it is the place whee you or your loved one will live. Most people would not take the risk of buying a house without getting a lawyer or other suitably qualified professional involved. So get advice before you make any commitment to enter into aged care.

Until next time.

Sara and Margaret