The retirement living industry is currently on the verge of one of the most significant and positive steps-forward that the sector has ever seen thanks to the new Retirement Living Code of Conduct. 

The new code, that will take full effect from 1 January 2020, was finalised after an extensive 12-month development process including consultation with retirement village operators, residents and other interested stakeholders earlier this year – and will play an integral role in retirement communities being accredited under The Australian Retirement Village Accreditation Scheme (ARVAS) 

Managing Director of AEH Retirement Living and Vice President of the Retirement Living Council, Nicholas Playoust, spoke earlier today at Akolade’s 2nd Retirement Living Forum, and HelloCare was in attendance as he explained what the code of conduct is, and what retirement community residents can expect. 

“The Retirement Living Code of Conduct is about helping us implement regulation as an industry in a way that ensures high standards. The codes key objectives are to protect residents and provide trust in the industry and to create a framework,” said Nicholas.

The code itself is essentially a number of rules that retirement living operators can sign up to as a commitment to quality and transparency within their community.

The framework within the code can be broken down into four sections which mirror an individual’s retirement living journey, including General Provisions, Moving Into The Community, Living In The Community and Leaving the Community.

And while signing up to the code is not yet mandatory, operators will need to be signed up to the code in order to be ARVAS accredited. 

“The simplest way to talk about it is that the code of conduct is a self-assessment, and ARVAS is independently assessed,” said Nicholas.

The Australian Retirement Village Accreditation Scheme (ARVAS) is comprised of seven standards that retirement village and senior housing operators must meet in order to gain exclusive accreditation.

The standards are as follows:

  • Standard 1 – Community Management The Community is managed efficiently and effectively; the manager is a positive and proactive leader of the team with a strong customer service orientation.
  • Standard 2 – Human Resource Management – Employment management practices ensure that the quality and quantity of staff are sufficient to meet operational needs.
  • Standard 3 – Resident Entry and Exit – Processes for managing resident entry and exit are effective and focus on a positive resident experience.
  • Standard 4 – Resident Engagement and Feedback – Engages residents effectively.
  • Standard 5 – Environment, Services, and Facilities- The environment, service and facilities are managed in accordance with contractual obligations and managed effectively.
  • Standard 6 – Safety and Security – Processes for managing safety and security are effective.
  • Standard 7 – Resident Care (where applicable) – Residents receive safe, high-quality care consistent with their needs and preferences.

ARVAS replaces two previous schemes, Lifemark and International Retirement Community Accreditation Scheme (IRCAS), and will be independently assessed by the people at Quality Innovation Performance (QIP).

While the code intends to create certainty and transparency around processes for moving into communities, it will also play a key role in addressing issues regarding complaints and dispute resolution that can be common place in any community environment. 

“Of all the things that residents have spoken to us as operators and providers, the way in which we handle complaints and listen to customers has been flagged as a real key point,” said Nicholas.

“The aggravation that is suffered in most states is the fact that – beyond the informal processes – there is really just that state tribunals. Presidents have been looking for a mechanism to simplify the complaints handling process, so the code provides resources in helping operators put in place their own framework to handle complaints.”

“There is a mechanism for escalating complaints, and ultimately, they will end up with the code administrator in an attempt to provide the need for the lengthy and expensive process of going to a state tribunal.”

The new code is currently being rolled out and will take full effect from 1 January 2020.


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