New guidelines look to engage residents to improve retirement villages

Australia’s ageing population means that the demand for Australian retirement villages is ever-growing.

Presently, 200,000 Australians live in retirement villages, and with the latest census data revealing that approximately 17.2 per cent of the nation’s population is above the age of 65, this residency figure is likely to stretch further. 

In response to such demand, the Retirement Living Council, a section of the Property Council of Australia, has released an industry blueprint that looks to guide redevelopment opportunities for retirement villages, especially considering the increasing difficulty faced when trying to access affordable land and planning approvals.

According to Ben Myers, executive director of retirement living at the Property Council of Australia, the residential and community engagement for retirement village redevelopment guidelines were created to address and overcome the challenge of updating and upgrading older retirement villages.

“The average retirement village in Australia is 26 years old, and there is increasing pressure to find ways to make sure many older villages remain viable and able to meet modern expectations about housing styles, community facilities and healthy ageing,” Mr Myers said.

He asserted that meaningful engagement with residents is crucial to a successful village redevelopment as it reduces upheaval, anxiety, and stress for all stakeholders. Mr Myers indicated that empowering residents through consultation and involvement is not just to establish and maintain relationships, but also to ensure successful outcomes for all stakeholders. 

“While each redevelopment project is different, engagement with residents throughout the planning, construction and post-construction phase often makes the difference between great, good, and bad outcomes,” he said. 

The Resident and Community Engagement for Retirement Village Redevelopments report describes how: “The Code provides that retirement community operators should take steps to ensure there is consultation with residents in relation to any proposed action or change that could have a significant impact on the residents’ financial affairs, the amenity of the community, or their way of life.”

Boosting retirement village capabilities provide much-needed benefits to all involved parties, including improved inter-resident connectivity, improved technology and amenities and more diverse housing options, amongst other advantages. 

The latest guidelines come as a recent report detailed how many older Australians were being left in the lurch by the rental market, causing many to feel powerless, a trend that may force an increasing number of Australians into aged care and retirement village facilities as the years progress and the crisis worsens.

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