The government entity of the retirement village denounces the “confused contracts”. Video / Supplied

Consumer NZ today filed a complaint with the Trade Commission over what it called “misleading” retirement village claims.

Jon Duffy, managing director of Consumer NZ, said a major selling point for many retirement villages is the nursing home facilities they provide if a resident can no longer live independently.

Advertising and marketing give the impression that care is guaranteed, he said.

This is not the case because it is the district health boards – not the owners / operators of retirement villages – who often decide whether someone can go to a hospital in a village, he said. declared.

The retirement village contracts reviewed by Consumer NZ found that they gave no assurance that elderly care would be available when needed.

“The contracts generally state that residents can be given priority for access to care beds, but there’s no guarantee you’ll get a bed if you need it,” Duffy said.

Complaints from villages risk misleading consumers about the availability of health care services, so the entity has requested an investigation under the Fair Trading Act.

The availability of care facilities for the elderly was an important factor for many people who moved to a retirement village, the Consumer study showed.

A 2020 survey of village residents found that half of those surveyed said access to elderly care services was a key factor in their decision to move to their village.

“Consumers should be able to trust claims made in advertisements for villages. However, residents are placed in situations where village health care promises are broken,” Duffy said.

If a care bed was not available in case of need, the resident had to leave his village.

The inability of villages to provide the promised care services was repeatedly raised by residents who participated in the Consumer NZ survey.

John Collyns, executive director of the Retirement Villages Association – the owner / operator lobby group – maintains a firm line against any reform.

“No, we don’t want to change anything, but we do recognize that there are things the industry could implement in terms of best practices around, for example, how long to renew or sell a unit.

“Rather than a set time, we could work with operators to develop best practices and the industry would put their own time guidelines in place,” Collyns said.

He took issue with criticism that contracts were unclear or that people were getting ripped off.

Consumer NZ said comments from respondents to its survey included:

• “The promised elderly care center, which was instrumental in my decision to agree to move to this village, has not been built (and is unlikely to materialize). “

• “Continuity of care” can be announced but is questionable … because of the beds available! “

• “Sales managers give certain impressions and statements which later prove to be false. For example, I was told that a care facility would exist if residents wanted it. That was not true. It won’t happen anyway. “

• “Too much promised at the completion of the 2018 health center – still years. We have been shown many changes from the original plan.”

• “I had asked if there would be hospital care, I said ‘yes’ at one point, now I said ‘no’.

A government minister also wants better contracts and a better complaints system so residents can voice their grievances and clearer contracts in the rapidly growing sector of multi-billion dollar retirement villages.

Poto Williams, Associate Minister of Housing (Public Housing), says these aspects should be changed.

“There are changes the industry could start to make on its own by strengthening complaint processes and reviewing contracts to ensure residents are treated fairly,” Williams told the Herald.

It was up to the owners / operators of dozens of New Zealand villages to act as the government had “no immediate plans” to reform the law, she said.

Williams was commenting ahead of the publication of a bids report on a call for major changes in a Commission For Financial Capability white paper.

The commission received 3,000 submissions when it said many aspects of the villages would need to change to make it fairer to residents and beneficiaries of family estates.

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This notice was published: 2021-09-15 03:32:00


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