Retirement villages play a significant role in the Australian aged care sector, providing a level of care that's difficult to obtain in the home.
Typically, there are various levels of care, easily accessible doctors and dedicated staff that check in around the clock.
Given the high level of support, retirement villages are going to continue to play an important role over the next few years as the population over the age of 65 swells.
This article will take a look at historical aged care, and what's happening in South Australia as public consultation opens for the Retirement Villages Act review.
Understanding the review is certainly important for those involved in the running of retirement villages and residents.
Historical aged care
Australian retirement villages have been around for a substantial amount of time, even though they've started to proliferate in recent years. In fact, according to Retirement Living, they have actually been around for centuries, with Australian Royal Freemasons providing cottages for the elderly as far back as 1860.
Over time, the need for retirement villages continued to grow, and the first retirement village body formed in Victoria. New South Wales followed with an association, which led to conferences and eventually the Retirement Village Association (RVA).
In time, other state bodies were folded into the RVA, creating a national organisation.
In South Australia, a new Retirement Villages Act is set to replace the older Retirement Villages Act 1987. It could mean substantial changes for the sector.
The new South Australian retirement villages act
The review process for the Retirement Villages Act 1987 has been extensive, with a select committee established in 2013.
State Member for Morphett Duncan McFetridge explained that the act provides a "balance between the rights and responsibilities of residents, retirement villages and administering authorities."
Now, public consultation has opened for the act, with Minister for Ageing Zoe Bettison explaining in a release that the new bill will provide greater protections for residents.
"Since the original Act was implemented in 1987, the industry has evolved significantly and for this reason a Retirement Villages Bill 2015 is proposed to replace the existing Act," she explained.
"The development of the Bill has been guided by the recommendations of the Parliamentary Select Committee on the retirement village industry and the State Government's response to them."
She went on to explain how the new recommendations acknowledge the need for act reforms based on a variety of submissions from various bodies within the aged care sector.
"This will enhance information disclosure requirements, provide tighter definitions and improve consumer protections," she said.
There's no denying that this reform means good news for both residents and those in charge of retirement villages, although further reforms will likely be required sometime in the near future.
Members of the public will be able to have their say with regards to the act through until 24 April 2015. Following this, the changes are expected to be introduced at the end of 2016, following further adjustments.
The aged care sector is one Australian industry that has continued to evolve since it first rose to prominence, and there are no shortage of changes on the horizon.
With population numbers climbing higher every year, and facilities needing to establish funding sustainability and allocate the necessary places, acts like the one explained above will prove useful. Continuous refinement will likely play a critical role in ensuring the aged care sector can meet ongoing demand.
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