CFFC investigating issues raised by Merivale Retirement Village bed shortfall

Merivale RV v2

As the monitor the retirement village industry on behalf of government, CFFC says the current case of residents of a Christchurch rest home having to find new accommodation at short notice highlights the need for clearer communication.

Residents of Merivale Retirement Village were told in a letter on February 14 that they may need to move out by April 1 due to a replacement care facility not having enough beds. The Commission for Financial Capability (CFFC), which performs a monitoring role of the retirement village industry on behalf of government, is currently investigating the interface between independent living and care facilities in villages.

Troy Churton CFFC CFFC’s National Manager of Retirement Villages, Troy Churton, says the committee working on the investigation, which includes representatives of the industry, agree that village contracts need to be clearer in detailing how residents in independent units can access village care facilities if they need to.

“Anyone thinking of moving into a retirement village because it also has a care facility on site needs to seek as much information as they can about their right to access to that care facility should they need to, because the current disclosure requirements need improvement,” says Churton. “It’s a key part of the independent legal advice you need to receive before signing a village contract.”

Retirement village owners have increasingly included rest home care facilities in their developments, even though they fall under a different regulatory regime and cost structure. CFFC oversees retirement villages; district health boards and the Health and Disability Commissioner oversee rest homes.

Churton says this has created confusion at the interface between the two, such as how a village resident qualifies to move into the care facility, and the extra costs that may apply. He selected this issue to focus on in his annual monitoring report, which will be delivered to the Minister responsible for retirement villages, Hon. Phil Twyford, in June.

In the case of Merivale, Churton is in touch with the village operators and the statutory supervisor who oversees residents’ interests.

“The supervisor consented to the operator’s proposed redevlopment three years ago and I understand there has been a process of the operator buying back licences to occupy from village residents as they have passed away or moved into care during that time, which might have helped reduce the extent of the shortfall they have today,” says Churton.

“When the village operators rebuilt the care facility they may have underestimated the demand it would have, and while they are working hard to mitigate the issues this has caused for residents who now need to find alternative care, it would have been preferable if they had raised the shortfall months earlier.”