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Consumer NZ lodges complaint over retirement villages’ care

Consumer NZ lodged a complaint today with the Commerce Commission, asking it to investigate retirement villages’ aged care claims.

A major selling point for many retirement villages is the rest home facilities they provide if a resident can no longer live independently.

Consumer NZ chief executive Jon Duffy said villages’ advertising and marketing creates the impression this care is guaranteed, but that’s often not the case.

Retirement village contracts reviewed by Consumer NZ found they failed to give any assurance aged care would be available when needed.

“Contracts typically state residents may be given priority for access to care beds but there’s no guarantee you’ll get a bed if you need it,” Duffy said.

Consumer NZ believes villages’ claims risk misleading consumers about the availability of care services. It’s asked the commission to investigate villages’ aged care claims under sections 11 and 13 of the Fair Trading Act.

Consumer NZ research showed the availability of aged care facilities was a significant factor for many people making the move to a retirement village.

In its 2020 survey of village residents, 50 percent of respondents said access to aged care services was a key factor in their decision to move into their village.

“Consumers should be able to rely on claims made in villages’ advertising. However, residents are being placed in situations where villages’ promises of healthcare aren’t being fulfilled,” Duffy said.

If a care bed wasn’t available when needed, the resident would have to leave their village.

Villages’ failure to provide promised care services was raised several times by residents who participated in Consumer NZ’s survey. Respondents’ comments included:

  • “The promised aged care facility, that was pivotal in my decision to agree to move to this village, has not been built (and is unlikely to eventuate).”
  • “‘Continuity of care’ may be advertised but is questionable ... due to beds available!”
  • “Sales managers give certain impressions and statements that later turn out not to be true. For example, I was told a care facility would happen if the residents wanted it. This was not true. It is not going to happen regardless.”
  • “Overpromised on completion of care centre 2018 – still years away. Many changes to the original plan we were shown.”
  • “I had asked, if there would be hospital care, told ‘yes’ at time, now told ‘no’.”

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