Can’t move residents on: what can retirement village operators do if residents’ care needs increase?

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With more retirement living operators expected to move into assisted living on the back of the recommendations from the Aged Care Royal Commission, more will face the dilemma: what can you do when a village resident needs to enter residential care?

A recent panel session for Retirement Living Council members debated this point – and there are no easy answers.

Anita Courtney (pictured above), Aged Care & Home Care Principal at Russell Kennedy Lawyers, warned that while security of tenure arrangements state that an operator has the right to terminate a contract when a resident’s care needs increase, the reality is that this is almost impossible if a resident will not leave the village.

Village operators have two options: take the resident to the tribunal or obtain a guardianship order.

Anita’s preference is for the latter option – though it can take some months – because of the negative PR that can result from trying to ‘kick them out’.

There is a third option too – avoid allowing the resident to overstay their time in the village in the first place.

This can create a greater duty of care for the operator, Anita said.

“Duty of care comes down to the nature of the service contract,” she added.

“Operators need to be very clear about what services you do. Providing pro bono type services is where you may create a messy situation and the duty of care may need to continue.”

This line can be hard to distinguish however, particularly with many people staying at home longer receiving higher-level Home Care Packages (HCPs).

Add in the expectation that villages should provide ‘care’ and it appears likely that more operators will face these kinds of decisions.

You can watch the full, 55-minute session here.