In a gently provocative speech, Kathryn Greiner put forward some colourful thoughts to the Property Council audience which was perhaps too timid to respond.
Referencing her Report into the retirement village sector she made the following points:
“You have a reputational risk”. Practices like not making the retirement village contract available before the family home is sold is not good practice. “Everybody wants transparency”.
“Dispute resolution is the big issue”. She supports the Department of Consumer Affairs establishing a website where all disputes are registered, with length of time to resolve and the result published.
“A compulsory register (at village level) may be needed – to name and shame”.
She also supports a village asset register – to identify capital items that the operator will be responsible for.
“You have a fantastic opportunity to position yourself for the future. The government has done its job. The responsibility is yours and yours alone”.
She noted the Retirement Living Council is working on its Code of Conduct: however, “it’s not perfect”.
She quoted the show of hands result from the town hall meetings of residents across the state.
“85% said they would join a village again if they had their time over but only 60% said they would join the same village”.
Ms Greiner returned to two of her regular themes: retirement villages and care, and apartments.
In essence she thinks the village sector is kidding itself thinking that ‘care’ is fundamental to its business model. “You have a reputational risk. Everybody thinks it’s ‘care’. No, it’s not. It’s a property play. It’s not about care”.
The inference is that village operators are solely concerned about the financial model around property; the value and investment in care is an illusion.
Michael Rabey, COO of AEH Retirement Living and NSW Chair of the Retirement Living Committee for the Property Council, was the only person to push back on this commentary.
Ms Greiner also returned to her view that apartments will be a competitor with retirement villages if the sector doesn’t get its message right, fast.