A new industry body that will aim to assist the operators and the growing number of residents who are choosing to live in supported living communities is seeking foundation members.
Queensland based developer and operator, Tall Trees, is establishing the association after ongoing frustration with local, state and federal bureaucracy regarding residents ineligibility for some government assistance, and to ensure the industry maintains a professional culture.
Tall Trees director, Phil Usher, says there is now a growing number of supported living communities throughout the country with increasing interest from seniors, however their value in providing alternative housing remains largely unnoticed.
The supported living model is relatively new in Australia and is not a traditional aged care home or a traditional retirement village as it straddles both categories, Mr Usher says.
Residents purchase a long-term lease on their own private self-contained home with extensive neighbourhood facilities and expert medical care and household support, all delivered to their home, which is what really makes us unique and what they want.
Because of this some government departments classify our residents as renters while others classify them as property owners, disqualifying them for most avenues of pensioner support.
There is also increased confusion about the supported living concept from both retirees and the general public, and an industry body will ensure the models continued growth is properly managed on behalf of operators and residents.
The proposed Australian Supported Living Association (ASLA) requires foundation members from within the industry and associated community groups to represent, support and promote supported living on behalf of residents, operators and regulatory bodies.
Mr Usher says while there is a steady increase of people choosing to live in a supported living community, there is no uniform industry definition of what is meant by the term supported living.
As so often happens, innovations of the marketplace also outrun government legislatures, regulators and existing representative bodies, Mr Usher says.
While the concept of supported living remains constant across the country, all operate under different state-based legislation and existing associations might not meet the needs of this popular seniors living option.
We see a real requirement to ensure both residents and operators are able to be truly represented, and as such are looking to form this association for the benefit of all involved.
Tall Trees, which has communities in Rochedale and Tanah Merah south of Brisbane, and plans to expand the concept nationally, says supported living is a philosophy of care and services promoting independence and dignity.
As a relatively new concept, supported living neighbourhoods are also providing innovative and state-of-the-art communities in carefully planned and convenient locations.
Most include facilities such as large leisure centres with a restaurant, coffee shop, library, swimming pool and community facilities.
The operators also coordinate regular events and social outings, and most allow friends and families to stay for consecutive days. In many supported living communities small pets are also encouraged.
Mr Usher says Australia can become a world leader in this field by creating an industry group protecting the rights of supported living communities, ensuring certain standards are in place and met, and by actively driving the industry as a legitimate retirement option.
The importance of public perception cannot be underestimated if this model of retirement living is to continue to grow, Mr Usher says.
There are also a range of opportunities through economies of scale, marketing, training and accreditation and political lobbying that are not presently being addressed.
We encourage any interested operators or community organisations involved in aged care to contact us to help get the association up and running.
For further information contact Tall Trees on 07 5593 0588.