Wisdom from John Collyns, NZ’s RVA

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In New Zealand, the four listed retirement village operators (Ryman, Arvida, Summerset and Metlifecare) are amongst the best performing companies on their stock exchange (the NZX).

This reflects the near universal acceptance of retirement villages as a positive product in the ageing journey. They have also embraced the continuum of care model.

At the RLC conference the long-term Executive Director of NZ’s Retirement Village Association, John Collyns, gave his assessment of the RLC’s initiatives in the face of media and resident criticism. He said:

  • the 8 Point Plan gets a tick from him
  • accreditation – he commends it being compulsory for all village operators. It is the cornerstone for residents and operators in negotiations and the relationship with government.
  • complaints – they have a mature, transparent process. John says we need one.

Most importantly we need to promote our value proposition to the public.

In NZ an 80-year-old wants:

  • a safe place to live
  • money to live on
  • a path to care
  • an operator with a ‘social licence’

He emphasised the importance of ‘social licence’, which he defined as:

“The ability of an organisation (or industry) to carry on its business because of the confidence society has that it will behave in a legitimate, accountable and socially and environmentally acceptable way”.

“It does not just derive from a need for legal or regulatory compliance but takes into account the inputs from a wider group of stakeholders and a sense of transparency and accountability in its external reporting”.

“It is the foundation for acquiring operational certainty, realising future opportunities and lowering risk for the business.”

He gave the examples of the tobacco industry (zero social licence) and banks.

He told us:

“We do work hard with the media, the public and stakeholders to create the most positive conditions we can for villages to flourish”.

“These include public meetings in conjunction with the regulator to educate intending residents on the regulatory aspects of village life, meetings with provincial journalists to talk about village development in their area and what’s driving it, articles in stakeholder journals such as the Probus Club’s magazines, Grey Power newsletters, Office for Senior Citizens’ website and the like, and editorial stories about aspects of village benefits such as equity release, combating social isolation, and affordable housing provision”.

“There’s no single silver bullet of course, but (we are enjoying) the accumulation of years of communication”.

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