The new retirement village – is it a way of life or is it support for New Zealand style care under new management?

Suzanne Dvorak, the new CEO of Stockland’s 58-village portfolio, now owned by Swedish investment fund EQT, points to a greater care component in their villages, given her crash course in elderly care which has led Bupa’s 72 aged care homes through COVID-19. But Levande’s new website and press releases emphasize that people will join its villages not for the care but for the ‘lifestyle’.

We suspect it’s the sizzle of offering a fresh start for their many villages which are now over 30 years old, meaning the average age of their residents will likely be in the 70s and 80s. Care support will be what they really want, not their lifestyle.

Suzanne also led Australian Unity’s Retirement Living business when it opened Rathdowne Place and Drummond Place, a co-located care village and area in Melbourne that set the benchmark for vertical developments (we have filmed a section of our TV series last week).

EQT also owns Metlifecare in New Zealand and therefore has first-hand knowledge of the strength of the continuum of care village model. New Zealand CEO Earl Gasparich is a very experienced “growth” executive, and he will have good advice for Suzanne.

Meanwhile, the elephant in the room, the big non-profits in the care world, are all moving away from the future development of residential care towards supported living in villages. Discover the volume of projects being developed by Uniting NSW & ACT, Bolton Clarke, and now Anglicare in Sydney under new CEO Simon Miller.

Sales volumes and record prices achieved by private aged care operators delivering under the Retirement Villages Act prove that care aid is selling, while the after-age lifestyle 70 is less attractive.

This will be much more the case when the new star rating system for residential aged care begins later this year; it is expected that all nursing homes for the elderly will only get an average of two stars at best, given the rating criteria. Expect a flood of people looking for alternative accommodation in the villages with support – not a lifestyle.

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