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Thursday, December 7, 2023

National retirement village accreditation scheme inspiring confidence in older Australians

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The first retirement villages have been awarded Australian Retirement Village Accreditation Scheme (ARVAS) accreditation, giving confidence to residents and guaranteeing the provision of reliable and quality services.

As part of the scheme’s development process, an entirely new set of Standards has been devised to reflect the different elements of a resident’s experience and the evolving service offering within communities.

The ARVAS Standards are designed to work directly with the Retirement Living Code of Conduct, which is the sector’s self-assessment tool, and comprise seven quality areas:

  • Community Management
  • Human Resource Management
  • Resident Entry and Exit
  • Resident Engagement and Feedback
  • Environment, Services and Facilities
  • Safety and Security
  • Resident Care (when applicable)

Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) CEO Sean Rooney said the retirement living sector is committed to providing great services for retirees and older Australians living in age-friendly communities.

“This is a celebration for these first accredited retirement villages and their residents,” he said.

“Congratulations to them. It is a value proposition and a competitive advantage having accreditation.

“ARVAS is about trust in villages, a lifestyle with self-confidence and passion for ensuring safety and quality in retirement communities.”

Ben Myers, executive director of Retirement Living at the Property Council of Australia, says that the ARVAS accreditation, as the single-industry accreditation scheme, now has the opportunity to prove its effectiveness.

“Industry adopting this robust accreditation scheme brings about an excellent opportunity,” he said.

“This is certainly something to be celebrated and I look forward to the ARVAS Standards and accreditation continuing to grow.

“ARVAS provides Australia’s age-friendly purpose-built communities with the tools to continue to prosper.”

ARVAS is co-owned by the Property Council of Australia and Leading Age Services Australia (LASA), and is operated on their behalf by Quality Innovation Performance Limited (QIP), a not-for-profit provider of independent accreditation services.

The villages receiving first accreditation under ARVAS are Cardinia Waters (Pakenham, Victoria) and Anglicare villages including Wollondilly Gardens (Goulburn, NSW), Brindabella Court (Downer, ACT) and St David’s Close (Red Hill, ACT).

John Vilskersts, general manager of Seniors Living Anglicare NSW South, NSW West and ACT, said the Property Council of Australia, Leading Age Services Australia and QIP are to be commended for this sector-based initiative.

“The skill set and sector experience that the QIP audit team brought with them added to the overall relevance, especially in their interactions with residents and staff and through what has been a supportive and educative process,” Vilskersts said.

“Overall, this has been a long but worthwhile process to demonstrate and validate Anglicare’s commitment to our values and how we can best serve our residents with their interest foremost in our dealings with them.

“Achievement of ARVAS accreditation has positioned us well to now proceed with the ongoing task ahead of continuous quality improvement.”

Manny Vella, village manager of Cardinia Waters, said it was a big bonus for their retirement village.

“Overall the village has embraced the whole accreditation process from our residents committee to our volunteers and the village staffing team, all supporting the process,” he said.

“The new QIP portal was easy to navigate and allowed us to also monitor key milestone dates and important timelines.

“You always think your village is performing to the best standards but the process just confirms many aspects of what villages really need to do.”

QIP Group Chief Executive, Dr Stephen Clark, offered his congratulations to the Anglicare and Cardinia Waters retirement villages for leading the way in achieving accreditation against the ARVAS Standards.

“This is a great milestone for the villages and sends a strong signal to residents, families and friends that they are committed to placing continual quality improvement at the heart of everything they do,” Clark said.

“We join with LASA and the Property Council of Australia to commend the unified action of management and staff from each of the villages.

“ARVAS accreditation is a significant undertaking and its successful outcome is one that should be celebrated by all involved.

“We are now working with numerous retirement villages of all sizes and types across Australia to support them through the ARVAS accreditation process.”

ARVAS began in October 2019 but COVID-19 has slowed the implementation.

Organisations wishing to apply for accreditation under ARVAS must be an active subscriber to the Retirement Living Code of Conduct (the Code).

Almost 700 villages across the country are registered for the Code and it is estimated that more than 50 per cent of older Australians in retirement villages are residing in a Code-compliant community.

The Code brings another element to an industry that already works so hard to give residents what they deserve.

Age-friendly, secure and purpose-built accommodation in communities designed to accommodate Australians are becoming more and more important. 

Retirement village operators are being urged to sign up for the Code of Conduct to certify their communities as Code compliant.

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