AgedAdvisor is about to launch a new tool that allows users to compare entry ages, purchase price ranges, deferred fee models and weekly maintenance charges. However the Retirement Villages Association thinks comparing these features is not so straightforward.

AgedAdvisor, established by Nigel Matthews last year, is a website that compares aged care facilities and retirement villages based on independent reviews made by the general public. Last year, AgedAdvisor launched its first annual awards for facilities based on the reviews.

Its latest tool seeks to help the public make informed decisions about retirement villages. Currently the AgedAdvisor team has data for over 60 per cent of New Zealand retirement villages, provided by providers and residents, but they are eager to verify the information before the launch of the new village comparison tool. An email was sent to village operators yesterday requesting that them to check and update the current data.

The Retirement Villages Residents Association of New Zealand has applauded the initiative saying they have long envisaged a comparison tool of this nature.

However, Retirement Villages Association (RVA) executive director John Collyns thinks it will be difficult to compare one village against another.

Collyns says there are “dozens of different models” and even within a single operator or village there is likely to be many different contracts according to when residents entered the village.

Collyns doesn’t believe there is a need for such comparison sites as the industry already has mechanisms in place for informing intending residents of a village’s fees and terms. He says the Key Terms document is used by providers to outline their village’s terms and conditions for prospective residents and aims to bring transparency into what can be a complicated arrangement.

“As far as we are concerned, we are already meeting the need,” says Collyns.

Ultimately, he believes a comparison site can’t replicate the experience of visiting villages when deciding where to live. What may appeal to one person, may not appeal to another, he says.

“Finance is just one part of it. We urge intending residents to visit a village more than once to get a feel for the place – spend some time there, have morning tea with other residents,” says Collyns.

“At the end of the day, the decision to live in a retirement village is not necessarily built on objective things, like whether it has a swimming pool or the quality of the roads, but much more on subjective things about how they get on with the manager, the village atmosphere – the Australians call it ‘the vibe’.”

AgedAdvisor does give users the opportunity to contact those villages and facilities that have subscribed to the site, to enquire about availability or make an appointment to visit. Its new retirement village comparison tool is expected to officially go live Tuesday 19th December.

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