If you have ever flown Economy Class on a long haul flight and looked with envy at the First Class passengers enjoying their extra leg room, fancy meals with real plates and cutlery and personalised service, you will know what it will probably be like in rest homes and retirement villages of the not too distant future. User pays is becoming the way things are done in retirement villages and rest home and differences in care between those who can pay and those who can’t are likely to become even more pronounced over time.
The number of people turning 75 every year is expected to double in the next 15 years. There is already a shortage of rest home beds and retirement villages. Most of the investment in new facilities in recent times has been by targeted at those people who can afford to pay for their own care. Ryman Healthcare, Summerset and Metlifecare, the three biggest players in the retirement sector, are struggling to keep up with demand despite significant expansion. Meanwhile, Government funding is falling behind what is required for rest home, hospital and dementia care and there have been cutbacks in the subsidies available for home support services. Within the aged care sector in general, there are problems with staff shortages, low wages and financial pressures.
On present trends, those people in retirement with limited financial resources may find themselves having to make do with basic levels of care and accommodation and increased reliance on family members. At the other end of the spectrum, those who are able to pay will enjoy a high standard of accommodation with resort-like features such as swimming pools, gyms, movie theatres and beauty salons. Planning and saving for the kind of retirement care you desire is now more important than ever.