The Association Group for Retirement Villages at present attend to various matters. In some cases they act on their own and in other cases in collaboration with other organisations. The following matters are the most important:
For many years The Association Group tried to convince government to establish a dispute resolution mechanism for retirement villages to deal with and solve problems in an affordable way. This issue progressed to a point where draft legislation has been formulated to introduce an Ombudsman Service for all accommodation schemes. This draft legislation has been discussed during country wide information sessions by the Department of Human Settlements. It was supposed to be submitted to parliament and, if everything progressed according to plan the act would have been implemented in 2011, with the first office probably in Gauteng. This effort failed and up to July2014 no real progress has been made.
The Association Group is aware of shortcomings in existing legislation applicable to retirement villages. Various problems were identified and were discussed with relevant Departments. In the case of the Sectional Titles Act, which is administered by the Head Registrar of Deeds in the Department of Land Affairs, it was decided to transfer the section of the act applicable to the management of sectional title schemes, to the Department of Human Settlements. During discussion sessions a draft bill on this matter was composed and was accepted through-out the country. . This draft should now be submitted to parliament.
In the case of the Housing Development Scheme for Retired Persons Act discussions with the Department of Commerce and Industry took place over several years and the Human Rights Commission (HRC) was also involved. The HRC was convinced to appoint a task group to investigate the matter but up to this point in time no progress was made. As a result of this, various politicians were approached to apply pressure on the Portfolio Committee of the Department of Trade and Industry to arrange a hearing on the matter. Such a hearing did not take place and further discussions were held with the Department to:
- Establish a new constitutional dispensation for retirement villages to ensure proper registration, accreditation and protection of consumers;
- Convince government to apply the provisions of a new act towards proper and continuous monitoring;
- Preferably, implement an encompassing act for retirement villages to cover all forms of accommodation;
- Get a code of practice accepted according to which norms and standards will be established regarding the development and management of retirement villages
- Get a definition of a retirement village accepted.
Legislation and codes of conduct regarding retirement villages in other countries are studied at present in order to present concrete proposals in this regard to the Department.
The Act on Older People, which was promulgated in 2006 and the regulations which were implemented on 1 April 2010, contains specific implications for retirement villages. Care takers, care services and facilities for older people must conform to specific requirements. The Association Group has already conducted various information sessions on the act for its members and maintains contact with the Department of Social Development regarding the implementation and application of the act. It is planned to compose a manual on the act and regulations for its members. In the meantime arrangements have been made with the Department and ex-staff members, who are familiar with the act, to advise members of the Association Group and assist them with the registration of the care facilities in their retirement villages as prescribed by the act.
The Consumer Protection Act, act 68 of 2008, which was implemented in 2011, also contains implications for retirement villages, management bodies and residents.
This Act has been studied and discussed and the implications were explained to members by a proficient person.
In collaboration with other organizations, that have an Association in accommodation for older people, representations were made to local authorities to maintain uniformity regarding the way in which rebates on municipal tariffs and taxes are granted to older people. It was specifically insisted that retirement villages be included in the list of organisations which qualify for rebates. In view of this a definition of “retirement villages” was compiled which should be considered by these authorities. Discussions on this issue are taking place with the SA Association of Local Authorities (SALGA) and the possibility of collaboration in various matters is envisaged e.g.:
- The utilisation of older people to serve as mentors for existing staff to improve the delivery of municipal services; and
- The establishment of information counters in every municipal office to assist older people.
The Association Group took the initiative to approach the government to grant specific benefits to older people because of their age. These benefits should include concessions on all forms of transport, discount on purchases, assistance with medical expenses, loans to make adjustments to their homes in the case of permanent disability, etc. This request is based on the benefits awarded to older people in other countries.
As a result of the increasing costs of care, alternative ways and means on how costs could be reduced or funding could be arranged, are investigated in collaboration with other organisations. Various options were, investigated, e.g. the establishment of a foundation that could subsidise the cost of care. The idea was that this foundation could be funded by membership fees, legacies and sponsorships. Furthermore, the possibility of recognition of Gerontology as a specialisation option in the training of nurses be accepted by universities. This may open the possibility to convince medical schemes to cover the costs of care giving under the supervision of Gerontological Nurses. In collaboration with the local branch of the South African Gerontological Association, nurses and other persons involved in the care giving to residents in retirement villages are brought together to discuss their needs in consultation with the management of retirement villages where they are employed. A short course in “Creative Ageing”, which is presented by “Gryskrag” in collaboration with the University of Pretoria, will be made accessible to all who are working with elderly people in retirement villages. This course covers the Act on Older Persons and other aspects related to the care giving to residents of retirement villages.
The Association Group acted as the coordinator amongst its members to establish a Declaration of the Rights of Elderly People that could serve as a guideline to the Human Rights Commission of the Department of Social Development for all government institutions and private bodies regarding their interaction with elderly people.
The Association Group has a manual consisting of two volumes about the management of retirement villages, which is available to its members. This manual is at present in the process of being revised and updated. Guidelines for prospective buyers in retirement villages were compiled and are available at the Administrative Secretary. A packet of other relevant publications was also compiled and is available at the cost of R50 plus postage.
This includes the following:
- Guidelines for children of parents in retirement villages, which contain advice for residents and children regarding mutual needs, relations and practical suggestions about matters which should be attended to timeously.
- Delivery of health services: Nursing/Care giving Terms, which cover definitions applicable to nursing and care giving and which explains among others, the difference between basic and other forms of care giving.
- Health Care for Older Persons: Challenges for the family/children covering a detailed discussion on care giving to older persons.
- The implications of the Older Person’s Act on retirement villages.
- Promoting the wellness of older persons.
- Prevention of falls.
- The importance of pets in the life of older persons.
- Towards understanding the different legal options for retirement villages.
- The correct use of medication.
- Towards good corporate governance practices according to the King III guidelines.
- A successful retirement village - guidelines and ideas.
The “Vonkeljare” Song festival is presented annually. About 12 groups from retirement villages participate in the event and the professionalism of their appearances attracts between 450 and 600 attendees. The song festival is normally presented in September/October to more or less align with the International Day for Older Persons.