While protocols are not legally binding, there is an expectation that they will be applied.
1. Before you implement a decision to cancel or change a service, it is good practice to consult with the residents’ committee. If there isn’t one, or if it is not practicable to consult with it (for instance, if the committee is purely social), it is good practice to first let residents know about the change by letter, then arrange a meeting.
2. As part of that consultation, you should explain:
- when the proposed change will take effect
- why the change is needed
- how it will affect residents
- what the rights and responsibilities of the residents and manager are under the residence contracts
- what process you intend to follow when implementing the change
- the reasonable expectations of residents about the existence and standard of the service
- options for providing the new service, including provider and cost (where feasible)
- payment options (where feasible).
3. It is good practice to attempt to reach an agreement with the residents’ committee/residents on implementing the change.
4. It is also good practice to write to all residents to let them know of the outcome of the discussions, and to include details of agencies that can provide help and assistance if they are not happy with the proposed changes.
You, as the village manager, propose to cancel or change a service provided to residents.
The diversity of residents and the communal nature of retirement villages mean that consultation with residents about changes to services needs to be structured in a way that avoids confusion, which can lead to anxiety for residents.
Setting out the proposed changes in writing allows residents to consider and discuss the proposal with each other and with family members. Following this with individual and/or group meetings allows questions to be answered and fears allayed.
The residence contract is the document that governs your power to cancel or change a service and the process for doing so.
Section 38(3) of the Retirement Villages Act 1986 protects you from civil liability for a reduction in services where the residents have not approved an increase above the consumer price index (CPI) in the maintenance charge, provided you have acted reasonably.