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Retirement Insight Part 1: Aged-care facilities and their projected urban impact


Everyone has a retirement dream, some envisage a house by the beach, others want to live amongst friends within a retirement community and some want remain in their own home and receive professional help when needed. While it is hoped that all retirees could live in their most preferred accommodation, demand for aged-care living is rapidly increasing and The Treasury has projected Australia’s seniors’ population to double by 2050*. To support this growth there needs to be a corresponding increase in the amount of purpose-built housing to ensure that those entering retirement can continue to have choice. This article is the first of the three-part Retirement Insight series; it identifies the available aged care facilities and highlights predicted urban impact of the ageing population.

Aged care providers have traditionally been establishments run by state or religious organisations. Today, private developers are taking a larger percentage of the market share by providing accommodation that meets the niche housing requirements and facilitates the changing demand. Blue care, Aveo, Retire Australia, Lendlease, Stockland and Anglicare Southern Queensland are some of the larger industry providers. Most of these organisations offer a variety of aged care facilities, listed below are some of the most readily available options.

Retirement Villages

The most common model of retirement living in South East Queensland is Retirement Villages. Retirement Villages are for seniors who are independent and would like to be closer to services, facilities and like-minded people. This type of retirement living typically takes the form of Independent Living Units (ILUs) or Villas. This model of living is generally preferred by seniors as it offers facilities that require minimal maintenance and incorporates many age-friendly features. Retirement villages often offer additional services to those who are generally independent but require assistance with some activities, such as domestic work.

Serviced Apartments are also on the rise within Queensland. While these apartments can be found within a Retirement Village, they offer a greater level of care; usually providing 24-hour support and access to living assistance. Services provided range from having evening meals supplied, to laundry, cleaning and personal care. These apartments are suited to those who don’t need round-the-clock medical support, but do require more assistance than those in an ILU. Additionally, they are often smaller than ILUs; the average size being one or two bedrooms with a small kitchenette.

Some Retirement Villages may also have an integrated Aged Care facility. This type of living is for those who require a higher level of care and cannot remain in their own home or unit but would like to remain part of the community. To be eligible for this style of care or accommodation a person must be assessed by an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT). In these situations the challenges of facilitating couples become more evident. The benefits of couples remaining together as they are cared for have been made evident by both industry professionals and academics. One of the biggest challenges, however, is knowing how to properly care for both people when one spouse ages at a more rapid rate than the other. Often aged care providers are unable to offer the full spectrum of services due to the Government structure. It has become evident that there is a great need for care of all levels to be offered within the one facility; multi-level care allows couples to remain in close proximity and aids transition between levels of care.

Residential Aged Care Facilities

For those who are unable to live independently, they may choose to live in a residential aged care facility. This style of care provides various levels of personal and nursing care and is the typical form of accommodation for those who require high levels of care. Often referred to as nursing homes, they are also known as aged care homes or high and low care facility. For an easy comparison between retirement villages and residential aged care facilities, see the table below.


Retirement Villages

Residential Aged Care facilities

Level of independence

Residents can generally live independently and are not reliant on staff. They generally do not need help with dressing, bathing or cooking, but may pay to have additional assistance such as a cleaner.

Residents need daily personal assistance and cannot live by themselves. Generally, need help with cleaning, personal care, meals and medication.

Entry criteria

Anyone aged 55 years or older can buy a unit.

Entry is restricted by need and persons seeking this level of care are assessed on their level of required personal assistance.


Fully funded by residents and not as heavily regulated.

Heavily subsidized and regulated.


Palliative care

Palliative care provides high quality health care to those who are suffering from a life-limiting illness and is available to anyone with such an illness, inclusive of dementia. Palliative care can be accessed through referral from a General Practitioner, medical specialist or other health provider. For more information see Palliative Care Australia.

Fee structure of aged-care/retirement living

The cost of aged-care and retirement living vary both between types of care and service providers, there are no standardised costs. The Commonwealth Government subsidises much of the cost associated with the provision of residential care where ACAT eligibility is established. This classification will help determine what will be included within their subsidy and what they will need to pay for. Home care Packages follow a similar process, however sometimes an ACAT assessment is not needed. The My Aged Care website provides extensive information about the available aged care services and government subsidies. In relation to the ageing population, the feasibility of these subsidies will need to come into question.

Urban impact of the ageing population

By 2050 there will be 8.1 million Australians over the age of 65; the ageing population will bring significant change in housing demand, both in terms of location and housing type. Capital cities are experiencing an increase in demand for senior living options within middle ring suburbs. Specifically, major centres, such as Brisbane, are already experiencing significant shortages of retirement villages. There are currently 184,000 seniors living in retirement villages throughout Australia, and by 2025 it is predicted that this number will reach 382,000**. The extensive amount of available research in this field has provided policy-makers with an opportunity to be ahead of the trend. It is possible to make informed projections and cater to this extreme demand prior to when the impact is fully felt. Whilst this is a significant challenge for Australia overcome in the coming decade, it presents an opportunity for the public and private sectors to work together to deliver adequate accommodation to meet the resident’s needs. All state and local legislation will need to be reviewed to remove red tap where possible and ensure we meet the demand of this housing crisis. Now is the time to implement appropriate measures to ensure the most cost-effective, high quality product are delivered.

This article was the first of the Retirement Insight series, part two will delve deeper into the conflict between the current planning schemes and age care trends. If you would like to know more about planning policy and the retirement industry please do not hesitate to contact one of our experienced planners.


*Property Council of Australia. (2014). National overview of the retirement village sector. 

**Ageing Agenda. (2017). Government inaction hindering retirement villages.