Consumer Code FAQs

Explaining the ARCO Consumer Code

More information on the Consumer Code can be found here.

What is ARCO?

What is a Retirement Community?

Why is the ARCO Consumer Code important?

Who established the Code?

Who does it cover?

How do I know if my Retirement Community is registered with ARCO?

How are communities assessed?

What if an operator is found to be non-compliant?

Does a member need to have all their communities assessed if they want to become an Approved Operator under the ARCO Code?

What if I think someone doesn’t comply or I have a complaint?

Who do I contact if I want to become an Approved Operator/register a community with ARCO?

What is ARCO?

The Associated Retirement Community Operators (ARCO) is the main body representing the Retirement Community sector in the UK.

ARCO continually strives to:

  • Promote confidence in the sector by setting rigorous standards for the retirement communities and actively enforcing these through robust self-regulation.

  • Raise awareness of the Retirement Community model, ensuring that older people are aware of their housing options and that public policies enable the sector to meet the housing, lifestyle, health, and social care needs of our ageing population effectively.

  • Increase the volume and quality of expertise within the sector by investing in and undertaking research, and identifying and sharing good practice among members, affiliates, stakeholders, and across the wider sector.

What is a Retirement Community?

A Retirement Community provides self-contained accommodation (which can be purchased or rented with security of tenure) that has been designed with the needs of older people in mind. Residents have their own private homes in the midst of a supportive and friendly community, with access to many communal facilities that might include a residents’ lounge, restaurant, hair salon, gardens, swimming pool, and gym.

Retirement Communities may also be referred to as retirement villages, extra care housing, housing with care, assisted living, close care apartments, or independent living.

Why is the ARCO Consumer Code important?

ARCO established the Code in order to create a clear framework for the operation and delivery of Retirement Communities. This enables consumers to make informed choices and to maintain and increase confidence in the sector. ARCO members aim to be pro-active, not reactive, to the needs of consumers and the Code is a key element of this vision.

Who established the Code?

The ARCO Consumer Code was developed and agreed by ARCO’s members, who committed to be bound by a common set of operating standards.

Who does it cover?

The Code applies to those Retirement Communities who have been registered with ARCO by Approved Operators under the ARCO Code. It does not cover any other services or offers that members may provide (such as care homes, sheltered housing or other forms of retirement housing).
Prospective and provisional members of ARCO have also agreed to be bound by the ARCO Code, but will only become an Approved Operator once they have achieved compliance on one or more full assessments of an operational Retirement Community.

How do I know if my Retirement Community is registered with ARCO?

A full list of our members’ communities can be found on our web map. Each registered Retirement Community also has a certificate displayed on site.

How are Retirement Communities assessed?

ARCO commissions independent and experienced assessors to visit members’ communities. Operators submit documentation in advance of the visit, and assessors form a view on an operator’s compliance based on these site visits, interviews with staff, and written documentation (such as policies and procedures, marketing materials, contracts, etc.).

What if an operator is found to be non-compliant?

Operators receive an assessment report detailing non-compliance issues. Operators then need to resolve these issues within a given timeframe in order to become/remain Approved Operators under the ARCO Code.

Does a member need to have all their communities assessed if they want to become an Approved Operator under the ARCO Code?

Operators first need to achieve compliance on one assessment to become an Approved Operator. Operators will then need to demonstrate compliance regularly on a sample of their communities, so not all communities will be assessed in any given year.

ARCO members agree to be bound by ARCO’s Standards and Compliance Framework, which includes a number of provisions with assessments under the Consumer Code at its centre. The number of assessments will depend on the number of communities a member operates – larger operators will need to go through a higher number of assessments. Single site operators will need to be assessed at least every two years.

What if I think someone doesn’t comply or I have a complaint?

ARCO's complaints policy can be found here.

Who do I contact if I want to become an Approved Operator/register a community with ARCO?

Please contact ARCO’s Head of Membership & Operations Ellie Pyemont at elliepyemont@arcouk.org if you would like to discuss becoming an ARCO member and Approved Operator under the ARCO Code.

If your question has not been answered in the FAQs please email info@arcouk.org.