Regulating Retirement Communities – the next ten years

Tuesday 10th March 2020
Part of our Decade Ahead series

In the early part of 2020, the ARCO team are publishing a series of posts about the decade ahead, covering a variety of aspects of our work and the sector we represent.

We are excited to conclude the series with a post from our new Barrister and Head of Regulation and Compliance, Sally Ireland LLM, who shares her thoughts on the importance of transparency and how ARCO’s self-regulation might be formalised over the next ten years. 


Renewed political focus on the rights of leaseholders and the future of the adult social care sector shows the 2020s will be an exciting decade for all those interested in expanding the Retirement Community sector – offering high-quality retirement housing with care as needed and other services and facilities to make later life more healthy, secure and enjoyable.

A move into a Retirement Community is a big step, and may be the person’s first move for many years. At ARCO we recognise the importance of information being clear and transparent for prospective residents, going beyond the requirements of legislation to provide the person with all the details they need about services, charges and their own obligations. This was the thinking behind the development of the ARCO Consumer Code in 2015 – updated and revised in 2017 using the learning gained from our assessments of our member operators and the Law Commission’s work on Event Fees.

The Consumer Code sets out what we expect all our Approved Operators to offer, how we expect them to interact with potential and existing residents, what information they should give and how they should deal with feedback or complaints. It is backed up by our programme of regular member assessments so consumers can be assured that all operators carrying the ARCO mark are meeting our high standards.

In the next ten years we expect ARCO’s self-regulation to be put on a more formal basis, and new legislation to define the Retirement Community offer in law.  We hope a new model of tenure will more accurately encapsulate the long-term service relationship between operator and resident. Finally, we believe government will be able to build upon the work ARCO has done to keep standards high across the sector, so it can provide high-quality housing-with-care for many more older people who need it – our aim is 250,000 by 2030.