ARCO updates code to protect housing with care customers

Middleton Hall Retirement Village. Photograph by Stuart Boulton.

The representative body for the housing with care sector has launched a new edition of its consumer code, providing the platform for government to introduce sector-specific regulation.

The latest Associated Retirement Community Operators (ARCO) code, which follows previous editions in 2015 and 2017, builds on consumer law to give customers and residents confidence that ARCO members are protecting them in marketing, sales and lettings, and resident relations.

It argues that a lack of specific regulation covering housing with care leads to little consumer protection for prospective residents in non-ARCO schemes, who are not bound by its code, which aims to uphold transparency and fairness.

‘The launch of the 2021 ARCO consumer code will help ensure the highest standards are met by all of ARCO’s housing with care operators, bringing confidence to consumers and residents, and creating a benchmark for sector-specific regulation,’ said Sally Ireland, barrister and head of regulation and compliance at the representative body.

‘At ARCO we’re always re-evaluating our standards programme to support members in their vital work with older people, and the Covid-19 pandemic has created new challenges that our revised code and guidance help overcome.’

Jeremy Walford, chair of the ARCO standards committee and managing director of Middleton Hall, said: ‘We would now urge the government to implement the proposal for a cross-department task force so that the policies can be put in place – including sector-specific consumer protection regulation – to transform housing with care provision and bring its benefits to hundreds of thousands more older people.’