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Code FAQs

What is ARCO?

  • The Associated Retirement Community Operators (ARCO) is the main body representing the retirement community sector in the UK. Retirement communities may also be referred to as retirement villages; extra care housing; housing with care; assisted living; close care apartments; or independent living.
  • ARCO continually strives to: promote confidence in the sector, raise awareness of the retirement community model amongst older people and stakeholders alike, and increase the volume and quality of expertise within the 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.

Why is the ARCO Consumer Code important?

  • ARCO established the Code in order to create a clear framework for the operation and delivery of housing-with-care. This will enable 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 Subscribers to the ARCO Code. It does not cover other services or offers that members may provide (such as care homes, sheltered housing or other forms of retirement housing).

How do I know if my retirement community is registered with ARCO?

  • A full list of our members’ schemes can be found on our web map, and this is regularly updated. We also plan to issue certificates to be displayed in registered schemes.

How are schemes assessed?

  • ARCO commissions independent and experienced assessors to visit members’ schemes. Operators submit documentation in advance of the visit, and assessors will 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, etc.).

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

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

Does a member need to have all their schemes assessed if they want to become an Approved Subscriber to the ARCO Code?

  • Operators will need to demonstrate compliance regularly on a sample of their schemes, so not all schemes 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 the Consumer Code at its centre. This includes that members need to agree to an ongoing programme of external assessments. The number of assessments will depend on the number of schemes a member operators – 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 does not provide a dispute resolution service, and we encourage residents to follow their operator’s complaints procedure. ARCO members are signed up to the relevant Ombudsman services, who may be able to assist residents with complaints.
  • However, ARCO’s Standards Committee will consider external evidence in cases of allegations of an infringement to the Code.

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

  • Please contact ARCO’s Operations Manager Shandi Petersen at shandipetersen@arcouk.org if you would like to discuss becoming an ARCO member and Approved Subscriber to the ARCO Code.

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