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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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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 Operators under 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).
  • 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.

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, and a list of the communities registered by Approved Operators can be found here. Each registered retirement community will also have a certificate displayed from January 2018.

How are 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 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 communities 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 will refer complaints that are made to it to the relevant member for resolution. The Code requires Approved Operators to provide a clear complaints procedure and to offer recourse to the relevant Ombudsman service if they cannot resolve a complaint to a complainant’s satisfaction. As such, any concerns that customers or residents may have about an ARCO Approved Operator should first be raised with the operator directly.
  • However, the Standards Committee will consider evidence supporting allegations of an infringement of the Code from any consumer, and ensure appropriate measures are taken to rectify any compliance failing, if found.
  • Further, if a potential safeguarding issue is brought to ARCO’s attention, it will be reported to the relevant authority.

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

  • Please contact ARCO’s Head of Operations Shandi Petersen at [email protected] 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 [email protected].