A proposal to allow the development of luxury rest homes is unlikely to create a class system in the Bay, according to an elderly advocacy group.
The Ministry of Health has been considering allowing premium-only aged residential care facilities, which would provide additional services with all their rooms and charge extra for that luxury.
Some rest homes have a combination of standard and premium rooms.
The District Health Board (DHB) covers the cost of a standard room for those who meet health and financial needs assessments. Residents have to pay extra for premium rooms.
Age Concern Tauranga chairwoman Angela Scott said the Government's careful consideration of the proposal gave her confidence it would be positive for the city's elderly population.
"We want people to be able to have choice and it's good that the people that want premium rooms should have them available," Mrs Scott said.
"It's also essential that there are enough standard rooms. We don't want there to be a class system in retirement care. We have got no objection to premium rooms but there must be enough standard rooms."
Mrs Scott said the large number of rest homes in Tauranga meant there was already plenty of options available. Even if the proposal went ahead she expected there would remain a variety of rooms which would cater to every price range and need. Mrs Scott said it could prove problematic if every provider decided to upgrade their rooms to make more money but she was confident the Government would regulate against such moves.
Associate Health Minister Jo Goodhew said the proposal would provide choice and encourage investment and improvement in the sector.
Safeguards were proposed to ensure care remained affordable and available to all. Sufficient standard, or no extra charge, rooms would still be required to be available in each region, she said.
Bethlehem Views owner and chairman of Sanderson Group Fraser Sanderson said there was a need for more high-quality facilities in Tauranga.
Bethlehem Views charged extra for most of its rooms but demand remained so high there was a waiting list, he said. The village was being expanded to cater to that demand.
"There is a great need to improve the standard of the facilities and the only way that can happen is though private investment," he said.
In Tauranga it was rare to come across a situation where the retiree or their family could genuinely not afford an extra $10-$20 a night, Mr Sanderson said.
"They are crying out for good quality facilities in this town and they can afford it," he said. "I'm hoping to hell they bring this in and we get a glut of five-star rest homes in the city."