Ryman Healthcare is on the cusp of significant growth as people born in the late 1930s and early 1940s decide to leave their own homes and move into care, chief financial officer David Bennett says.
The United Nations had indicated the world was facing unprecedented change in demographics and for New Zealand and Australia, the health of people was the biggest challenge, he said.
There had been much talk about the baby-boomers but the generation before was a large consumer of retirement products, he told the recent Craigs Investment Partners investor day in Queenstown.
"The next 30 to 40 years is a big step up on what it's been. We are very excited but it is about what we have done, we have to do better.''
Ryman had introduced technology - myRyman - to help staff be more reactive to the needs of patients. Instead of a nurse taking notes and writing them up later, the technology meant instant responses to things such as high blood pressure or unexplained weight loss.
Looking ahead, Ryman had 10 sites in the pipeline and was adding to its land bank, he said.
Four sites were ready to go, including some in Victoria, which had demographics similar to New Zealand's.
In Australia, the choice for older people was either aged care or retirement villages, not continuum of care as was offered by Ryman, he said.
The Ryman model was proving popular in Australia, giving the company growth prospects. It was cheaper to build in Australia and easier to get resources, Bennett said.
Ryman had opened one village in Victoria and wanted to make sure it was successful before opening another.
"We are not getting too far ahead of ourselves. The ethos of the company was still 'it has to be good enough for Mum', which founder Kevin Hickman advocated.''
The group was not planning to list in Australia, at least in the short-term. Ryman had enough overseas owners through its listing on the NZX to satisfy international demand for shares.
Asked about falling property prices, particularly in Auckland, Bennett said the company did not try to predict what would happen with home prices.
"A slowdown in the market means potential opportunities for us in identifying new sites. Other operators stop building and we find it easier to get resources.''
At one stage, Ryman built its own prefabricated panelling factory because it was having difficulty sourcing enough materials for its new villages.
One of the few times Ryman had come out against political policy was in response to the Government's proposal to cut immigration, he said.
The group used migrant staff in its operations. Some had worked for the group for seven or eight years and had proven to be the best workers.
"We support them where we can. Our residents love them.''