Understanding Continuing Care Retirement Communities
A Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC), sometimes referred to as a Life Plan Community, is a senior housing facility that offers any combination of independent living, assisted living, memory care and/or skilled nursing. The primary benefit of this type of community is continuity of care as this type of setting eliminates the need for a resident to relocate based on changing care needs.
Benefits of a CCRC:
- Ideal for aging couples who require different levels of care but wish to reside in the same community
- Peace of mind in knowing you will not have to move if your care needs change
- Vibrant social setting through activities, outings and dining options
- Removal of home maintenance and upkeep
- Plethora of on-site amenities that encourage an active lifestyle such as pools, exercise rooms, arts and crafts, classes, etc
- If you move in at an ideal time, you can amortize what you might pay over the next 10-20 years and find that it was more cost effective in the long term.
- Some CCRC’s utilize entrance fees for capital improvements, ensuring that the community remains in excellent condition and offerings are stable.
- Entrance fees allow for the monthly costs to be reduced.
There is a financial and legal consideration to choosing a CCRC as it is typically required that a new resident sign a continuing care agreement and pay an Entrance Fee. This fee can range from $10,000 to $500,000. Since admission would require a legal contract between you and the CCRC, it may be beneficial to have your attorney or financial advisor review the document prior to signing. CCRC contracts typically outline the following:
- Apartment/Residence specifications
- Rates and Fees
- Scope of health care
- Services and amenities
- Conditions for transfer within the community to other levels of care, plus a description of the CCRC’s responsibility should a resident become unable to pay fees
- Cancellations and Refunds
Here are some things to consider and inquire about when choosing a CCRC;
- Location- Consider distance to family, climate, and relation to hospitals, shopping, theaters, etc.
- Accreditation- This ensures the oversight and quality of services within the Skilled Nursing portion of the community.
- Staff- Determine staff training and certifications, requirements for drug-testing, background checks and other relevant clearances. What are the staffing ratios within the various levels of care?
- Atmosphere/Culture- Observe if the other residents appear happy and well cared for. Does the Community feel inclusive?
- Dining and Amenities- Determine if how many meals are included in the monthly fee or what the meal programs look like. Is the Community able to accommodate special diets such as gluten-free, diabetic, etc.
- Terms of the Contract and Entry Fee requirement
- General Condition of the Community including common areas and apartments. Are the appliances new? Are the grounds well-kept? Observe details as you walk through the community.