Understanding Continuing Care Retirement Communities

Understanding Continuing Care Retirement Communities

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;

  1. Location- Consider distance to family, climate, and relation to hospitals, shopping, theaters, etc.
  2. Accreditation- This ensures the oversight and quality of services within the Skilled Nursing portion of the community.
  3. 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?
  4. Atmosphere/Culture- Observe if the other residents appear happy and well cared for. Does the Community feel inclusive?
  5. 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.
  6. Terms of the Contract and Entry Fee requirement
  7. 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.