A Continuing Care Retirement Community, or CCRC, is a senior living community that provides housing, personal and social services, and health care for life. The emphasis of the CCRC model is on a continuum of care which enables residents to avoid having to move – except to another area within the community – as their needs change. This alleviates the physical and emotional burden of moving because of a change on condition.
Typically, seniors move into a CCRC while still living independently, with few health risks or healthcare needs and remain there until the end of life. For some, a CCRC is a valuable way to plan for long-term care.
Residents who move into a CCRC would have access all levels of care up to and including skilled (“nursing home”) care without needing to relocate to a different community. This promise of continuum of care is one of the major benefits of a CCRC.
CCRCs are sometimes referred to as Life Care Communities because they often operate effectively as insurance policies to assure guaranteed access to increasing levels of care, including long-term nursing care, for the rest of one’s life while controlling the cost of care. That guarantee comes at a price. CCRC’s require a ‘buy in’, a larger, initial payment that serves as a bond for the coverage.
CCRCs are an attractive option for couples as well. If one spouse needs to move into a higher-care facility within the community, the couple remains in close proximity to each other. This enables them to take advantage of the community’s social benefits and spend time together every day, without compromising one’s care.
● Type of contract: It is essential to investigate the types of CCRC contracts that are available, and which will work best for your unique needs. Whether you choose a Life Care Contract or a Modified Agreement, your entrance and monthly fees will vary significantly.
● Level of care available: Enquire about the types of care and medical services provided at each CCRC you’re considering. If the senior has any special needs, make sure the CCRC has all the facilities in place to meet the needs of your loved one, whether it’s s secured memory care facility or nursing available 24/7. Try to ascertain the quality of care given to the current residents. Make sure there is an adequate staff-to-community member ratio.
● Extracurricular activities: Apart from the various healthcare assistance facilities, most CCRCs also offer programming aimed at more independent seniors, such as those who are looking for and able to take advantage of lectures, the arts, and social functions.
● Housing conditions: Before choosing a community, ask to see the living spaces within each level of care to see if it feels like home to you. Understand what changes in condition would require you to move apartments within the community and what apartments in each area look like.
● Food and amenities: Go for a meal and taste the food. Inquire about how the community handles special dietary needs such as vegan diets or diabetic-friendly food to make certain your loved one can be accommodated.
Access to a full continuum of care from independent living all the way through skilled nursing care makes a CCRC an attractive option for many. To decide if a CCRC is a good choice for you, weigh the value of a pricing model that calls for an initial ‘buy in’ in exchange for assurance of coverage across the continuum of care. For some, that option is priceless.