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OCTOBER 2017 — BALTIMORE BEACON
CCRCs update services to attract boomers By Jennifer L. Waldera Baby boomers may be aging, but they want to do it on their own terms. That includes how they think and speak about retirement communities, and the industry is taking note. “The labels and the way that we talk about our services are actually scaring our customers away,” said Steve Gurney, publisher of Guide to Retirement Living. “No one wants to buy our services because it’s all about getting old.” Enter the rebranding of what are typically called Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) and are beginning to call themselves Life Plan Communities (LPCs). The change is spearheaded by Leading Age, a national organization based in Washington, D.C. that represents nonprofit housing and
aging services providers. In surveys, they found that “across all age groups, most participants expressed a need for a name that focuses on more than care,” according to the group’s website. For many years, the term Continuing Care Retirement Community has been used to define communities offering residential services for independent older adults, as well as some form of assisted living for those needing help with daily activities, and skilled nursing care for rehabilitation and long-term care needs — all on one campus. These communities provide their residents with an apartment or villa, utilities, meals, housekeeping, transportation, and other services and amenities, all in a secure environment. In addition to charging a monthly fee for
Live Well. Be Well.
accommodations and services, most CCRCs require a one-time entrance fee upon moving in. In part, this fee helps provide the endowment a community needs to assure it can provide a lifetime of healthcare to its residents. In many CCRCs today, the entrance fee may be refundable should a resident move away and, in some cases, it may even be passed on to heirs. Most communities offer a variety of different payment and refund options. By addressing “the continuum of care,” such communities are intended to provide all the services a person could need in the latter part of life, and as such, have the potential to be the “last move” a person need make.
Changing priorities LeadingAge’s CCRC members were reporting that consumer demands were changing drastically. Boomers were looking for socially responsible communities focused on the active lifestyle they wished to live. “The kinds of questions...that [marketing professionals] are getting now from prospective residents are radically different than they were 10 years ago,” said Steve Maag, LeadingAge’s Director of Residential Communities. “They’re much more knowledgeable, much more demanding, and ask a lot more questions.” Maag explained that the CCRC model was
originally created for members of the WWII generation, who were primarily looking for basic needs to be met, and whose priorities were security, stability and maintenance of the status quo. Surveying baby boomers about what they are seeking in a retirement community, LeadingAge found that while consumers still desired high-quality healthcare, they also wanted life-enhancing options that focus on wellness, choice, and the opportunity to continue an active lifestyle. According to Maag, the industry needed to adjust to these demands and respond with options that would be appealing to this new generation of prospective residents. Using that knowledge, the organization led a “namestorming” process that identified the language that most positively reflected the expectations of consumers. They ultimately determined that the label Life Plan Communities best reflected the values prospective residents associated with retirement community planning, and subsequently began to address transforming and increasing the services provided by the communities.
What is really changing? In addition to providing high-quality healthcare in the residential environment, See CCRCs, page B-4
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October 2017 | Baltimore Beacon Edition