It's no secret that choosing a CCRC (continuing care retirement community) that fits your needs, desires and budget can be a lengthy and involved process. That's because CCRCs offer the broadest array of services in the senior housing market, usually with independent living, assisted living, memory care, nursing home and end-of-life care offered all on a single campus.
In your evaluation, you'll want to consider factors such as cost, location, environment, staffing, health care services, owner information and activities, just to name a few. Make the process of evaluating different communities easier by breaking it into manageable chunks.
Here are the top ten considerations in choosing a CCRC:
- Contract Type(s)—There are three types of continuing care contracts: Type A (Extended), Type B (Modified) and Type C (Fee-for-Service). Find out which type(s) is offered; this will directly affect the health care services you will be entitled to receive per your contract, how much you will pay for those services, and the access you will have to such services over the duration of your contract.
- Costs—What costs should you plan for if you were to move in? Upfront costs for a CCRC usually include an entrance fee and/or deposit; ongoing costs include a monthly fee and services not included in your contract. Is the entrance fee refundable, and if so, how is the refund (sometimes called a "rebate") structured?
- Health Care Services—Are all levels of care offered on the same campus? Some CCRCs contract out nursing home care, which could require a move off-campus if your health needs increase.
- Financial Status—The financial health of a CCRC will help you make an informed decision in choosing a community that is financially able to fulfill its contractual obligations to you. Applicants are entitled to review the community's most recent audited financial statements, and residents are entitled to receive periodic updates (see information sharing below).
- Information Sharing—By what means, and how often, does the CCRC disclose information about operations and finances with residents?
- Safety and Security—Are you comfortable with the level of security and safety features across the campus? Would you be able to get around safely if your health and mobility needs changed?
- Record of Complaints—Call your local long-term care ombudsman to find out whether any complaints have been lodged against the community, and whether they have been resolved or are still pending.
- Quality of Care—Nursing home care is a great barometer for overall care at a continuing care retirement community. Check out Nursing Home Compare to learn how the community scored on its most recent health inspection.
- Accreditation—Is the facility accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF)? Accredited communities have met stringent standards regarding operational and financial performance as well as resident care.
- Lifestyle—Consider services and amenities, but also review the community's policies on breaking your contract, pets, overnight guests, moving between components on campus, and living with a spouse, for example. Is it a good fit for your lifestyle? Many CCRCs allow prospective applicants to move in on a trial basis of up to a week to get a feel for the place.
Written by senior housing writer Nikki Jong.