Continuing Care & Life Care Retirement Communities
What is a continuing care retirement community?
Continuing Care Retirement Communities combine all three levels of care – independent living, assisted living and nursing home care in a single setting. Traditionally, such communities have required a sizeable entry fee, plus monthly maintenance fees, in exchange for a living unit, meals, and health care coverage, up to the nursing home level. In recent years some communities have begun to offer their services on a month to month rental basis with health care coverage being paid for at the time of need rather than on the basis of the coverage afforded by the traditional entry fee or “life care” endowment.
What is a Life Care Community and How is It Different Than a CCRC?
Today there are many “continuing care” communities, but very few actual “life care” communities. Presently, there are only 15-19 life care communities in the state. In 1991 the state of California passed legislation which defined what a retirement community had to provide in order to advertise themselves as a “life care” community. In that legislation it said that a “life care” community had to provide:
- Guaranteed health care coverage for life – no exceptions;
- A guarantee that if the resident’s resources were exhausted that they could not lose their residence or their benefits( i.e. they had to be financially subsidized by the retirement community) ;
- The retirement community had to have a nursing facility within the community itself .
- The residence (apartment) that they occupied when they entered the community could not be taken from the resident for any reason.
The Goal of CCRC's or Why You Should Consider Choosing a CCRC
The goal of these communities whether “lifecare” or ‘”continuing care” is to allow residents to “age in place”. If illness or injury occurs the necessary health care services required will be available ideally within the community and the person will not have to move elsewhere to obtain the care they need regardless of how long they live in the community. The term “continuum of care” refers to all of the services that people need as they age being available through one service provider or on one campus. The only caveat to this is that acute care hospitalization is not available at any CCRC in California, only skilled nursing care in a convalescent facility.
Description of CCRC's
CCRC’s are diverse. They range from high rises to expansive campuses on large acreage, from 100 residents to over 1000. The residences may be apartments, cottages, townhouses, duplexes, clusters or even single family homes. Floor plans in a CCRC are varied from studios and one bedroom to two and three bedrooms, and larger. They are in urban, suburban, and rural areas. Communities offer different services and programs, but common to most are common dining room, activity and exercise areas, outdoor recreation and swimming pools.
Whether a retirement community calls itself a “Life Care” community or a “Continuing Care Retirement Community” there is usually, but not always, a substantial entrance fee and a very detailed contract which spells out the services provided by the community.
Contracts and Promises Made by CCRC's
An essential part of any of these communities is the provision of nursing services for the residents if they require it. Contracts must meet certain guidelines established by each state to protect the consumer before they can be sold to the public. However, it is important if you are considering this form of housing to have the contract reviewed by an attorney knowledgeable in this area. The services offered in each community and what you have to pay for them varies considerably from community to community. Nursing costs for example may only be covered for a short period of time or not at all in one community, but in another you may be covered for a year or more without extra charge.
The costs of entrance fees to these types of communities can be as little as $10,000 and as much as $500,000. Some communities allow you to purchase an apartment in the community that you can leave to your heirs, but most only provide you with living accommodations as long as you reside in the community. In addition to the entrance fee you will also pay a monthly maintenance fee which varies depending on the size of your unit and the community you live in. These monthly fees can start at $2000 a month.
You can call California Registry (800) 777-7575 or fill out our care needs assessment for more information about these communities in your area and give you referrals to specific ones. At California Registry, we do not generally differentiate between “life care” communities or “continuing care retirement” communities. Unless you are looking for placement in one of these communities within two years, we do not give out these types of referrals.