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CCRC Residents want to be both Secure and Happy

CCRC residents want both financial security and happy, engaged senior living or life care communities, balancing emotional intangibles and financial metrics.

Lori, “So what do you think is lacking in currently available CCRC information?”

Dan, “Well, not so much lacking but more how the information is reported.  What I don’t like is that everything reported is an average or a snapshot in time.”

Lori, “And….?”

Dan, “And, I’m enough of a statistician that I know averages conceal as much as they reveal. I always want to know the distribution as well. That is….What’s the range of variation? Are they all pretty close to average or are there big gaps between the best and worst?”

“Like financial planning and picking a mutual fund.  It’s not enough to know just that particular mutual fund’s rate of return from last year. It’s meaningless without the context. What did the market do last year? What did other mutual funds deliver for rate of return at that same snapshot in time? And like a mutual fund, trends over time matter. Does the mutual fund consistently outperform the market or its peers? I want to know the same about a CCRC. How does this CCRC compare? Is this the best option? If I’m committed to the concept of a continuum of care, I want to pick the best option possible or at least avoid consistent underperformers.”

Lori, “Do you think it’s a purely financial choice?”

Dan, “No, and I know you don’t. You’re always more focused on the intangible or non-financial differences between communities.”

Lori, “That’s because it’s not enough to just avoid a financial mistake. A CCRC is more than the real estate and financials.  For this to be a good fit, the personality of the community must match as well.”

Dan, “So. . . you don’t want an upside down balance sheet or a dead social scene?”

Lori, “Exactly! I still want us to have fun.”

Dan, “So what’s important to you? What can’t you find among the current CCRC resources?”

Lori, “I want to know more about the make-up and personality of the communities. What do they value, how active they are and what are they really doing day-to-day or week-to-week?  How good are the activities and food choices, not just the quantity of each. Are the residents engaged and energized living there? I want to sort out the happy communities where residents share life experiences and help their neighbors.”

“It’s like picking a college or finding the right neighborhood. There’s more to the equation than just a financial statement. I’m not sure a bean counting nurse would make me feel good. I want a nurse that cares about me and my family. I want to hear the experiences of other residents and their family members.”

Dan, “So… we’re describing a balancing act between financial security and intangible values.”

Lori, “That’s because you are thinking like a lawyer. I think I’m speaking more to the emotional concerns. You’re asking if you can trust them with your money. I’m asking, would my Mom or myself be happy there? Would I want to live there?”

Dan, “Ok so, I’m guarding against the big mistake with the life savings and you’re still reaching for the upside, the best social experience and setting to live a rich life.”

Lori, “And the ideal choice accomplishes both. Like you said, it gives you the same financial security you look for in other investments but the right CCRC also lets you live in a happy, active community….so you’re in a community that supports you and your spouse and makes the most of your time spent there. That’s why the architecture matters. It’s part of how it feels.”

Dan, “That information doesn’t exist today does it?”

Lori, “No. There’s some good tools out there. Medicare inspects and scores a CCRC’s nursing facility with it’s 5-star rating system. CARF accredits some, CCRCs.” http://www.carf.org/ccrcListing.aspx

Dan, “But CARF is voluntary…only a fraction of the CCRCs are CARF accredited. Roughly ten percent of all CCRCs are CARF accredited.”

Lori, “CARF is more about process and consistency in process. It’s like ISO9000 for manufacturers. You expect that doing processes well will produce good resident outcomes, but it is not the same as directly measuring resident satisfaction or happiness.”

Dan, “So our task is to find answers that today no one source can answer?”

Lori, “They wouldn’t want to make it easy would they?”

Dan, “So where do we start?”

Lori, “Like any trip, you have to take the first step.”

Dan, “I was thinking of the elephant metaphor. You know, ‘How do you eat an elephant?’”

Lori, “One bite at a time.”