Choosing a Continuing Care Retirement Community
As the elderly population grows, it is becoming more common for seniors to choose to enter Continuing Care Retirement Communities (“CCRCs”). CCRCs are retirement communities that offer different levels of care, such as independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing, or combinations of different levels of care. These type of communities allow seniors to “age in place” and offer many attractive features, such as activities, companionship with other seniors, meal preparation, healthcare, housekeeping etc.
However, entrance to this type of community usually requires the resident sign a contract. It is essential that the resident or his/her representative, carefully review and understand the terms of the contract and the rules and regulations of the CCRC, prior to signing a contract or entering the CCRC. Reviewing this type of contract can often be cumbersome and confusing to the average individual, but careful review of the contact prior to entering the CCRC can prevent problems and misunderstandings later, when it may be too late or impossible to remedy an issue.
Listed below are some common factors to consider when evaluating a CCRC or reviewing its contract:
* Type of fees required (deposit, entrance, monthly, etc.) and whether the fees are refundable;
* What is required for termination of the contract;
* Levels of care (independent, assisted living, skilled nursing). Which levels of care are included in the contract, how does the resident move from one level of care to another if needed at a later time, and who makes that determination;
* Is specialized Dementia care provided;
* What are the occupancy rates;
* What is the resident-to-staff ratio;
* Are parking spaces provided, is there a garage, process for snow removal;
* Are meals included, are there restaurants on site or a cafeteria, can meals be delivered to the resident’s room;
* How often and how much do monthly rates increase;
* Does the contract call for binding arbitration, thereby limiting the resident’s right to access the courts or request a jury trial in the event of an injury to the resident, are there limitations on damages;
* Are pets allowed and are there limitations as to breed or size;
* Is medication management available and the cost; and
* Does the CCRC accept Medicaid if the resident is no longer able to pay privately or do they have a benevolent fund.
Is it especially important to find out the financial status of the CCRC. Is the CCRC financially solid, if not, this might lead to increased fees in the future. The Pennsylvania Insurance Department has a website where you can search for CCRCs in Pennsylvania and access information, including exam reports on the facility, financial statements, Board of Directors, fee policies, management, etc. Their website is located at http://www.insurance.state.pa.us/dsf/ccfsearch.html.
It is also a good idea to visit the facility and spend some time there, interact with and talk to residents to see if they are happy and enjoy living there. You may also want to eat in the dining room or restaurants to see if you like the food.
These are just a few of the many important factors to consider when evaluating a CCRC or when reviewing its contact. Of course, it is always advisable to have an attorney review the contract before signing it. To speak with one of our Estate Planning or Elder Law attorneys, contact McAndrews Law Offices at 610-648-9300.