A Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) is an organization that provides a secure and comfortable place for senior citizens to live, with an agreement that assures a continuum of care as their needs change over time through the rest of their lives. CCRCs generally include independent living residences which are rented on a monthly basis; memory care facilities; assisted living; and skilled nursing.
At a CCRC, residents usually live independently in apartments or town homes. They are guaranteed continuing access to the residence. CCRCs must also offer assisted living and skilled nursing services nearby. Often, the resident agreement describes how the prices for these additional services will be calculated in order to reduce future financial risks. CCRCs may have additional facilities for dementia care and offer other specialized services. Nonprofit CCRCs recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as tax-exempt are required to assure that residents will not be forced to leave the facility if, through no fault of their own, they become unable to pay the scheduled fees. (For more detailed information see the Consumer Guide.)
Washington State law defines CCRCs in chapter 18.390 of the Revised Code of Washington. If you’re curious, you can read the text of 18.390 RCW online at this Washington government website. The full text of the IRS requirement is also online. WACCRA provides a Q&A about chapter 18.390 of Washington’s laws on the Legislation page.
Although CCRCs have been known for some time by that name and are frequently called Continuing Care Retirement Communities, the term “Life Plan Community” is used in some other states and sometimes here in Washington to describe residential facilities that offer a similar range of services to seniors. (A CCRC in Dallas, Texas, offers an explanation of the two terms on its website.)
“Life Plan” should not be confused with “Life Care” when describing residential facilities. “Life Plan” is an alternative to the term CCRC for identifying a broad range of residential facilities; “Life Care” is the name given by some CCRCs to the kind of contract that requires an entry fee and monthly residence fees while offering assisted living, skilled nursing, and dementia care services (often at less than the open market fees).
The state of Washington requires a CCRC to be registered with the Department of Social and Health Services and provide information about its facilities and services to that agency and to prospective residents. It does not license or inspect CCRCs. A list of the registered CCRCs is on the department’s website at CCRC Registry Lookup (wa.gov)
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