NY Times: Separating the Healthy from the Frail at CCRCs

It used to be that residents requiring different levels of care could still dine together in continuing care retirement community (CCRC) Harbor’s Edge’s River Terrace dining room.

Whether residents occupied the community’s independent living units, assisted living apartments, or skilled nursing units, they could all join each other at the dinner table—until last spring, when the community’s managers began separating the healthy from the frail, writes the New York Times’ “The New Old Age” blog.

“[L]ast spring, managers declared the River Terrace and two other dining facilities at the community off limits to anyone but independent living residents. Assisted living residents were told to use their own small dining room; nursing residents were restricted to theirs.


Family members were instructed to join them there. But longtime friends—and several married couples—who lived in separate parts of the facility could no longer share meals in the main dining room. Those in assisted living or nursing care also were also barred from community events like the Fourth of July celebration.

[T]he new policy initially stemmed from overcrowding, said Neil Volder, a former real estate developer who built the complex and is its executive director.

Moreover, managers believed that the policy of letting residents of various degrees of disability dine together violated Virginia state regulations, Mr. Volder said, and left Harbor’s Edge vulnerable to lawsuits or revoked licenses.”


It wasn’t long before residents began fighting what they considered discrimination and trying to reverse the new rules, says the Times, although some residents agreed with the policy.

The community ultimately offered up a compromise, saying that those who originally entered independent living but had since transitioned to assisted living could undergo an assessment to determine whether or not they would be allowed to continue using the dining room.

Read the full “Tables Reserved for the Healthiest” article here.

Written by Alyssa Gerace