With the median age rising for entrants into the independent living portion of many continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs), providers are looking for ways to position their communities to attract younger incoming residents.
Positioning communities to attract younger residents boils down to targeting a larger market space, and this can encompass a variety of methods: tweaking or expanding entrance fee refund and monthly payment structures; offering pricing incentives to couples, and integrating more activities with the outside community.
The first step in attracting younger residents is to target couples, says Brian Schiff, Senior Vice President at Greystone Communities. The older half of the couple is 78, on average, he says, while the second age (often the female spouse) is generally a lot closer to 70.
This goes along with the findings of a study published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Geriatrics Society that older women are more likely to enter a senior care facility because they’re often married to older men who are less able to provide care.
Adjusting pricing for couples
There are a couple methods Greystone Communities has implemented to attract couples, and one of those was to eliminate an entrance fee for the second person in a couple.
In the past, Greystone’s entrance fee structure for couples charged about $300,000 for the first person, and an additional $25,000 for the second. But now, the senior living provider charges just one entrance fee for the unit.
Monthly service fees are another place where couples are “very price sensitive,” says Schiff. Traditionally, both spouses pay a monthly service fee, but the “second” spouse’s fee is lower than the “first.” While there are still fees for both members of a couple, Greystone has shifted the second person’s monthly fee significantly downward.
The way they’re able to do this is by changing the way healthcare benefits are structured. It used to be that the second person in a couple could pay the same amount after moving into skilled nursing care as she had for independent living—say, $995 a month. Now, Greystone charges both spouses the same amount if they transition into a higher level of care, regardless of whether they’re the “first” or “second” member of the couple.
“If they don’t use [the higher level of care], they don’t incur the expense,” Schiff explains. But if they do, he continues, “We shifted the cost to the time when you use the expensive care, rather than charge them more for when they’re using inexpensive care. Most residents look at it two ways: ‘I’m not going to need the higher level of care;’ or, ‘It’s still a bargain.'”
Entrance fee refund structures
Greystone has also begun offering a variety of different pricing plans. The most commonly used plan is the 90% refund structure, Schiff says, but his company has found a market for lower prices on both entrance fees and monthly service fees.
“We’ve expanded to offer a 50% entrance fee refund plan, which reduces the monthly service fees by 20%,” says Schiff. “This can be very attractive to an income-restrained couple.” There’s also a 0% refund plan, which cuts monthly fees by 30%.
Adding more entrance fee refund structures is a strategy Senior Care Development’s CEO David Reis plans to implement at the Clare, which his company recently acquired in a partnership venture with Life Care Companies and Fundamental Advisors, called Chicago Senior Care.
Chicago-area CCRC the Clare’s independent living units were only about 35% at the time of sale, which Reis says has to do with entrance fee refund contracts that were “off-mark.”
While the community’s current plan is a predominantly 90% refund structure, Reis says new options will include 50% and 0% refund-of-capital plans, enabling a lower up-front entrance fee he expects will be attractive to incoming residents.
“It’s all about, ‘How do I broaden my market so I can attract more people?'” says Schiff.
Written by Alyssa Gerace
Coming soon: Using Programing to Attract Younger Residents into CCRCs