Operators Rally to Rename the CCRC

Continuing Care Retirement Community. It’s a 13-syllable moniker that has long held its place as the descriptor for hundreds of communities across the nation that provide a host of services and opportunities for people in their later years.

But those in the business of operating and marketing the communities say the name isn’t doing them, or their residents, any favors.

The name has been around for decades, but that could change this year as the result of a campaign currently underway by LeadingAge and its members to come up with new CCRC terminology. The initiative was spearheaded by Mather LifeWays, which has already scaled back on the use of related terms among its communities, and says the time is long overdue to refocus on what these communities really have to offer.

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“’Continuing Care’ really sells the end stage of what a CCRC can provide,” says Mary Leary, president and CEO of Mather LifeWays, an owner/operator of two CCRC communities, including The Mather in Evanston, Ill. “We would like to remove the focus on that and focus instead on the more aspirational aspects for older adults to give them something to look forward to. These are things that relate to engagement, capability, productivity and staying connected.”

It has been 12 years since Mather LifeWays first began to rethink the terminology used across its own CCRCs. It now uses terms such as “experience centers,” “experience directors,” and “life centers” to describe the people and places within a community, but wanted to bring the initiative to a broader audience.

The organization approached national association LeadingAge and found other providers, as well as their marketing partners, shared the sentiment.

“The name has served its purpose, and it’s time for something new,” says Alishia Parkhill, LeadingAge vice president of marketing. “We need something that will help providers describe their services more accurately. In most markets, it’s unfamiliar. That’s what the research shows.”

To date, the organization has launched a campaign, NameStorm, to rename the CCRC, with hopes to unveil a new name this spring, and to complete the process within a year. The process will include a national poll seeking input on the types of terms that may garner a stronger appeal among providers, but also feedback from prospective and current residents and the general population.

LeadingAge also has called on several marketing firms for assistance: those who serve CCRC members across the country.

“These folks are invested and they understand the pains of having to try to market around the CCRC name and make that meaningful,” Parkhill says.

Focus groups and more in-depth interviews in six markets across the nation also will take place to hone in on the new name. The focus groups will include sentiment questions geared toward more general responses, as well as some more specific questions.

The association will soon be distributing the poll through its membership channels, but says it has already received hundreds of submissions.

“This is not just about our members,” Parkhill says. “We want everyone to participate.”

And while the new name is still to-be-determined, some of the ideas included in the poll are Engaged Living Community, Vital Living Community, Continuing Choice Community, ActivAge Community, and PrimEra Community, among others. What’s for certain, though, is that the new name will address some shortcomings of the current nomenclature.

“Rather than focusing on services, we want to focus on the customer experience,” Leary says. “The name has to be memorable and easy to say.”

Written by Elizabeth Ecker

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