Is the New Name for CCRCs a Winner?

From here on out, continuing care retirement communities may be called “Life Plan Communities” — or not.

The new term emerged out of a lengthy process spearheaded by LeadingAge and Mather LifeWays, which revealed shortcomings in the “CCRC” terminology. Still, even leaders of the project admit that there’s no telling whether the newly proposed alternative will have staying power.

The proposed name change was announced Sunday in conjunction with LeadingAge’s 2015 Annual Meeting and Expo in Boston. The association represents approximately 6,000 not-for-profit senior services and care providers.


LeadingAge and Mather LifeWays, a nonprofit that owns and operates one CCRC in Illinois and one in Arizona, led the two-year renaming initiative in partnership with marketing firms GlynnDevins, Brooks Adams Research, Love & Company, Varsity and SB&A Integrated Marketing.

“All this is a big experiment,” Larry Minnix, outgoing LeadingAge president and CEO, told Senior Housing News. “We want to stir the pot.”

The change is needed because the phrase “continuing care” implies a setting where older adults are being cared for, rather than a setting that also fosters new experiences and growth, according to a press release about the proposed name.


In research conducted prior to the proposed name change, 84% of future consumers age 65 and younger picked a term other than CCRC for the category name, the release said.

“The emerging generation of consumers didn’t recognize what a CCRC was,” Minnix told SHN.

If all goes as planned, LeadingAge will change the name of its CCRC membership to a Life Plan Community membership in a couple of years, Minnix said.

However, there’s a chance that there will be some opposition to the proposed name change. This possibility doesn’t phase Minnix, who has seen the industry evolve during his career.

“They don’t have to like it, they don’t have to use it,” Minnix said of LeadingAge members and the new name. “But keep in mind, 100 years ago, our members were called widows and orphans homes, and the people in them were inmates or patients, not residents.”

Still, there’s a chance the new name simply will not catch on.

“Stay tuned, because in the next 12 months, you’ll get a pretty good idea of whether the new label takes off, or doesn’t, or whether it will be replaced by something else,” Minnix told SHN.

Providers seem to be responding well to the new name, though, according to Derek Dunham, vice president of client services at Varsity. Varsity is a full-service strategic marketing firm based in Wormleysburg, Pennsylvania, that partners with organizations in spaces such as senior living.

The term “Life Plan Community” has “generally been very positively accepted” in his experience and conversations, Dunham told SHN.

Similarly, the new name is expected to appeal to people who are planners — the people usually attracted to a CCRC — Maura Richards, senior director of marketing strategies at Asbury Communities, told SHN. Maryland-based Asbury Communities operates four CCRCs, one retirement community and one skilled nursing facility in three states.

Richards said Asbury plans to roll out the new name over a six- to 12-month period. Though Asbury doesn’t use the term CCRC too much in its communications, the transition is still going to be an expense, she said.

The “Life Plan Community” proposal is not expected to be the start of an industrywide terminology overhaul.

“This is not intended to be the start of a wholesale change of language, from my perspective,” Dunham told SHN. “There is not a desire to change any other terminology in the industry.”

Written by Mary Kate Nelson

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