Residents Attend VaCCRA Meeting

On September 25, Sunnyside residents Jack Mathison, Sue Johnson, and Susan Sheridan attended the Annual Meeting of the Virginia Continuing Care Residents Association (VaCCRA) in Mechanicsville, VA. The meeting was attended by residents of nine continuing care communities around the state.

The highlight of the meeting was a presentation by Steven Maag, Director of Residential Communities at the Leading Age consulting group, on the topic: “Future and Trends for CCRCs.” Maag first discussed the market for CCRCs, dividing current and potential residents into generally-recognized epochal categories, such as “Depression Era,” “World War II, “ “Baby Boomers,” etc. He stated that most current residents are from the first two categories, and most marketing efforts are now aimed at the third category. He foresees no decrease in the demand for CCRCs.

Maag then described new directions being taken by various CCRCs. Many are constructing cafes or bistros, and almost all are offering alcoholic beverages with meals. Several communities have entered some of their food services dishes in local “Taste of the Town” competitions, and one facility was awarded a prize for “best main dish.” Other communities have invited outside neighbors to stop by for a meal now and then, as an introduction to the community, and one facility has given its residents cards that entitle them to a certain number of meals in the dining facility, as well as a few meals at local restaurants. Members of the communities represented at the meeting reported on many efforts to renovate, upgrade, and expand their facilities in all areas – residences, grounds, wellness areas, health care departments. Jack Mathison mentioned renovation efforts at Sunnyside and our latest acquisition of land formerly included in the neighboring golf course.

Maag concluded his talk with a description of efforts being made by some CCRCs to work with the larger communities in which they are located. These efforts may include increased volunteering by residents in the larger community, educational opportunities such as the Lifelong Learning Institute here in Harrisonburg, current event discussion groups, and other efforts to provide for the interests of their residents and to ward against feelings of depression or isolation that may creep into an older population. One community reported that they are encouraging discussion of future activities by featuring the TED Talk “What Makes a Good Life?” This and other TED Talks will be used to stimulate discussion. Some CCRCs are also looking to provide resources to local residents on a fee-for-services basis, as an extension of their business. Such services might include wellness, physical therapy, physician-sharing, and home visits for members or the larger community who want and are able to continue living in their private residences. There seems to be a great deal of creative thinking going on in the boardrooms of CCRC management organizations.

One other trend noted by Maag is that the industry seems to be moving away from the label of “continuing care community.” In its place, some are suggesting that we be called “life plan communities.” You say “To-MAY-to”; I say “To-MAH-to!”

The meeting included a tasty lunch served in the Covenant Woods CCRC, election of new officers, and friendly sharing of information and ideas among attendees.

Sue and Susan attended this meeting at the behest of Jack, who is a past president of VaCCRA. Anyone is free to join the organization and attend meetings. The next state-wide meeting is scheduled for January 2018. More information can be found at .. VaCCRA is a subsidiary of the National Continuing Care Retirement Resident Association - --Susan Sheridan