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Staff Experience for Continuing Care Retirement Communities

By Lillian L. Hyatt, M.S.W., and a Resident of a CCRC

Excerpted from the Summer 2004 The CANHR Advocate newsletter

Although costs are a major concern upon entry into CCRCs, a question that is rarely asked by CCRC applicants is: what qualifications are required in order to become an Executive Director of a CCRC? Some may find it troubling that, in the State of California, a person from almost any background can be appointed as Executive Director. In an informal survey conducted in 2003, it was discovered that an accountant, a former military man, a minister with a background as a successful fund raiser, a person who had a career in police work and a literature major who had taken a short certificate course in Gerontology at a state university all became Executive Directors of facilities providing comprehensive long term health care services for the elderly.

Of course, the same question about experience with care for the elderly should be asked regarding other employees: professional nursing staff, Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA’s) and Food Service Directors. Another concern is the social work staff. Does the facility have a Social Worker on staff with an MSW or LCSW, or is the staff person a Social Work Designee who can be a high school graduate without a single course in either gerontology or social work?

When residents move into CCRCs, they often invest a substantial portion of their life savings with hopes that the new facilities will become their homes for the rest of their lives. These factors, along with the possibility of transfer trauma if a resident has to leave the facility, can make it very difficult for residents to move if they are dissatisfied with facility staff. Therefore, it is important to know exactly what you are getting into when you move into a CCRC. Rather than becoming a "captive" in an avoidable situation, you should ask questions about all of your concerns upon entry, including staffing concerns.