Last year, we shared the story of a continuing care retirement community (CCRC, also called a life plan community) in Evanston, Illinois — Three Crowns Park — that came up with a creative way to encourage intergenerational interactions on their campus. Located across the street from a facility that hosts a variety of children’s sports camps, Three Crowns Park decided to invite campers onto their CCRC campus for daily ice cream socials with residents. It turned out to be an enjoyable treat for all involved!
We’ve also shared the stories of other CCRCs that have opted to open up their on-campus dining facilities to their larger community. Still other communities allow the public to make use of their on-campus walking trails or charge a nominal fee for the public to take advantage of the CCRC’s wellness center and pool.
Such “open door” policies can be a business-savvy move for a CCRC, generating revenue, often with little additional overhead expense. But there are additional benefits as well, for the CCRC, its residents, and the local community.
Perks of acting as epicenter to the larger community
In effect, CCRCs that allow the use of certain services or amenities by members of the public are positioning themselves as a focal point of their larger community — a “community center” of sorts. Such policies bring younger faces onto campus and also can serve as a marketing tool for potential future residents, showcasing the community’s campus.
There are additional ways CCRCs can position themselves as a “community center” and reap the associated benefits. For instance:
- Most CCRCs have meeting spaces or multipurpose rooms that sit vacant for much of the day. These rooms could be rented out or lent free of charge to community groups or volunteer organizations for meetings or service projects.
- Banquet rooms can be rented out to groups for everything from lunch meetings to bridal showers or fundraisers for not-for-profit community organizations. The added benefit is showcasing the CCRC’s food service offerings to a group of potential prospective residents!
- Some CCRCs even have on-campus daycares or before- and after-school programs. As we have written about before, bringing children onto a CCRC campus for intergenerational programming is a win for the children and the residents.
- A CCRC’s library or reading room can serve as an ideal location for an after-school resident-student tutoring program.
- It also can benefit students to come on campus for volunteer opportunities with residents. Programs where children and residents work on a project for a common cause can make all participants feel a sense of empathy and pride.
- A CCRC can be an ideal venue for a community art show. Not only do art shows enliven the walls of the CCRC with an array of attractive, new artwork, they also can entice members of the community to come on campus to enjoy the artwork as well.
- Many CCRCs have spacious campuses with ample greenspace and parking, especially on the weekends. Hosting a farmers’ market for local food producers or craftspeople could be a mutually beneficial relationship — giving small farms a venue to sell their produce and bringing fresh food to residents’ doorsteps.
A community-centric mindset
Indeed, each CCRC is a community unto itself, but it also is situated within a broader neighborhood, community, and town. It should not be walled off from that larger world but rather act as caring and considerate neighbors.
With this in mind, like all citizens within a society, it is the CCRC’s responsibility to contribute to the good of that larger community. By becoming a de facto “community center” — literally and figuratively — a CCRC can be a good neighbor to those who live nearby, while also reaping rewards for its residents, prospect pipeline, and even the bottom line.
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