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What Is a Life Plan Community?

Advisor shaking hands with senior woman.

What is a Life Plan Community?


When you read about senior living, you’ll likely come across the term, “Life Plan Community.” Also known as a CCRC (continuing care retirement community), a Life Plan Community refers to a senior living community that offers residents an independent lifestyle with inclusive services and amenities, as well as priority access to higher level care options if ever needed.

Are Life Plan Communities all the same?


Life Plan Communities and CCRCs are not all the same because they offer varying types of senior living contracts. These senior living contracts outline the services and amenities provided in the community and how much residents pay for health care. In general, Type A contracts are considered the best value in terms of access, benefits and savings. At Casa, our Type A contract allows residents to seamlessly transition between different levels of care such as assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing or caregiver support services. There’s virtually no additional increase to their monthly fee. And, if a resident should outlive their ability to pay, through no fault of their own, they are taken care of through Casa’s benevolent fund.  Because of the financial benefit and promise to care for residents for life, seniors must come into the community in good health.  Therefore, it’s important not to delay the decision and instead, move while you are able to qualify. Casa de las Campanas offers this top-tier contract, and in fact Casa is the only not-for-profit Type A Life Plan Community in San Diego County.


How does a Life Plan Community work?


Life Plan Communities typically charge a one-time entrance fee upfront. The amount is based on the size of the residence you choose and the number of people who will be living in it (you, or you and one other occupant). It may seem counterintuitive, but entrance fees can ultimately make your retirement more cost effective — and provide greater predictability. By paying an entrance fee, you’re assured of lifetime access to continuing care: the “plan for life” inherent in the name Life Plan Community. At a not-for-profit community like Casa de las Campanas, these entrance fees are reinvested in infrastructure, community offerings, and health care services to ensure the highest-quality and best living experience for our residents.


What are the financial advantages of a Life Plan Community?


In a continuing care retirement community like Casa de las Campanas, your estate won’t be depleted by the rising costs of long-term care, because care is prearranged and available at predictable prices well below market rates.  There are also advantages to be had depending on the type of contract the community offers. In general, Life Plan Communities offer two types of entrance fee contracts:


  • Nonrefundable entrance fees carry a smaller price tag, but they usually don’t return money to a senior or their family in the event of a move or death, or after the senior has lived in the community for a certain period.
  • Refundable entrance fees are higher in cost, but a percentage of the fee is returned if a senior moves out or passes away. Refundable plans make sure there’s something left for the resident’s family/heirs.


At Casa de las Campanas, our Type A contract offers you choices on how you manage your assets. A standard contract allows for a lower entrance fee, but the fee will amortize over time. A return-of-capital contract calls for a larger entrance fee, but 75% will be returned to you or your estate. You have more control over your finances and the legacy you leave to your heirs. It’s also possible to save on your taxes, as a portion of your entrance fee may be tax-deductible. We recommend you speak to a tax advisor to determine your eligibility. Our website also has a host of planning tools and other resources you may find helpful. Follow this link to see them all.


While residences remain, we’re offering $25,000 off one-bedroom apartment entrance fees when you reserve by December 31.


Are there other fees at a Life Plan Community?


After you move in, you’ll pay a monthly fee. This covers all the costs of daily living you’d normally have in a house, such as meals, maintenance, utilities, housekeeping and so on, but you’ll also have the convenience of services and amenities you wouldn’t get at home. At Casa de las Campanas, there are many: Think gourmet dining at our on-campus restaurants, flat linen service, a fully equipped fitness center with a massage room, an all-season indoor pool and heated outdoor pool, arts and crafts studio, hair and nail salon, entertainment and social events, local transportation, and more.


Why should seniors choose a Life Plan Community?


Healthy and active older adults who enter independent living in a Life Plan Community like Casa get the most value for their money. They enjoy retirement without the hassles and chores of homeownership, with the freedom to indulge their zest for life as they wish: travel, family, friendships, social activities, lifelong learning, etc. Because Life Plan Communities focus on whole-person wellness programs designed specifically for seniors, they can also look forward to maintaining and bettering their quality of life for the long term. And, if their health needs change, they can count on easy access to a full continuum of senior health care, without having to relocate to another community.


What kinds of health services are there?


Living in a CCRC such as ours is an assurance that if long-term care is ever needed — assisted living, memory care, rehabilitation, skilled nursing, or in-home care services — you’ll have that care. And you’ll receive it for about the same monthly rate you pay for independent living. It’s high-quality care for significantly less than what you’d pay elsewhere, as it’s a predetermined, highly reduced rate. You’ll know where your or your loved one will receive care, who will provide it, and what it will cost.


How does a Life Plan Community provide peace of mind?


The reason so many older adults turn to a Life Plan Community or CCRC is because of the stability it provides. They have lifetime residency within the community, and lifetime access to high-quality care. They’re guaranteed a place to live even if they run out of finances through no fault of their own. Plus, they won’t have to cope with moving elsewhere in case of a health emergency. In a Life Plan Community like Casa de las Campanas, our full continuum of care ensures that if you or your spouse ever need care, you won’t be far apart. We understand it’s tough to plan ahead when you don’t know what the future will bring — but we’ve been doing this awhile  (33 years to be exact) and we have additional ideas to share with you in a helpful guide you can download here.


Awarded Best in San Diego, Again and Again


Casa de las Campanas has served San Diego’s seniors for over 30 years, with this year marking our 33rd anniversary. We’re proud to be awarded “Best Retirement/Independent Living Community” in three polls this year: San Diego’s Best — Union-Tribune Readers Poll, San Diego Reader — Best of Poll, and Pomerado News’ Best of North Inland Reader’s Poll, which we’ve won for eight years running. We’re passionate about giving San Diego County seniors a rewarding lifestyle, financial security, and peace of mind for years to come. Contact us to find out more about our continuing care retirement community.