I was forced to confront this question: Is innovation and creativity in senior living always necessary or good?

Before I headed to Portland and Seattle a couple of weeks ago I received an invitation from Adam Payne, the marketing director for Mirabella. This is an almost new, 30 story high-rise CCRC located in Portland on the Columbia River. I spent an hour with Adam exploring the community. An added bonus was that Mirabella uses the Vigil emergency call system. The tour included taking a peak at most of the common areas with the highlight being a visit to an occupied top story residence that has an outdoor balcony and spectacular views of Portland and the Columbia river on three sides.  It is a vibrant community where lots of residents, at least at this point in the life cycle of the community, are very active.   The entrance fees range from $300,000 to slightly over $1,000,000, of which ninety percent is refundable.   They are full and have a waiting list that is perhaps 10 years long. It is one of the finest places I have ever visited.  I could easily see myself living there.

Is the CCRC Model Dead?

A number of months ago a reader suggested I should do an article that explores the question: 

“Is the CCRC model of senior living dead?’ 

It was a great question and asked at a time when housing prices were just starting to rebound and there were a number of CCRC’s that were in deep financial trouble.   While Mirabella is a single data point, its success certainly would suggest that with the right product in the right marketplace the CCRC model can still survive or, more accurately, thrive.

Innovation Overrated

During the course of our conversation Adam asked me what I most liked to write about and I responded that I particularly liked writing about senior living operators who are doing things that are innovative and creative.  He followed that question by asking me if I found anything at Mirabella that qualified. It was a good question, I was just not crazy about having to answer it.  In truth, I would be hard pressed to say I saw anything that I found to be particularly creative or innovative. And yet I found not a single thing to complain about. The more I thought about it, particularly in the arena of senior housing, it became really important to never forget that providing great service is the number one priority for any senior living community.  Innovation is not an absolute requirement to be a great community.  Innovation for innovation’s sake should never be the goal because it could,  in fact, be detrimental to the residents’ best interests.  Innovation should always only be undertaken with the goal of improving the lives of residents.  It should be undertaken to solve problems. In fact innovation is not for everyone, not for every senior community. I will continue to follow, explore, think about and write about senior living leaders and communities who are doing cool, innovative things because it satisfies my curiosity, because it makes for interesting stories and because ultimately some portion of the innovation process will become mainstream benefiting all of the senior living community. But I also appreciate that not every community can be or should be on the innovation track. Steve Moran

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