JKV resident Dave Bayer

My wife Jackie and I thought that we had done a proper amount of “due diligence” research before deciding to begin the process of becoming John Knox Village residents. Boy, were we wrong. I’m pleased to report, however, that the vast majority of what we didn’t know, but learned after we got here, turned out to be pretty darn good. For example:

  1. Resident Representation

For both the Florida Life Care Residents Association (FLiCRA) and the National Continuing Care Residents Association (NaCCRA), having residents on the Board of Directors of their members’ communities is high on their priority lists. In Florida, only around one-third of the Life-Plan Communities have any residents serving on their boards, and some are not voting members. Nationwide, the percentage is even less

JKV has had residents who are voting members on their Board of Directors for over 40 years. Three resident board members serve staggered three-year terms. Recently, after a resident successfully completed his three-year term, he was asked to return to the board as a “Community Board Member.” That means that four of the 13 board members are residents. Our JKV resident board members have voluntarily served with diligence and integrity while helping to ensure that the entire board remains aware of their fellow residents’ concerns and desires.

 

  1. Size Matters

The average number of residents in a ContinuingCare/Life-Plan Community is around 300. With almost 1,000 residents, John Knox Village is the ninth largest independent life-plan community in the country. This provides an excellent economy of scale, a much better variety of activities on campus, and a larger social network.

 

  1. Florida Statute 651

The official title of this statute is “Continuing Care Contracts,” but it is so much more. This statute establishes protection for residents regarding how CCRCs are administered, especially regarding financial and operating requirements for those providing the services and for the rights of the residents. The federal government has traditionally not played a very active role in regulating how retirement communities are managed, leaving it up to the individual states. Mostly due to the provisions of FS 651, Florida’s laws protecting the safety, lifestyle, and general well-being of CCRC residents are among the best, if not the best, in the nation.

 

  1. Foundation And Employee Gift Fund

The John Knox Village Foundation was founded in 2006. Its mission is to enhance and improve the lifestyle and future well-being of JKV residents through effective acquisition and stewardship of contributions from both residents and team members, and the surrounding community. Last year the Foundation received over $1 million in donations, and had over $15 million in assets as of Dec. 31, 2020. These funds are used to provide enhancements, programs, buildings, equipment, and help for individuals, too many to list here. In addition to the generous donations to the Foundation, last year our residents donated over $700,000 to the Employee Holiday Gift Fund. Taken together, these donations and grants to JKV causes, plus assistance to residents and employees, speak volumes for the well-established generous and caring culture of our Village.

 

  1. The Woodlands

When The Woodlands opened in 2016, it was Florida’s first GREEN HOUSE® Project model of nursing home care. As was mentioned in September’s Gazette, appreciation of the very significant benefits of the Green House model of care is gaining national attention. While The Woodlands was about the 100th such project, the number is now over 350. A recent New York Times article stated, “Research indicates clinical advantages to this care model, finding Green House residents less likely than residents in traditional facilities to require hospitalization, to wind up bedridden, to develop pressure ulcers or to need catheters. (Fewer hospitalizations have translated into lower Medicare costs.) Other studies show lower turnover among the staff and higher levels of satisfaction among aides, residents and residents’ families.”

In reflecting on what Jackie and I learned after we became residents, I would share the following suggestions with anyone who might be considering a move to a Life-Plan Community: Look within Florida first, as our laws provide better protection for your quality of life. Likewise, it is important to determine if the community you are considering is covered by FS 651. Investigate the governance. I believe that residents are generally best served within communities that have their fellow residents as voting members on their governing boards.

Carefully consider the advantages of being part of a larger Life-Plan Community. It is often difficult to determine the culture of a community from the outside, but give it your best shot. It will make a big difference down the road. Lastly, be sure to check out the situation regarding assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing. Most of us find that we would like to think more about the pleasant activities associated with independent living, but it never hurts to cover all your bases.

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