American Senior Living Models in China

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The Continuing Care Retirement Community has long been the preeminent model of senior care in the United States. Its dominance is a testament to its stability and capacity for attracting residents because of its promise of safety, security, and lifestyle in long-term care.

In China, entrants into the market are taking two approaches—starting small with a development that only provides one type of service, or starting at a very large scale with many active adult or Independent Living units. Starting small allows the owner/operator to test their operational structure in the pilot facility; however, they are unlikely to turn a profit. A large-scale development has a very large upfront investment, but the payoff is larger because of the economies of scale. The CCRC model lends itself to the mid- to large-scale development. Its future in China is not yet known, but the model is promising.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) offer some combination of

Independent Living, Assisted Living, and Skilled Nursing on the same campus, providing a large range of services. CCRCs also include commons and support spaces and other wellness-focused functions such as rehabilitation and fitness centers. CCRCs can be high-rises in urban environments or sprawling developments in suburban or rural areas. Independent Living makes up the majority of units, typically 70%-80% while Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing make up the rest.

A key distinction is that of between for-profit and not-for-profit communities. Not-for-profit communities, whose primary purpose is to provide services in line with their mission, are starting to focus more on helping seniors stay in their own homes as long as possible by offering home and community based services. For-profit communities, on the other hand, typically seek to encourage seniors to move in as early as possible and therefore market the hospitality aspects more heavily to potential clients.

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