Making it happen: The retirement community move-in process

Retirement community move-in process – moving to senior living

Congratulations! You understand the advantages that a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) can offer and you’ve found somewhere that seems like it would be a great fit. Now you’re wondering what happens next. What are the steps for moving to a retirement community? This article will detail the move-in process.

1. Connect with the coordinator.

If past experiences in your life have you worried about the move-in process, you may be pleasantly surprised to learn that moving to a CCRC can be much easier than you think—because this time you won’t be going it alone. Most CCRCs provide a sales coordinator or move-in coordinator to help make the transition easy.

“I usually meet prospective residents when they’re here for a tour. Once they sign a Continuing Care Agreement (CCA), I serve as their main point of contact,” explains Jackie Donohoe, sales coordinator for Simpson at Jenner’s Pond in southern Chester County, PA. “From that point on, I walk with them through everything until they are moved in and settled.”

Donohoe knows the community inside and out. Her grandparents were among the first residents at Jenner’s Pond, signing their CCA in 1997 and eventually moving to Jenner’s Pond when it opened in 1999. They encouraged her to apply for a job at Jenner’s Pond when she was old enough to work. At 16, she started working in the dining room, first in the front of the house as a server and hostess and later in the back of the house doing pastry prep and cooking. Before becoming sales coordinator, Donohoe also worked in Resident Services and Activities.

“I like being involved, and I’ll jump in to help wherever I can,” she says.

2. Review the paperwork.

CCRCs offer a lot of services—and often, many choices. At Jenner’s Pond, Donohoe walks incoming residents through all the paperwork they’ll need to make the move. She helps them decide which dining plan is right for them.

“And I remind them that Jenner’s Pond’s four dining venues include a pub where residents can BYOB,” Donohoe says.

She reviews included services, such as snow removal, basic cable, an annual deep cleaning, weekly linen service trash removal, real estate taxes, emergency call system (monitored 24 hours a day by licensed personnel), routine maintenance, bus transportation to local shops and the YMCA and priority access to Assisted Living and nursing facilities. She also outlines services that are available for an additional fee, such as weekly, biweekly or monthly housekeeping, obtaining a Personal Emergency Transmitter that is worn on a lanyard with a button, that, when pushed, alerts our nursing stations. She explains that more involved maintenance may require an additional fee, as do some activities and bus trips.

3. Put the house up for sale.

As sales coordinator since February, 2020, Donohoe has helped dozens of individuals and couples make the move to Jenner’s Pond, so she has a solid understanding of what has worked for people and what hasn’t. She can offer a lot of tips on how to downsize from an existing home—and if do-it-yourself feels too daunting, she can connect new residents with professional downsizing companies that can help.

Maybe it’s been a while since you last moved. Even if it hasn’t, moving into a retirement community isn’t like any other moving process you’ve ever experienced. Along with downsizing insights, a good sales coordinator like Donohoe can give you tips on how to prepare your existing home for sale. She can also tell you what to look for in a REALTOR® and, if necessary, connect you with a trusted agent. The support doesn’t end there.


Senior living home after move-in coordinators help with moving into retirement community


4. Make your new home yours.

Jenner’s Pond allows new residents to customize their cottage or apartment if they do not find a move-in ready home that fits their needs. Donohoe works with future residents in the design center to help customize their new home.

“We can take a home down to the studs so incoming residents can redesign from scratch,” Donohoe explains.

She walks incoming residents through their options for flooring, lighting, cabinets and hardware, plumbing fixtures—even doorknobs and other details that make your home uniquely yours. She’ll explain which items are considered upgrades and if there is a fee for certain selections. Donohoe works closely with the Jenner’s Pond Director of facilities and outside contractors while renovations are underway.

5. Relax. You’re in good hands!

Perhaps the most important thing a sales coordinator does is to keep the move-in process on track. Donohoe manages the timeline through the move-in date, keeping tabs on the downsizing and home sale, as well as the renovations, so that all goes according to schedule. And when it doesn’t? That’s when move-in coordinators are worth their weight in gold.

For example, once Donohoe was working with an incoming resident whose planned move-in date was a few months in the future. Renovations on the new home were underway when the new resident put her original home on the market—and it sold in 48 hours! Not only that, but the buyers wanted to close quickly, so the new resident needed to move more quickly than was originally planned. Donohoe worked with the rest of the Jenner’s Pond team to arrange for a temporary residence on campus while the renovations on the new home were being completed. The team was able to get the work done a week ahead of the original schedule.

“The resident was so appreciative,” Donohoe says. “But that’s why I’m here—to help relieve new residents’ stress, even when the circumstances get challenging or things look like they might go haywire. Prospective residents should realize that we’ll never leave them hanging—our team is here to support them.”

That support doesn’t end after the movers deliver the boxes. She goes the extra mile to help new residents settle in to their home—and the community. Often, they’ll stop by her office to thank her for helping them make the transition.

“This job is so rewarding,” she says. “I love seeing new residents in their home when the process is over. There is no stress. They’re smiling and happy.”

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