Finding proper care as we age is an important financial and emotional decision. I had the opportunity to talk with Martha Maksym, the CEO of Wake Robin. Located in Shelburne, Wake Robin is Vermont’s only Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC).
Tell me about your personal experience and how you became the CEO of Wake Robin.
Graduating from UVM with a Spanish degree proved challenging when it came time to start a career, so I worked at a bank for eight years in Burlington. But this was not feeding my soul and I found my calling working in the nonprofit sector, most notably spending 22 years at United Way, where I eventually acted as Executive Director. I was then tapped by Governor Scott’s administration to serve as Deputy Director of the Agency of Human Services. While this was an incredible experience, I felt too far removed from the people being served. The opening at Wake Robin allowed me to get back to the frontlines in a leadership role to make real change in our community.
What is a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC)?
At its core, a CCRC is a form of long-term care insurance. Wake Robin is regulated by the Vermont Department of Finance as an insurance product. When you come to Wake Robin, or any other CCRC, you are buying into that community and receiving in return a commitment to provide graduated levels of care that you may need throughout the remainder of your life.
What steps should someone take if they are interested in joining a CCRC?
Do your research. There are lots of resources online, but nothing will compare with reaching out directly to the CCRC to have a conversation. You will be able to get a better understanding of their culture and what they offer. You should always ask to see a sample contract, which will give you important information while you assess your options.
What are the health and financial requirements for joining a CCRC like Wake Robin?
We conduct a thorough financial and health assessment for each applicant. Our health evaluation must determine that you have a high likelihood of living independently for a minimum of two years. Financially, we evaluate your income sources, investments, and other assets to ensure you are able to meet your entrance fee and ongoing monthly fees.
CCRCs offer different types of contracts. Wake Robin has a “Type A” contract where you pay an upfront entrance fee which we set aside to pay for your long-term care. There is also a monthly fee that residents pay to provide property maintenance, housekeeping, meals, and a wide variety of activities to help keep residents engaged.
If a resident has a long-term care policy already, can they use that to cover expenses at Wake Robin?
Yes. We provide an entrance fee concession of $40,000 per person if they keep a long-term care policy, but they must keep that policy in good standing for their lifetime. The major risk is premiums increasing sharply on those insurance products, which could put people in difficult financial situations. Most stop paying traditional long-term care insurance premiums and shift that risk to Wake Robin.
Do monthly fees increase over time?
Yes, we evaluate the current landscape within our industry and the overall economy and adjust our fees each year. In general, our fees will increase in line with inflation.
What health services are available at Wake Robin?
Initially everyone lives independently in their own home within the community. At some point you or your partner might require a higher level of care. We have three levels of care at Wake Robin. The first is residential care, where residents require minimal nursing care. The second level is skilled nursing care, which equates to a nursing home level of care. The third is our memory care facility.
What happens if a resident runs out of money?
We work very hard at the front end to understand each resident’s financial situation and ability to afford our services. However, we do maintain a residence assistance fund should this unlikely situation arise.
What makes Wake Robin unique?
Our community is what we call, “resident driven.” People come to Wake Robin to stimulate their minds and bodies. They want to stay active and have say over what programs and activities are available to them. This is not for everyone, but we pride ourselves on having a very active community.