carol woods: living wage
employer of the month
Chapel Hill’s Carol Woods has long been a thriving community for retirees. The Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) offers a full spectrum of care, from cottages, to one-bedroom apartments, assisted living, and nursing. Carol Woods also boasts a huge variety of activities and amenities. Great as all that sounds, those features alone don’t truly distinguish Carol Woods from other CCRCs.
Where Carol Woods is different, says Ken Reeb, Vice President of Finance and Planning, is in its Early Acceptance program and Plan B pricing. Carol Woods pioneered the early acceptance concept five years ago. With early acceptance, a resident buys into Carol Woods but decides on their own timeline for moving – if they decide to move at all. They can remain in their own home, with full access to all Carol Woods’ facilities, programs, and amenities. Or, they can move onto campus whenever their choice of housing becomes available.
Reeb says the program ensures potential residents that higher levels of care will be available when needed. Our of their first Early Acceptance cohort, about a third have decided to move to campus.
Plan B pricing is an entrance fee plus a monthly fee – again, not so different from other CCRCs. But Carol Woods’ fees frontload a portion of the cost of higher levels of care, so that when a resident needs access to assisted living or nursing, they are not exposed to the full cost. Carol Woods protects the frailer members of their community physically and financially, says Reeb. Residents pay about half the typical costs for assisted living and nursing.
The bottom line is that potential Carol Woods residents have a range of options for excellent care as they age. And a big part of that care comes from staff earning living wages (or higher).
“There is a huge correlation between the service you provide and the degree to which you compensate your people,” says Reeb. “Our residents, management, and board get that. Carol Woods has paid a living wage since 1999.” And they offer an excellent benefits package, including payment of full health insurance premiums.
Maya Brown, a Certified Nursing Assistant, says: “because Carol Woods pays its employees well, it is a much friendlier and more cooperative place to work. The work ethic here is better and I think our nursing staff is very motivated to do a good job.”
Of Carol Woods’ 350 employees, more than a quarter have been on staff from 5 to 15 years – a great benchmark in an industry that sees high turnover among staff.
Virginia Steffensen has been at Carol Woods while she recovers from a broken shoulder. “The Carol Woods Rehab Center may not be home, but it sure feels homey,” says Steffensen. “The entire staff is nurturing, while also working me hard so I can get back on my feet again. When I do get home, I’ll miss all the new friends I have made here at Carol Woods.”
Virginia Steffensen and Carol Woods Resident Life Specialist Phyllis S.
You can find Carol Woods at www.carolwoods.org or at 919-968-4511. Learn more about Carol Woods as an employer here.