LeadingAge is not requiring its continuing care retirement community members to start calling themselves life plan communities, but the organization’s research indicates that doing so might help those members attract a new generation of prospective residents.

That’s one of the messages that representatives from LeadingAge, CCRC owner Mather LifeWays and several of the marketing and advertising agencies involved with the three-year effort that led to the suggested name shared with participants of a Dec. 2 webinar. LeadingAge hosted the event to answer questions from CCRC operators about why the name was chosen and how they can start using it.

The CCRC NameStorm task force sought feedback from corporate and industry leaders, conducted 34 focus groups and polled more than 4,000 current and prospective community residents in all 50 states. The research revealed that 84% of those aged 65 or fewer years preferred a name other than CCRC for the category, said Alishia Parkhill, LeadingAge’s director of marketing. That’s an important statistic, she added. “The work of this group is for the next cohort coming into your communities,” she reminded listeners. “This is not for who is already in your pipeline, on your prospect list or in your communities now.”

Language matters, said Brenda Schreiber, vice president of marketing, Mather LifeWays. Because of the word care in CCRC, she said, “People are viewing CCRCs as something they may eventually need as their health changes, which is really counter to what our desire is, to attract younger older adults” who want to lead active lives.

Lana Peck, director of research for Brooks Adams Research, added that research participants said they liked the term life plan community because it was easy to remember and piqued their interest in the category.

Since the name was announced Nov. 1 at LeadingAge’s annual meeting, the overall response from single-site and multi-site operators as well as corporations and other associations serving the industry has been positive, Parkhill said.

LeadingAge knows that it will take some time for members to transition to the new name — if they decide to do so — and has prepared a “launch kit” (PDF) to help.

The first step, said Rob Love, president of Love & Company, is to begin using the new name “anywhere where you would refer to your community as a CCRC.” Schreiber said that Mather LifeWays is changing its contracts and marketing materials as the opportunity arises through the normal review process. Its website, local ads and direct mail pieces will be updated first, she added.

LeadingAge is in the process of updating its website, too, Parkhill said. Future articles and materials for members will include both terms during a transition period.

Although it may be several years until regulators use the term life plan community — they likely will wait until the term is in wide use by those in the field, panelists said — CCRC operators can start to incorporate language into their contracts that specifies that a life plan community is a CCRC. Parkhill said that LeadingAge will work with members and state associations to implement changes at the state level.

LeadingAge has scheduled additional webinars for CCRC operators on Dec. 10 and 16. CCRC operators can send questions for the webinar in advance, or questions about life plan communities in general, to lifeplancommunity@leadingage.org.

“We want to pressure-test this,” Parkhill said. “We want the tough questions.”

Operators also can visit www.lifeplancommunity.org for additional information.

LeadingAge also is planning a session on the name change at its PEAK Leadership Summit, set for March 14 to 16 in Washington, D.C. Registration for the event will open in January, Parkhill said.

Lois A. Bowers is senior editor of McKnight’s Senior Living. Follow her on Twitter at @Lois_Bowers.