NORCs are Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities - blog post by Financial Concierge
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NORCs – A Personalized Retirement Living Option in Your Own Community

Do You Live in a Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NORC)? Age in your own home and enjoy social, healthcare and lifestyle services tailored for age 65 plus residents.

Baby boomers are changing traditional thinking around retirement and aging. There are alternatives to living in congregate settings like retirement and long-term care facilities. Aging in one’s own home or retirement community with health and social care services is becoming a preferred option. A NORC is a building, community, or town where over 30% of the residents are over age 65, retired and want to live independently in their own homes. NORCs,

  • Could be a planned retirement community, like Elliot Lake Ontario, or unplanned where it occurs organically with changing demographics in an apartment building or within a community,
  • Represent a large unrecognized population that offers a big opportunity to serve older adults. In Ontario, 217,000 individuals live in NORCs compared to 75,000 in long-term care facilities and 56,000 in retirement homes.
  • Are not formally organized and require community involvement to design their programs and services.

NORC Benefits for Residents

Once a NORC is identified, this retirement living option offers many benefits for older adults and their families. They include:

  • Living in an intergenerational community with ample opportunities to interact with all ages groups offering diverse experiences and a reciprocal support system that benefits all.
  • Aging in your own home surrounded by a community and friends you are comfortable with and trust and supported by services identified by the NORC community group.
  • Enjoying programs and services gauged to the unique needs and preferences of your NORC group, and not a prescribed one size fits all program for a large congregate living setting.
  • Reducing your costs and improving your social interactions by leveraging healthcare and social support services with fellow NORC members and spreading the cost across the group.

NORC Advantages for Home Care Services

Private and government home care services also benefit greatly from the identification of NORCs. These advantages result in better, more efficient care for their clients with more personalized service. Here’s how.

  • They can provide more targeted, efficient home care services for a NORC community because they understand their needs and preferences.
  • They can allocate the right resources using the same individuals to provide consistent, reliable care resulting in efficiency and reduced cost.
  • They can rapidly deploy emergency care services for vulnerable citizens when required, such as vaccine administration.

NORCs are Community Led

NORCs are community led. Once a group of residents recognizes they live in a NORC, integrated healthcare and social serves are created by leaders within that community. Working together, they identify the type of services and programs the community would appreciate.

The University Health Network (UHN) in Ontario, under its NORC Innovation Centre, offers a NORC Ambassador Program to help those who want to formally organize a NORC. They work alongside motivated resident leaders to discover the aging in place support services required by:

  • Supporting ambassadors in forming their own group and seeing their ideas come to life,
  • Coaching to help build new skills in facilitation, communication, and community-building,
  • Supporting ambassadors to build connections to local health and social service agencies,
  • Providing funding to support the NORC’s goals.

The UHN NORC Innovation Centre has a mission to design the future of aging in place and create integrated health and social care options for older Canadians. Learn more about the UHN NORC Ambassador Program.

A NORC is not Suited for Everyone

Certain chronic medical conditions require the care and skilled resources available in a long-term care facility. Many older adults prefer to live exclusively with other older residents in a congregate setting and enjoy the broader services available under these type of retirement communities. Your budget, lifestyle preferences and severity of healthcare needs are all factors to consider.

Consider Aging In Place in your Own Community

There are many options for retirement living other than large congregate retirement homes. These facilities are preferred choices for some, but aging in place in your own community is fast becoming the preferred choice for many older adults. 

Find out if you live in a NORC and if so, consider becoming a NORC ambassador. Along with other motivated community leaders you could design the health and social care services older adults in your community would like to experience.

Discover community-based options for retirement living

Watch this TVO segment and learn more about NORCS and if you live in one.

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