At 10am I met with (basketball fan buddy) Harriet outside Webster House, an ILF on the symmetrically opposite side of downtown Palo Alto from Channing House, which I toured on Day 50. Just in the door we were met by Harriet’s friend Joan, who recently moved in to Webster House. She showed us all the public spaces and her own very charming 1BR unit on the fifth, topmost, floor. Afterward we sat down in a meeting room with Kirt Pruyn, the marketing manager, to learn more; then he showed us two more 1BR units. Here I will summarize what I learned.
Webster House ILF
Webster House is fairly small as ILFs go, with 37 units and about 45 people in residence. It is a fairly modern building, put up in the 1980s as luxury condos, then later converted to a senior residence. The top floor has a small glassed-in penthouse for functions and a roof deck with a view over Palo Alto (Channing House’s top floor is similar but larger). Joan said she enjoyed exercise classes held here.
The facility owner is Covia, a non-profit that started as Episcopal Residences, set up by the Episcopalian church, or some part of it. I’m not clear as to whether it was an effort of the entire church, or perhaps only the California wing of it; because Covia now owns six properties, all located in the Bay Area. Governance is by a board, which has some kind of representation from the residents of each of the six facilities (Kirt wasn’t sure about the details, but almost certainly non-voting, as with Channing House). There is also a Webster House residents’ organization that meets quarterly and has input to the staff, as well as a food committee that interacts with the food service.
Speaking of food service, it is dinner-only. The dining room is rather small, with perhaps 10 small tables; so one would be sharing a table with others. That’s not to my taste. Joan mentioned that one reason she moved to an ILF was that she “was tired of eating dinner alone.” Fair enough, but I have no problem with eating dinner alone. I’ve been doing it for many of these 64 days, and in fact I think I prefer it. Well, be that as it may.
Weekends, dinner is served as a buffet; weekdays it is full-service, restaurant style. (Recall Channing House offers all three meals, but all are served buffet-style, in a large dining room.) Breakfast and lunch are up to each resident, either to prepare in one’s own small kitchen, or by going out. Or one can order ala-carte from the house kitchen for a fee.
Next door to the ILF building is a “health center” containing a skilled nursing facility (SNF) as well as long-term and memory-impaired care. I was assured that one can go into the SNF, e.g. after an operation, and return to one’s ILF unit. One’s monthly fee does not change in this event; however the SNF has its own separate fees. Kirt made the interesting point that typically skilled nursing fees after an operation are picked up by Medicare, in which case, time in the SNF is effectively no-charge to the resident; but he cautioned that Medicare only does so provided you are admitted to hospital for at least 72 hours. Spend less time, or don’t be admitted, and Medicare won’t help with SN fees.
Webster House’s approach to Assisted Living is “assist in place”, that is, for those who need help with meds, bathing, dressing, etc, they will arrange a caregiver to assist you to live in your unit. Such care is provided at $40/hour, I see by the rate sheet I was given. (I think such charges are at least partly covered by Medicare. By the time Marian needed such aid she was in hospice and it was included in that service, so the issue never arose for us.)
There is parking in an underground garage; it costs an additional $45/month. Every unit has its own washer/dryer (at Channing House, there is a shared laundry room on each floor). There is a small “fitness room” which I didn’t see.
For all this, the monthly cost is $5300 for a 1BR unit. But there is a buy-in fee, for which they give two options.
Option 1, you pay $500K-$700K up front (it is not clear to me why the wide range; perhaps it depends on the unit, as some are larger or have better views?). If you leave within 50 months, you get your entry fee back, prorated at 2% per month. Stay only two years and you get half back.
Option 2, you pay a higher entry of $800K-$1300K (again, don’t know the basis of the range), but now you are assured that 75% of that money will come back to you, on moving, or to your estate on your death.
One final important item. I asked Kirt about how people handle the financial gap, from when they decide to move in and need to pay circa $1M, and the time their house sells. I pointed out that I’d have to sell a bunch of assets on which I’d pay capital gains tax, just to front the money that would shortly be recovered from sale of the house. He had an answer: they will let you sign a promissory note for the entry fee. It’s a no-interest loan for 90 days, which normally covers the gap to a home sale. That’s nifty; I will ask about this when I talk to the Channing House marketing rep, which I mean to do shortly.
Joan’s apartment was very nicely furnished and decorated with things she’d brought from her former home. Which brought to my mind the issue of
which I hadn’t given much thought to, but now suddenly looms as a major issue. All ILF units come unfurnished. You need to move in with furniture from your former home, or new furniture, in some combination. That opens a whole new set of decisions: which of my current furnishings do I want to carry forward to a new, 1BR home? O.M.G. the decisions! Which pieces are suitable? Which are useful? How hard would it be to buy new, and where, and the shopping!
The only thought I’d given to any of this was that I want a new bed, a single or at any rate not the big old king-sized mattress that I now sleep on the right one-half of. I’d keep my comfy Ekornes recliner. The desk (“Marian’s desk” that she bought in Hawaii in the 60s, I think). At least one of the dressers in the bedroom.
But what about the green leather living room set I’ve been putting leather conditioner on. Do I really want to keep it? I had sort of lumped it and many other items into the ISMISEP/giant-garage-sale category. But if I don’t keep it, what do I do? Probably go to IKEA and buy something tasteless? Oh, wurra wurra.
Anyway, off to cheer Stanford WBB on against Cal.