The impact of Covid-19 has dramatically highlighted the need for senior care providers to diversify their services and meet the requirements of the modern-day senior.
Working within the senior living space, I’ve noticed providers embracing change to meet the needs of the middle market, work closer in partnership with healthcare services and branch out into new areas of care. All of which has had a major impact on the care received by the senior living community.
Meeting the Needs of the Middle Market
A big industry question has been how we create a more affordable service for those in the middle market of consumers. A group composed of those entering retirement who have too much combined income and assets to qualify for a public housing subsidy, but not enough to buy into traditional life plan communities. By tweaking some of its service offerings, such as dining, transportation & staffing, Merrill Gardens has launched its ‘Truewood by Merrill’ brand which targets monthly rates around $3000-$3500.
The next generation of seniors, known as the ‘Baby Boomers’ are beginning to look at their senior care options. However, it has been realised that their needs are much different. This has led to the rise of a new product type called Active Adult. Targeting healthy, active consumers at 55+, Active Adult typically includes full services for maintenance-free living: a meal plan, laundry, housekeeping, transportation, and a variety of organised activities.
Linking Healthcare and Senior Care
A key area of focus has been in marrying the link between hospitality & healthcare, providing primary care with speciality medical servicesThis allows residents to receive higher levels of care in the community.
Senior living providers are embracing changes to this new model, utilising new technology by bringing clinical services in-house and generating data that will allow care staff to tailor treatment plans to best serve the resident’s needs.
Phoenix Senior Living
Phoenix Senior Living is looking at hospital overflow patients and how to work with hospitals closer to provide a higher level of care. The company is currently testing an approach on short term patients who otherwise might be hospitalised but can be appropriately served within the senior living setting with a complement of home health, hospice, or other services.
Phoenix has recently undergone massive growth after they acquired 23 new communities from Diversified Healthcare Trust. This expansion made the Georgia-based company one of the largest senior living providers in the Southeast.
The growth has also allowed the company to expand into new senior living ‘villages’ called ‘The Hammocks’. The first Hammock project is taking place in the north-western South Carolina town of Seneca. The design incorporates a more decentralised model than typical in senior living, with cottages, a clubhouse for amenities, and a light care component. The goal is to place all the amenities that might otherwise be spread out across 25,000 to 50,000 square feet in the more compact ‘clubhouse’.
When asked about the benefits of the Hammocks, CEO Jesse Marinko said: “Especially with Covid, some people like to have their own back porch, some people like to have their own garage, and then they want to choose when they interact within an environment”.
Phoenix is confident that partnership opportunities with hospitals and other care facilities are more possible than ever. Jesse continued to say “Prior to covid there were barriers to partnership. Including more gatekeepers to go through to interface with health system leaders, now the conversations are very real although hospitals are currently still focused on the pandemic.” This is a very exciting prospect for the merging of senior care and health care facilities.
This is not the only exciting news coming out of the senior living world. Recently, JEA Senior was acquired by investment firm Access Industries and rebranded as Sinceri senior living. The new ‘Sinceri’ brand name is meant to evoke the ‘sincere and familial culture” of its communities. Historically Sinceri has been focused on providing memory care, with around 1,900 units, the company ranked the ninth-largest memory care provider on the 2021 industry association Argentum. But going forward, the rebranded company intends to expand in the independent living and assisted living sector.
Chris Belford, the CEO, recently commented on the company’s vision in a September press release: “Since the company was founded, there have been countless changes in our industry and around the world. With the evolution of senior living and a new generation ageing into its services, we carefully evaluated the opportunity of a rebrand to better fit how our company, too, has grown and evolved”.
Having previously managed a 140-community portfolio for American health investors Belford has the resume to lead the large-scale senior living operation. Illustrating the company’s resident first approach Chris quoted “We’re not only looking for product lines that were interested in. We’re also looking at it strategically where it makes sense for our current footprint to grown. We are also interested in exploring ancillary services such as home health care".
Within the next decade, experts estimate that the baby boomer generation will bring a 75% increase in people over the age of 65 needing senior care, to nearly 2.3 million people. Covid has only accelerated the need for an improved senior living system with a care continuum that reaches across seniors continuously evolving needs.
It’s been great to see so many companies step up to the challenge and embrace changes to meet the requirements of the modern-day senior. I expect more and more providers to follow suite in the future.
What do you think the future of senior living looks like? I’d love to know what you think, please email me at, Nathan.firstname.lastname@example.org