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Strategies for Senior Housing Operators Moving into Community Services

by Louis on February 4, 2013

It is now common thinking that services in individual homes is a growth area for senior housing and care. Many senior housing operators are looking for the right strategy to expand their in home service offerings. There are many strategies. No one strategy is best. The benefits of different approaches depend  on the operators’ particular capabilities.  In November I presented on this topic to the Institute for Senior Living, a California based think tank of not for profit senior housing executives. Some of what I learned preparing those talks shows up in this blog and a few that will follow.

One of the first and hardest things senior housing executives must do as they prepare to expand in the community services arena is open their minds and drop their existing notion of their key strengths.  This does not undervalue their success. It gives them a good chance to plan without prejudice.

I am pretty sure most housing providers see comprehensive aging support as key. “When you come to our facility you (and your family) can stop worrying. We handle it all.”  Differences in community living call the importance and value – the relevance –  of this key into question. One reason is that the senior housing facility, campus or building is a controlled environment. Another reason is that while you are a resident inside that environment, for the most part, your personal resources availability is equalized to become a non-issue. A third reason is that your residents are a captive audience. The services you provide are a pre-paid monopoly.

Contrast these points in the community:

1. Each home is different. That is inside, outside and location. House design and conditions, access from parking and the distance and difficulty from the service provider are different for each client.

2. Eligibility. Community services are meant to be a dynamic match to constantly changing needs.  Each client’s resources- whether qualification for public funding, health or long term care insurance coverage or private moneys is different and subject to change. The constant change is not different in facilities but the payer system and allocation of resources is. Homecare is more like ‘just in time’ manufacturing. Facilities are more like ‘on site inventory’.

Other topics in this series:

  1. Who is the client? How do they differ from your current clients?
  2. What key resources do you bring? What are your strengths? Weaknesses?
  3. Who will your competitors be? What are their problems? How will your situation be better?
  4. What out of the box approaches should you consider?

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Shenandoah Kepler February 5, 2013 at 4:38 pm

Some ideas for requested community services: You are quite correct that those I have informally asked DON’T WANT comprehensive care. They want to feel independent and be independent for as long as possible. There are some things that my friends and neighbors are interested in:
A. Moderately well-to-do:
i. Vetted service providers list for home improvements, aging in place and universal design renovations.
ii. Home organizers to help reduce clutter and recycle / donate / throw away lifetime accumulation of STUFF
iii. On-call drivers to help with shopping, doctor’s visits, restaurant visits, etc.
B. Less well-to-do:
i. Help with who to call to get access to public transportation
ii. Help with who to call to get meals-on-wheels and public assistance food
iii. Help with obtaining medigap coverage and access to doctors and other health professionals that will accept such coverage
iv. Help with adult day care facilities that provide scholarships or other means support
v. References to free day-time activities for seniors and the means to access them (get to them)
C. Anyone
i. Downloadable phone app to remind phone user to take medications, schedule doctor’s appointments
ii. Downloadable phone app to take patient’s blood pressure or other health measurement
iii. Downloadable phone app to call for help with one default button (help, I can’t get up stuff)
iv. Contacts for single persons living alone when they need help to transition from, say, a hospital stay to home care, and they don’t want to go to a rehabilitation center and they need this information at the hospital

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Rusty Toler February 15, 2013 at 4:47 pm

Excellent series- very good list above.

A noticeable development in Howard County (Maryland) recently seems to be a number of new “luxury” rental developments being marketed to seniors. These may or may not be “age qualified or restricted.” Thoughts or references on the implications of this in terms of services, advantages, disadvantages appreciated. I’m sure Louis is versed in this also

I am not a service provider!

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