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Could This Be the Hidden Senior Living Poison Pill?

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By Steve Moran

If you are a regular reader, you may remember that my mother is currently living in a not luxury but very nice 6-bed senior living community in the Sacramento area. It is not inexpensive and we did not move her to this community to save money, but rather to give her the right level of care. It is expensive enough that it likely costs more than we would have paid at an enterprise level senior living community.  

What She Gave Up

By going this route she gave up at least the following things:

  • A full time activities director managing a varied multi-event life enrichment program

  • The daily availability of licensed nursing staff

  • Facility owned, operated or controlled transportation

  • Fancy grounds and luxurious common spaces (though, in fairness, on a per resident basis, her community may have more)

  • Chef-created and prepared meals with a large and varied menu

What She Gets

So far maybe it sounds like giving up a lot. It turns out those things don’t do much to improve the quality of her life. She is mostly bedfast and what she needs more than anything else is an attentive caring staff. During most of the day there are at least two team members on duty, which means they are in and out of her room maybe a dozen or two dozen times a day. They get her whatever she wants, they are in and out to just check on how she is doing.

She gets all of this in a place that is just the ultimate “just like home” community because that is exactly what it is.  

Why I Go Hmm . . .

As a family member and part of the senior living ecosystem there are two things that have huge appeal to me. The first is that it really is like home. The second is that given mom’s needs (more those of a nursing home resident than a typical assisted living resident), the equivalent level of care would add somewhere between $10,000 and $20,000 to her monthly cost and that would be extremely painful, if not impossible, for the family.

A Hybrid

I find myself wondering if it is possible to create a hybrid model within a more traditional senior living community that would cost more but would be all-inclusive and have the same kind of high-touch care that a small six-bed community provides, backed up by all the resources of an enterprise-scale community.

Will This Challenge the Industry?

I find myself wondering if this model of assisted living will become a serious threat or challenge to enterprise level senior living. A first look says no. It would take 15 communities to equal the unit count for a single medium-sized senior living community.

On the other hand, these micro assisted living communities can provide a pretty comfortable living for a family that is looking to live and work at home.

Your Thoughts?

In a few days, we will publish a story about Mustang Estates, a Texas-based company that has taken on an enterprise version of this concept.

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