Read about Karen’s experience with contract management services as executive director of a senior residential and healthcare community.

Pilgrim Manor operates 55 skilled nursing beds and 110 assisted living beds on a 10–acre campus near downtown Grand Rapids.

In 2008, while serving as executive director of Pilgrim Manor, we developed a strategic plan with a reputable senior housing organization. The experience was not favorable, and the contract was discontinued. Pilgrim Manor was too small to be sustainable on our own, however, so we knew we needed to reconsider a partnership. It took a few more years to convince the board of directors and executive leadership before we opened a dialogue with UCHM. They presented us with three options for consideration.

The first option was a one-year strategic consultation agreement to address board and operational support, as well as finance, HR and advancement. The second option presented a well-rounded management services agreement, with supports across the organization to make us more efficient and effective, including accounting, revenue cycle, payroll, purchasing, quality assurance, HR, sales/marketing, IT and clinical informatics. The third option was an affiliation/integration agreement.

As the board and I weighed the options, we determined maintaining our autonomy in the marketplace was imperative to the continued success of Pilgrim Manor. This led Pilgrim Manor to the decision to integrate with United Church Homes, the parent company of UCHM. We opted to move ahead with the integration agreement, with the caveat that Pilgrim Manor would retain its name, culture and autonomy. It was this flexibility to design a plan that truly made sense for our organization that sealed the deal.

Through our relationship with UCHM and the subsequent integration with UCH, we were able to increase capacity and efficiency, elevate our standard of care and maintain regulatory compliance to ensure our sustainability in a tough market. This is a ministry, a mission and a culture with which we are extremely comfortable. It would have been difficult to join with anyone else.

By November 2016, the organizations were fully integrated. Today, Pilgrim Manor operates under its own name, brand and people as a fully owned subsidiary of United Church Homes. By building the relationship and accessing the support of UCHM, Pilgrim Manor’s successful integration provides direct support to all aspects of Pilgrim Manor’s business enterprise, including accounting, marketing, human resources and information technology services. Pilgrim Manor’s advancement and fund-raising initiatives are conducted through its local foundation.

The entire experience was so positive that when I was asked to serve as executive director of UCHM, I was excited to share my experience with other skilled nursing and senior living communities.