The National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL) states that there are nearly 29,000 assisted living communities in the United States. Of those, nearly half (42 percent) are independently owned. The rise in number of assisted living communities likely will continue as the Baby Boomer population enters their retirement years and this will bring a new set of challenges to the senior care market. Is your community prepared for the changes to come?
The Appeal of Assisted Living Communities
An assisted living community often can appear to be the perfect solution for those needing more healthcare support than an independent living community can provide, but who are not quite ready (or wanting) the around-the-clock care provided by a skilled nursing community (formerly known as a nursing home).
Assisted living communities can vary widely by size and service offerings. They can range from small residential homes to large facilities that service hundreds of residents. The quality of care provided also can also vary greatly. Some assisted living communities may serve individuals with specific needs, such as those with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. The appeal to reside in an assisted living community or to run one is growing with each year. Residents can receive just the right amount of care and still retain some independence, while providers can maximize census and avoid the complexities of bringing multiple service lines in-house.
Bringing in Boutique Services
One way assisted living communities are setting themselves apart from full-service Life Plan Communities (formerly known as continuing care retirement communities) and long-term care communities is by providing healthcare services in-house. These services may be provided by employees or arranged with an outside service provider and can include therapy (physical, occupational or speech), hospice care, skilled nursing, mental health counseling and more. This allows the provider to bring in services that residents need the most and can cut down on staffing costs and dealing directly with complex payers.
Stand-Alone Assisted Living Communities and Payer Sources
One distinct difference between assisted living and other types of senior living, such as skilled nursing or long-term care, is that it is not covered by Medicare. This gives an incentive to those assisted living providers looking to maximize profit margins while avoiding the hassle of Medicare billing. This makes a strong revenue cycle easier to manage.
Staying Relevant Despite Market Saturation
When considering how to stay relevant in this market, you have to look ahead. As competition increases in the market, how will your assisted living community stand out and grow with the times? Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Identify any revenue cycle management challenges
- Discover collaborative strategies with other service providers such as hospice
- Generate necessary human and financial capacity for continuous improvements
- Respond quickly to changes in the market
- Adapt to technological innovations