Senior Living Sees Home Care As New Selling Point

A senior living provider in Virginia is strengthening the on-campus service offerings of one of its retirement communities with the creation of a proprietary home care agency that its residents can call upon to help them age in place.

National Lutheran Communities & Services (NLCS), a non-profit based in Rockville, Maryland, is banking on the multiple benefits of rolling out its myPotential at Home, a home care entity created by the organization.

A provider of continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs), NLCS went through the process of obtaining licensure from the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Department of Health to begin providing home care under its myPotential at Home company.

But while some senior living providers view the addition of home care services as an opportunity to begin working with potential residents early—before they are even considering moving into a long-term care community—NLCS is also seeing the addition as a chance to protect itself from entrance fee turnover.

The licensing enables the faith-based organization to enlist the services of myPotential at Home, the company’s first home care agency that it believes will not only shrink the community’s healthcare footprint, but will also protect the upfront payments paid by its residents.

“Keeping residents living in their units and not having the need to turnover entrance fees would facilitate keeping people independent longer,” said Larry Bradshaw, CEO of NLCS.

Residents of The Village at Orchard Ridge, a 132-acre CCRC located in Winchester, Virginia, will be the first to receive the services of myPotential at Home. The community is comprised of 152 apartments and 51 cottages reserved for independent living, 18 memory care units, and 10 long-term care suites.

Having opened in February 2013, The Village at Orchard Ridge is near 100% occupied with only two units that are currently vacant, according to Bradshaw.

Creating the home care program was as much a part of project design for NLCS as the physical development of the community.

“We built a small footprint for skilled nursing and assisted living and sold residents on having a robust home health component where we could keep people in units individually at home longer,” said Bradshaw. “It became a real selling point.”

myPotential at Home is part of a branding effort for NLCS, paying tribute to the non-profit organization’s short-term rehab program of the same name employed in a community in Rockville, Md.

The home care to be offered at Orchard Ridge will offer non-skilled, non-Medicare companionship services. These may include providing meals and assistance to residents who might need a “little help” with activities of daily living.

“The services are not necessarily skilled nursing services, but are meant for individuals who are independent, but just need a little bit more help,” Bradshaw said.

Because myPotential at Home and The Village at Orchard Ridge are two separate entities, costs relating to the home care services have nothing to do with the CCRC’s entrance fee. Instead, services offered to residents via myPotential at Home are offered “a la carte” where individuals pay on an hourly basis, Bradshaw said.

This also means that residents are free to enlist the services of any home care provider they choose, not only being limited to the offerings of myPotential at Home.

“Our business model is predicated on the availability of home care to our residents, but it does not have to be our home care a.k.a myPotential at Home,” said Courtney Malengo, director of communications for NLCS.

Adding on services is nothing new to NLCS. Since its inception, the organization has expanded from a small cottage for seniors in the Washington, D.C. area to a family of retirement communities throughout Maryland and Virginia.

Though The Village at Orchard Ridge will be the first NLCS community to utilize the offerings of myPotential at Home, the organization plans to make the services available to the broader Winchester and Staunton areas by late 2014.

“The expansion of our services should go beyond the bricks and sticks and walls of our community,” Bradshaw said.

Written by Jason Oliva

Jason Oliva