Senior Living Provider Heritage Communities Dives into Home Health

Heritage Communities, a senior housing provider based in Omaha, Nebraska, is grappling with a difficult problem—long waiting lists for prospective residents at some of its Heritage brand communities. With rising demand, the senior living provider is getting its feet wet with home health care.

“In some of our communities, we have 10 or 15 people that are waiting to move in,” Farhan Khan, founder and CEO, told Home Health Care News.

In total, the company owns and operates 12 senior living communities, offering a range of independent living, assisted living, memory care and respite services throughout greater Omaha, Nebraska, as well as in Iowa and Arizona.

Khan is launching the company’s own brand of home health, which will roll out in the first quarter of 2018. Titled Heritage OnCare, the service line will offer Medicare-certified services under the home health umbrella, including assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. Khan believes these offerings will allow the company to reach their local clientele in a new way.

“We decided to start a home health service line because we realize not every person that needs assistance is ready to make the move to senior living,” Khan said. “Starting a home health company allows us to meet seniors where they’re at, and offer an individualized approach to care in their homes.”

The provider’s venture into home-based services is in keeping with other national, big-name providers—including Newton, Massachusetts-based Five Star Senior Living Inc. (Nasdaq: FVE) and Westport, Connecticut-based Maplewood Senior Living—that have explored ancillary service lines as an additional source of revenue.

Much like these companies, Heritage Communities plans to take a methodical approach in introducing the service line.

Six years in the making

Heritage identified home health as a possible service line six years ago, but instead focused on growing its senior living brand.

Now that the Heritage brand has been established, Khan plans to rely on the brand’s reputation to win future Heritage OnCare customers over.

“What we want to do is piggy-back off our proven success that we’ve had so far,” Khan said. “It isn’t always about offering a unique service line; it’s more about executing on the service lines that are already out there. I don’t think we’re out to revolutionize the way home health care is carried out right now, we’re just looking to do it well.”

Khan also hopes to leverage its connections within the local health care community in introducing its home health service line.

“We’ll be going to the referral sources that we’ve already built relationships with. We’ve also got a group of investors that invest in our company and a large group of physicians who are a part of our investor group, so we’re hoping that from the past relationships… we could see referrals coming from them,” he said.

In developing the care program behind Heritage OnCare, Khan has tapped into the expertise of Krista Upson, RN, a local veteran in the home health care industry.

Upson, who has more 10 years of experience in various clinical manager roles with organizations, such as Visiting Nurse Association of Midlands and Bellevue, Nebraska-based Hillcrest Home Care, will work alongside Heritage Communities Vice President Amy Birkel in developing the company’s home health service line.

Because the company’s senior living payer mix is mostly private pay residents, Khan explained that he will rely heavily on Upson’s expertise in managing the nuances associated with Medicare-certified services.

“At this moment, I don’t have any concerns. We’ve hired an administrative team who is experienced with all the regulations,” Khan said.

The company has plans to introduce hospice care services under the Heritage OnCare brand sometime early next year, and is also eyeing private duty home care as another avenue, according to Khan. But before diving into these other revenue streams, Khan is focused on laying a strong foundation for Heritage OnCare.

“Our one-year goal is to have it established within our Omaha communities. The first year we want to work out all the kinks [and] make sure we establish core values [and] that everything runs smoothly with this new launch. After that, we can look into establishing it in different markets,” Khan said.

Written by Carlo Calma

Carlo Calma
Business Reporter at Aging Media Network
Carlo enjoys running and taking indoor cycling and rowing classes. He tempers his active lifestyle by indulging in Chicago's diverse food scene.

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