Senior Helpers’ CEO Outlines Plans for New Town Square Franchising Model

In-home senior care services franchisor Senior Helpers has teamed up with the George G. Glenner Alzheimer’s Family Center to launch a new nationwide franchising concept for Town Square, a reminiscence therapy adult day care center built to look and feel like the 1950s.

The new franchising model—Senior Helpers Town Square Franchising—is officially an affiliate of Senior Helpers, the Baltimore-based home care company announced Thursday. The Chula Vista, California-based Geore G. Glenner Alzheimer’s Family Center, which created the original Town Square prototype, will share operational expertise, along with other resources.

The new franchising strategy is an expansion of Senior Helpers’ relationship with Town Square. The home care franchisor had already partnered with the center to staff its flagship Town Square with its caregivers.

Bringing Town Square into communities throughout the United States through Senior Helpers Town Square Franchising agreements will help provide much-needed reminiscence therapy and adult day care services to the millions of Americans suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, Senior Helpers CEO Peter Ross told Home Health Care News.

It will also be a major business boon for Senior Helpers franchisees, he said.

“I love the concept,” Ross said. “This is my fourth franchise brand, I think this has got as much a chance as any of the ones before, including Senior Helpers, of being a homerun.”

Founded in 2001, Senior Helpers is an in-home provider of personal care services, also offering specialized care for individuals with dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other diseases. Senior Helpers started franchising in 2005 and currently has more than 300 locations in its network.

New York City-based Altaris Capital Partners acquired Senior Helpers in2016.

The not-for-profit George G. Glenner Alzheimer’s Family Center, founded by University of California San Diego School of Medicine physician George Glenner and his wife, works to provide adult day care and support services to families affected by Alzheimer’s and other forms of memory impairment disease.

“Reminiscence therapy is one of the things—not just for Alzheimer’s and dementia care [individuals], but all seniors, including those dealing with palliative care issues—that’s a huge opportunity,” Ross said. “I think [Town Square] is going to be an industry changer.”

Senior Helpers Town Square Franchising

Each Town Square location is comprised of an indoor, simulated urban environment with more than a dozen distinct “vignettes,” or stations made to operate as 1950s-style diners, movie theaters, libraries, hair salons and storefronts.

The immersive, interactive environment is carefully crafted to transport seniors to the past, helping to preserve cognitive function and memories linked to that part of their life.

At its core, the model is somewhat of a U.S. version of the dementia villages pioneered in the Netherlands.

The very first Town Square location, just south of San Diego, will open its doors later this month.

The cost of utilizing Town Square is $95 a day, an expense that includes specialized care from Senior Helpers staff, who are contracted to serve as program aides.

“It’s like you’re going back and immersing yourself in a town that’s very familiar to you,” Ross said. “When family members go on tours, they’re laughing and crying, seeing something they would love to be involved in.”

Senior Helpers Town Square Franchising may be an attractive investment opportunity for entrepreneurs looking to enter the booming home care and memory care industries, but it’s one that comes with a lofty price tag.

Investment to start a Town Square location will likely be between $1 million and $1.5 million, depending on location, according to Ross.

Investors interested in opening up a Town Square can either do so through a hands-on ownership model or an absentee ownership model.

Allowing for absentee ownership is a means of casting a wider net for investors with the necessary financial firepower, Ross said.

“When you have this kind of investment, you have a different type of franchisor,” he said. “It’s basically 10% of the investment that Senior Helpers is, so that usually brings in a different kind of franchisee. … It’s a model that we believe, over time, will net a very good return for these investors, these absentee owners.”

Senior Helpers Town Square Franchising will work with local real estates partners to identify Town Square sites. Investors will pick a final location, and then a preferred contractor will build it out. A local Senior Helpers home care franchise will then staff the Town Square with 10 to 15 aides once opened.

Senior Helpers franchisees will operate new Town Square locations under absentee ownership structures.

“In those instances, Senior Helpers franchisees will run the entire center for them,” Ross said. “It really gives us an opportunity for us to use the best of what we do, yet the best of what the [George G. Glenner Alzheimer’s Faimly Center] has created.”

Town Square franchisees will be required to hold two annual fundraising events with proceeds benefiting the the center.

Expansion plans

More than 200 investors have already reaching out to Senior Helpers Town Square Franchising about opening up locations—despite the fact the very first Town Square hasn’t even opened yet.

The Senior Helpers affiliate franchisor is targeting 100 U.S. Town Square locations within the next three years.

“It’s a huge win for Senior Helpers,” Ross said. “You can imagine 100 Town Squares, or 100 staffing contracts with Senior Helpers franchisees round the country, so that’s significant revenue to Senior Helpers and a way to provide resources to franchisees of Town Square.”

Senior Helpers Town Square has plans to open up a location in Baltimore next, he said.

“We have several folks right now ready to buy a franchise,” Ross said. “We wanted one in Baltimore, though, because that’s where [Senior Helpers’] corporate headquarters is, and we wanted something close by to us.”

To best capitalize on synergies, tentative plans eventually call for Town Square franchises to open in the 41 states where Senior Helpers operates.

Senior Helpers Town Square Franchising has filed franchise registration paperwork in 11 of the 14 states that require state approval.

“I don’t think there’s any market that [Town Square] won’t work in,” Ross said. “It’s just a matter of having enough population nearby, enough seniors nearby to make it work.”

Written by Robert Holly

Photo Credit:

  • Glenner Town Square 1: Senior Helpers
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Robert Holly
When Robert's not covering the latest in home health care news, you can likely find him rooting for the White Sox or roaming his neighborhood streets playing Pokemon Go. Before joining HHCN, Robert covered everything from big agribusiness to the hottest tech startups. 

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