Jericho, New York-based AMR Care Group has become one of the fastest-growing home care companies around.
It’s done so, according to founder and CEO Anne Markowitz Recht, by doubling down on its core care management offerings while regularly adding new services and supports, including a “Cultured Companions” program that connects aging artists, musicians, professors and other socialites to younger counterparts active in their respective scenes.
“I don’t think there’s been a magic bullet to our growth,” Markowitz Recht told Home Health Care News. “There’s obviously a huge need for home care services, which everybody knows about. Beyond that, it’s just doing the right thing, expanding our business and giving clients what they want.”
Since launching AMR Care Group out of her own home in October 2003, Markowitz Recht has overseen the company’s expansion across Long Island, New York City and, most recently, into Westchester County.
While it’s still relatively small compared to some of the home industry’s biggest players, AMR Care Group has grown at a 97% clip over the past three years. In 2018, the company’s revenue checked in at about $2.2 million.
“We’re always looking to continue to grow, but things are leveling out a little bit in 2019,” Markowitz Recht said. “We’re seeing growth again this year, but not at quite the same pace. Right now, our biggest competitors are people who think they can do what we do themselves, as opposed to reaching out to the professionals.”
Currently, AMR Care Group has about 100 full-time and part-time employees. Together, they serve around 130 clients — both older adults and individuals with disabilities — at any given time.
The AMR Model
Broadly, AMR Care Group aims to provide comprehensive care services that address a variety of needs and allow older adults age in place.
Its care managers — all licensed master social workers (LMSWs), like Markowitz Recht — act as aging experts who help clients manage their health, social, financial and legal needs. They do so either through a one-time assessment or with ongoing care.
“I look at it as we’re in the risk business,” Markowitz Recht said. “It’s our job to reduce the risk of anything happening. As we age, of course, those risks increase.”
In addition to care management, AMR Care Group also has dedicated senior care advocates who work with clients and their medical teams to ensure smooth transitions from institutional settings back home. The company also does new-home placements and assists with New York Medicaid applications.
Although AMR Care Group started out predominantly in the care management space, it added non-medical home care companionship services in 2010 due to market demands, Markowitz Recht said.
Most of AMR Care Group’s offerings are on a private-pay basis, though its companionship services are often covered by long-term care insurance. The company also has a contract in place with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to help cover costs for certain clients.
AMR Care Group launched its Cultured Companions program in 2016.
It similarly rolled out concierge on-call service called “Just Checking” about a year ago, which includes in-person visits for enrolled clients, monthly check-in calls, 24/7 emergency support and LMSW oversight. The number of in-person visits and check-in calls varies depending on enrollment plan.
‘We don’t make widgets’
The Cultured Companions program has been a main driver of AMR Care Group’s growth, Markowitz Recht said. To some extent, cultured companions are similar to any other home care companions — but with specialized knowledge and humanities experience.
“They’re artists, actors and musicians working in their fields who take our clients out to shows, museums and concerts,” she said. “They talk the talk and walk the walk, keeping people connected to culture, which sometimes just stops as we age.”
Among the outings AMR Care Group has arranged through the program: taking clients to see “La Bohème” at the Met, Amy O’Neill’s latest collection at the Museum of Modern Art and even “Hamilton” on Broadway.
That level of engagement has been especially beneficial for AMR Care Group’s clients living with dementia, Markowitz Recht said.
“Who cares where you’re at physically — and even some people with dementia,” she said. “You bring them to a Broadway show, they really come to life.”
Connecting older adults with vibrant youngsters through activities isn’t particularly common when it comes to home-based care, though some companies, including Papa, have certainly built their businesses around the concept.
“Intergenerational living,” however, is much more of a trend in the senior living space. Examples include master-planned communities with age-based neighborhoods or mixed-use apartment complexes that house preschools or innovative programming.
In March, Belmont Village CEO Patricia Will told HHCN sister site Senior Housing News that it wouldn’t be surprising if student housing and senior living communities are often co-located moving forward.
“Invariably, we’ve found that to the maximum extent possible, seniors want to be where the action is,” Will said.
Beyond being a home-based care version of intergenerational living, Cultured Companions is also a reflection of what home care providers need to become in order to remain relevant in today’s highly fragmented and ultra-competitive home care industry. In fact, many experts say that it’s niche offerings like AMR Care Group’s program that will separate home care winners and losers in years to come.
Apart from Cultured Companions, Markowitz Recht also attributes some of AMR Care Group’s recent growth to the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program, which the CEO completed in the summer of 2016. Generally, the goal of the program is to help entrepreneurs create jobs and economic opportunity by providing access to education, capital and business support services.
To date, more than 8,600 business owners have graduated from the program across all 50 states plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.
“We don’t make widgets; we’re service-oriented, so if the customer doesn’t feel they’re getting the value, attention and worth they deserve, we’re not going to have a business,” Markowitz Recht said. “As Warren Buffett said during our graduation, we want to delight the customer — not just satisfy them.”