New Franchise Helps Senior Living Providers Add Home Care, Creating Competition for Agencies

Congregate living providers and home care agencies are often at odds with each other, competing over clients and which care setting is best.

In recent years, the rising popularity of aging in place has often helped home care providers come out on top. But now, a new franchiser — the HomeCare Advocacy Network (HCAN) — is hoping to give senior living providers a leg up.

HCAN’s goal is to help senior living providers add home care services to make themselves more competitive with their home care rivals. If successful, that could mean less business for home care providers down the line and more clients for participating senior living providers.

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“If you’re not out there providing services to your future residents, someone else already is,” HCAN co-Founder and President Mark Goetz told Home Health Care News. “The real opportunity is for senior living providers to be more in control of their own destiny and to strengthen their own long-term viability.”

Before bringing HCAN to life earlier this year, Goetz worked as an executive at Frederick, Maryland-based Asbury Communities, one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit senior living organizations. Prior to that, he spent 13 years at Omaha, Nebraska-based Home Instead Senior Care, an in-home care franchise company with more than 1,100 locations worldwide.

HCAN was born out of that combination of experiences.

“We saw that there was an opportunity to … help communities leverage the success that we saw on the home care side of things,” Goetz said.

It’s not that senior living providers haven’t tried to add their own home care services in the past; it’s just that their efforts haven’t always been worthwhile.

“It’s hard to be successful in home care if you’re not really focused on it,” Bob Kramer, founder and strategic advisor at the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC), told HHCN. “It’s a different setting, and you really have to have expertise in doing home care. You can’t just add it as an ancillary line and assume because you’re experienced in senior care … that you’re automatically going to have success.”

Goetz agreed, noting that senior living providers often fail to specialize new home care lines appropriately.

He likened the mistake to a hospital adding a new labor and delivery wing, then staffing it with emergency room personnel. No hospital planner would do that, Goetz said, because the two disciplines are marked by a few important, specialized differences. As such, the wings should be separate but complementary.

The same is true for residential senior living and home care, Goetz said.

HCAN aims to help senior living providers get the specialty expertise and support they need to set up their own home care arms, separate from but complementary to their senior living offerings.

As a result, senior living providers will have a better shot of keeping clients, regardless of where they need their care, Goetz said.

“For years, in-home services businesses have been benefiting from partnerships with senior living, and I think that’s going to still continue,” he said. “But senior living being more empowered to serve and operate in the highly successful in-home services business … is going to just improve their overall long-term viability.”

In other words, senior living providers will be able to catch potential clients earlier in the care continuum, giving HCAN providers the option to eventually funnel those patients into congregate living settings later on or to continue caring for them in the home long-term — whichever is best for the client.

Such integrated, site-agnostic senior care is the way of the future, according to Kramer, who was unfamiliar with the HCAN model when he spoke with HHCN.

“An integrated approach … really looks at it from the point of view of the customer,” Kramer said. “What’s going to be best for them? Not for the business model, the payer, the environment or even the disease. … The integrated approach is one that I think is the way forward, but most companies, when they tried to do it themselves as a senior housing company, it hasn’t worked very well.”

How it works

Goetz described HCAN as a white-label franchise, meaning senior living providers that partner with the organization are able to retain their original name.

“White labeling is allowing the senior living provider’s name to be at the forefront — and for their brand to be the hero and our brand, the HomeCare Advocacy Network, to be secondary.”

For example, say “Mike’s Senior Living” decided to leverage HCAN’s home care help. It would become “Mike’s Senior Living, supported by the HomeCare Advocacy Network.”

From there, HCAN would provide Mike’s Senior Living with business training, brand development guidance and marketing instruction, all of which would come from leaders who know how to launch and run successful home care businesses.  

On top of that, HCAN will provide financial and human resources support, which includes an HR, recruiting and operational software for franchisers to use. 

“We’ve developed what we feel is a world-class caregiver training module that our franchise owners will have the opportunity to launch themselves, then built that with the understanding of the in-home services financial model,” Goetz said. “That’s often where some of the confusion comes [in] … between in-home services and senior living.”

In addition to that initial support, franchisees will also receive daily support to help them run their home care business, Goetz said.

“We guarantee that we’ll be on site three times the first year, two times the second and at least one time the third year to ensure the successful launch of their business,” he added.

HCAN has a royalty model, which means it succeeds only when franchisees do the same.

Growth goals

While HCAN has been in the works since August 2018, the HCAN pilot office in Omaha, Nebraska, just got up and running in April during the height of the coronavirus outbreak.

“We have two more deposits for franchises already in the Omaha metro area, so it’s growing faster than we expected,” Goetz said. “And we have a lot of meetings on the docket for people who are interested and want to get into this line of business.” 

While he couldn’t provide specific names or numbers, Goetz said the coronavirus has only helped drive up interest for HCAN. Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, home-based care has become the preferred setting for seniors, due in large part to the outbreaks that have occurred in congregate settings. 

“What COVID has done is allow us to have better conversations … with senior living executives and providers and for them to see the opportunity in a different light,” he said.

In the next 18 month, Goetz said HCAN’s goal is to be in 20 communities and have 30 locations. Within the next five years, the goal is to have 300 locations in the U.S. and three international partners.

“It’s very aggressive,” Goetz said. “But the market is really ripe with opportunity and really the time is now.”

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