Largest Senior Living Associations Abandon Merger Talk

The senior living industry’s two main trade groups have decided that a proposed merger is “not in the cards” at this time—or maybe ever, according to an email sent by the co-chairs of a unifying initiative.

In February, Senior Housing News obtained meeting minutes discussing the possibility of a merger between the Assisted Living Federation of America and the American Seniors Housing Association, under the “One Voice” initiative.

The proposal was headed toward a vote at a May 9 meeting.


That vote was called off, and the merger is no longer on the table at this point and perhaps permanently, said an April 17 email sent by Brenda Bacon, president and CEO of Brandywine Senior Living and chair of ALFA’s board of directors, and John Rijos, chairman of Blueprint Healthcare Real Estate and former co-president and COO of Brookdale Senior Living.

“There is much consensus on what needs to be done…less on how to accomplish it,” said Bacon and Rijos in the email. “As a result, it is clear to us that a pursuit of the merger of the two associations is not in the cards at this time and maybe never. We shall see.”

A merger of the two senior living associations faced headwinds including concern about change, specificity of mission, culture, history, legacy, programs, leadership, governance, and budgets, the letter said. But the “countless hours” sacrificed by those in the One Voice initiative haven’t been wasted, Bacon and Rijos said.


“There has been remarkable dialogue and more progress made on identifying the issues and advancing the communications between ALFA and ASHA members than all previous efforts combined,” they said. “That, alone, has the opportunity to yield value as each association moves forward independently.”

At this point, ASHA’s executive board plans to embark on a strategic planning process regarding the future direction of the association and the development of new initiatives, David Schless, President of ASHA, told the group’s members in an April 18 email announcing the decision.

“The One Voice discussions yielded many positive ideas and interactions over the past 12 months; however, after much consideration, the ASHA Executive Committee concluded there were too many unanswered questions to move forward with the proposed merger at this time,” the email said.

ALFA’s Board of Directors is “actively reviewing the many substantive recommendations they developed about state engagement, standards, credentialing, accreditation, and a sustainable business model for the future,” Bacon told SHN in an email.

“We are grateful to all those who gave so much time and effort to the One Voice initiative,” she said. “We expect to move forward on some of these recommendations.”

Written by Alyssa Gerace