Assisted living is changing, and fast, writes Forbes columnist Howard Gleckman in an article published this week. Residents are changing, their needs are changing, and the services they require may not longer fit the hybrid model they have assumed somewhere between independent living and nursing home care.
Detailing the higher acuity needs of today’s assisted living residents, Gleckman writes, “ALFs are, in many ways, the new nursing homes.”
Will they go the way of cable TV—still around but with a limited future?
Either way, they are going to look a lot different, writes Gleckman, who is a resident fellow at the Urban Institute and is affiliated with the Tax Policy Center and the Program on Retirement Policy.
“As nursing homes abandon the long-stay business for more lucrative post-acute and rehabilitation patients, Baby Boomers will need an alternative,” he writes. “But not today’s ALFs. What will assisted living look like in 2020?”
The answer presented by Forbes is four-pronged: fewer operators, better integration with medical providers, person-centered care, and “fewer heads in beds.”
“The old business model was based on filling rooms,” Forbes writes. “The new one may focus on virtual assisted living that delivers services to people living in the community rather than in its buildings. For instance, it could mean contracting with apartment complexes to provide services such as medication and case management, as well as home health. Or building relationships with local faith-based organizations or senior villages to provide community-based care. Call it home care-plus.”
Small not-for-profits may disappear, making way for larger operators and more acquisitions; care will be customized; and health systems will be key in orchestrating care for the aging population, Gleckman suggests.
“As with health care, senior services face an environment of enormous disruption. Some providers will embrace it,” he writes. “Others will be destroyed. For consumers, it might mean more choices and a better quality of life.”
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Written by Elizabeth Ecker