Seeking to increase length of stay and improve resident health and wellness, some senior living providers are testing a model of care that combines rehab with a personalized post-therapy fitness program.
These providers are working with a company created in 2015, that is a joint venture between Genesis Rehab Services and Power Wellness. Genesis Rehab is familiar to senior living professionals as one of the largest contract therapy providers in the United States, as part of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania-based skilled nursing giant Genesis HealthCare (NYSE: GEN). The JV, called PowerCare, brings Power Wellness into the senior living arena for the first time.
Started in 1996, Power Wellness grew by working closely with hospitals and universities, building specially designed and operated wellness centers on or near medical campuses. Now, through PowerCare, the company is developing these types of settings and programs in senior living communities.
The basic concept of the 50/50 joint venture is that a senior would receive therapy provided by Genesis Rehab and then transition into an ongoing Power Wellness-style fitness regimen to build on or maintain the gains made in rehab. As a result, adverse events like falls would be reduced, hospitalizations would decrease, and resident wellbeing and satisfaction would increase—as would length of stay, as a senior’s progression through the continuum of care would occur more slowly.
Bloomfield, New Jersey-based Juniper Communities is among the providers working with PowerCare.
“Our goal is to create a fitness program that goes beyond restoring function and beyond lifestyle and enrichment, to maintain health and wellness,” Juniper CEO Lynne Katzmann told Senior Housing News.
Hospitality meets health care
To understand PowerCare, it’s helpful to grasp what Power Wellness has already been providing for hospitals, physician groups, and other health care partners.
Like many senior living communities, Power Wellness centers blend health care with hospitality, Ralph Davis, the company’s vice president of business development, told SHN.
There are about 30 Power Wellness centers around the country, usually built on or close to a medical campus. The typical size is 45,000 square feet, although they can be as large as 200,000 square feet. The centers in many ways resemble a commercial gym, with a reception area, grab-and-go food counters, locker rooms, workout areas, and usually several aquatic fitness options, such as a lap pool, heated therapy pool, and standard exercise pool.
Also like commercial gyms, members typically pay a monthly fee out of pocket, which averages about $60-$65, Davis said.
These centers are different than commercial gyms in several ways, though, including that some of them double as medical office buildings, complete with on-site doctors offices or even surgical centers. Then there’s the staffing piece. Rather than personal trainers, the centers hire exercise physiologists and other trained, credentialed health professionals. Staff meet with new members to create personalized wellness plans, and then provide ongoing guidance and support to help achieve goals.
And the clientele is different than you would find at the neighborhood L.A. Fitness.
“It’s an underserved population, people who normally would not join a health club,” Power Wellness President and COO Brian Hummert told SHN.
These people are commonly referred by their doctor, therapist or other health care provider, and in some cases insurance pays for their membership.
“We offer a lot of programs that are tied to services provided by our health care partners,” Hummert said. “We have step-down or next steps programs to take them from PT, cardiac programs, diabetes programs, to a wellness fitness program.”
Hospitals, health systems and managed care payors are interested in the potential of these programs to improve outcomes and lower costs. Data shows that Power Wellness lowers the risk profile of participants, looking at metrics like reductions in falls and indicators such as blood pressure, Hummert said.
“The hospital has better outcomes and reduces readmissions, you get a healthier population, and … as health care and insurance transitions to [managed care], population health becomes critical,” he said. “It’s a win-win-win.”
Adding value to senior living
Now, by working with PowerCare, senior living providers can transition residents from receiving Genesis rehab into this type of wellness/fitness program developed by Power Wellness.
PowerCare is focused most intently on growing in states with a high concentration of senior living communities, such as Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania, one of Juniper’s recently acquired life plan communities, in Bucks County, is being renovated to include a wellness center for the PowerCare program.
“We’re taking a whole floor and turning it into what looks like a gym, or a fancy fitness center,” Juniper’s Katzmann said. “[PowerCare] has helped us develop a floor plan so we can create a program that goes beyond traditional rehab and fitness. You’ll be greeted as you would be at a spa, and we’ll have several different fitness rooms, cardio, yoga studio, educational center, a pool, all geared toward seniors.”
Being able to create a space like this from scratch, to re-create a Power Wellness center on a slightly smaller scale, is ideal, PowerCare Vice President Victor Arellano told SHN. However, existing senior living gyms or fitness spaces can be adapted in some cases.
Juniper has been a strong proponent of how senior living providers can be bigger players in the health care system—and potentially start to be reimbursed by Medicare Advantage or other insurance plans—by showing how they reduce health care costs and improve outcomes for the growing older adult population. The PowerCare model fits into that mission, Katzmann said. She is hopeful that Juniper will be able to track how PowerCare participation affects hospital readmissions and other metrics.
Plus, PowerCare could eventually help generate move-ins for Juniper, as the plan is to open up membership in the PowerCare center to non-residents, bringing them on campus. Plans are in the works to offer PowerCare at second Juniper life plan community in Pennsylvania as well.
The biggest challenge for PowerCare’s growth lies in making the case for integrating medical fitness into the senior living model, Arellano said. He believes this will become easier as the JV proves itself in its first partnerships in the sector.
“It’s demonstrating our ability to be effective extenders of care for residents, not just those who are healthy and active, but those with a variety of health conditions,” he said. “We have to produce good outcomes and demonstrate our compassion and care.”
Written by Tim Mullaney