Benchmark Forms Urban-Focused Wellness Division, Adds New President

Benchmark, one of the largest senior living providers in the U.S. Northeast, is launching a Wellness Management division focused on new, urban communities. Denise McQuaide, who has served in executive roles within senior living and other health care companies over the last 30 years, has been hired to lead the division as president and COO.

Waltham, Massachusetts-based Benchmark operates a portfolio of 58 communities across Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and — thanks to a recently opened community — New York.

“[McQuaide’s] deep expertise in post-acute and long-term care as well as senior living will enable us to expand that area of our core business while introducing our award-winning services and hospitality to new urban communities,” Benchmark founder and CEO Tom Grape stated in a press release issued Thursday.

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The release did not specify which urban markets Benchmark will be targeting. Grape was not available to comment for this article.

Benchmark is interested in expanding outside the Northeast corridor, he told Senior Housing News last November.

McQuaide has previously served as president of Brickstone Senior Living and COO of Hebrew Senior Life. She was also senior vice president of operations for New England for skilled nursing facility (SFN) giant Genesis HealthCare (NYSE: GEN), overseeing 50 SNFs and five assisted living communities.

More recently, she was with vice president of post-acute care for Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In this position, she oversaw the creation of CareGroup Parmenter Home Care and Hospice, formed through the merger of Mount Auburn’s home care business with Parmenter Home and Hospice.

“Throughout my career I’ve worked with a number of Benchmark communities and have always had great respect for Tom and for the high level of care that Benchmark provides,” McQuaide said in Thursday’s release. “I am thrilled to be leading this new venture and eager to redefine the wellness experience within an urban setting for the upcoming generation of Benchmark residents and families.”

Growing trends

In forming its new division, Benchmark appears to be positioning itself in line with senior living trends: Wellness-focused operations and urban development are both on the upswing, for a variety of reasons.

An increasing number of senior living providers are shifting away from a mindset of caring for seniors’ needs to promoting their wellbeing. By supporting seniors’ wellness across multiple dimensions — such as physical, spiritual and intellectual wellness — providers hope to extend length of stay by helping their residents flourish until later in life.

In addition, health care systems and payers are turning more toward senior living providers as partners in efforts to keep their patient and beneficiary populations healthy and out of high-cost settings such as hospitals.

At the same time, there is growing consumer demand for urban senior living options.

Older adults are seeking out communities that are within walking distance of retail, health care providers and transportation hubs, and they desire options for intergenerational engagement. Meanwhile, their adult children do not want their parents living in isolated locations that are hard to visit regularly.

Developers and senior living providers are responding by building communities in urban centers and as part of mixed-use projects. In another recent example of a provider taking aim at urban markets, Louisville-based Atria Senior Living teamed up with real estate firm Related Cos. on a planned $3 billion development pipeline.

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