Health System Collaboration In the Works as Solera Senior Living Expands

Solera Senior Living is embarking on a growth pipeline that includes several new developments and a potential collaboration with a national health care system.

Currently, the Denver-based senior living company has two properties open, in Florida and Arizona, with another slated to open in Denver in  January 2020. Solera also has five developments on the books in various stages of construction in Denver; Evanston, Illinois; near Washington, D.C; near Philadelphia and in Austin, Texas.

The company is also working on striking a deal with a large health care system for a forthcoming 60-unit community in Las Vegas, though the details are still mostly under wraps due to the preliminary nature of the discussion, according to Solera founder and CEO, Adam Kaplan.

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“The project is going to happen, and it’s going to happen with a local family that is very influential within the [Las Vegas] health care business,” Kaplan told Senior Housing News. “But how we formalize the relationship with the health care system, that is still evolving.”

Solera was founded in 2016 with a goal of developing resort-style senior living communities in markets with high barriers to entry. Kaplan previously worked as senior vice president of business and organizational development for Senior Lifestyle Corp., a Chicago-based provider co-founded by his father, Bill Kaplan.

The Las Vegas community will focus on higher levels of care for older adults, marking a shift away from Solera’s core strategy of developing and operating more hospitality-focused properties, Kaplan said. The community will emphasize memory care, and could even include care for residents with Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.

“This partnership with the health care system, there’s a lot we could benefit from in terms of research,” Kaplan said. “We could help refine what works within this category and then ultimately go and even look to scale it up and bring this product to multiple locations throughout the country.”

Solera is among a bevy of senior living providers looking to work more closely with hospitals, insurance providers or health systems. The general idea is that these parties, which often count many older adults as their patients or beneficiaries, can work with senior living communities to improve outcomes and drive down the cost of health care. And, in turn, senior living communities can improve the quality of care for their residents and tout such partnerships as a way to stand out from their local competitors .

“Solera is a hospitality company. That’s our expertise,” Kaplan said. “We’re not cutting-edge in terms of health care, so aligning with a health care system could be very accretive for us.”

The power of partnerships

One way Solera hopes to better serve its residents is by linking up with players outside of the senior living industry, including medical experts, local schools, well-known food vendors and local restaurateurs.

For example, the provider is working with Bonnie Brae Ice Cream, a popular ice cream shop in Denver, to create specialty ice cream for its residents. Solera is also in talks with a restauranteur to collaborate on signature pizza recipes and is working with “a well-respected fitness instructor that trains one of the most notable and high profile seniors in the country,” Kaplan said.

Additionally, Solera has committed to using CarePredict, a monitoring technology platform that works in conjunction with a wrist-worn wearable device for residents.

These and other partnerships help Solera differentiate itself in the crowded senior living market and can help fill gaps where the company doesn’t have as much know-how, Kaplan said.

“We don’t always have the answers,” he explained. “So, we’re working with experts in our markets and outside of our markets to try and create better offerings for our residents.”

More generally, Kaplan believes that the senior living industry is headed toward a landscape where the major players have brand verticals that cater to different kinds of residents. One sub-brand Solera has launched is called “Solera Reserve,” and the company is contemplating further sub-brands in the future, Kaplan said.

Striking unique partnerships could be a way to help those brands stand out.

Solera isn’t the only senior living provider with this notion. Lake Oswego, Oregon-based Eclipse Senior Living recently launched a new independent living brand called Embark to focus on middle-market senior living communities.

“I’m a believer that senior living is moving more toward the hotel business,” Kaplan said. “I like businesses where you can differentiate and provide something that is more valuable to people.”

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