Quality Senior Living (QSL) is charting a busy period of growth for its “Blake by QSL” brand, with a plan to open several communities in the coming weeks and months.
The senior living company in December opened a new community in Harahan, Louisiana, and it’s nearing opening dates for others in Biloxi, Mississippi; and in Panama City and Miramar Beach, Florida. By March, the company expects to have nine properties in operation, according to CEO Glenn Barclay.
“We’re going to have a very busy … first quarter of 2021,” Barclay told Senior Housing News.
QSL’s management company is called QSL Management, while its real estate platform, called QSL, is a distinct entity. Like some other senior living providers, QSL is targeting secondary and tertiary markets for new developments with the belief that they are sometimes overlooked. That thesis has guided its development strategy for the Blake brand “since day one,” according to Leland Rice, vice president of development.
“Primary markets have been over-developed, in a large way due to a lot of institutional money,” Rice told SHN. “But secondary and tertiary markets, particularly in our geographic region, are often overlooked, and are very ripe for our specific offering which is resort-style independent senior living that is licensed for assisted living.”
Typically, QSL devotes about 65% of a community’s units to independent living and assisted living, with the rest reserved for memory care. The provider’s communities have a standard floorplan of 118 or more units and include a bar and lounge, with other amenities such as a theater, salon, spacious interior courtyards and areas for outpatient therapy, physical therapy and speech rehab services.
Wellness is a particular focus of Blake by QSL, according to Rice. The company’s communities are staffed by an onsite medical director, a primary care physician or an advanced registered nurse practitioner who provides direct care to residents and oversees wellness programs. The company also on Jan. 20 is set to welcome a new vice president of wellness.
QSL also places an emphasis on hospitality and dining. For example, the company is planning an open kitchen concept at its Blake at Miramar Beach community in Florida.
“I think we’re either the first or one of the first that has an open kitchen concept for a strictly assisted living facility,” Barclay said. “Our chef will be able to cook right there in front of the residents.”
Like nearly all other senior living providers, Covid-19 has presented a hurdle to QSL’s operations. The biggest challenge so far has been keeping up with all of the information required to mount an effective infection control response.
“The collaboration and communication has been both the priority and the challenge,” Barclay said. “But we have weathered the pandemic very well, and we’ve had few cases, which has been a blessing.”
The company held its Covid-19 vaccine clinic at its community in Harahan last week, with more scheduled.
Barclay, who co-founded the Blake brand, coined the name in honor of his son, Blake. The company can trace its roots back to 2006, when Barclay was looking for an assisted living community for his mother-in-law.
“I had toured all of the skilled nursing and senior living facilities along the Gulf Coast, and at that time, I came out really discouraged,” Barclay said. “We actually started the Blake brand to provide a place for my wife’s mom, and she was one of our residents at the Blake at Gulf Breeze, which we opened in 2008.”
And if the Blake moniker sounds familiar, that’s because there are actually two companies with communities using the brand name. Originally, the company was owned by two developers — Cardinal Ventures, Inc. and QSL — but Barclay branched off in 2019, taking a number of properties with him and branding them as “Blake by QSL” communities. The other, affiliated with Cardinal, does business today as Blake Management Group.
Today, the two Blake companies communicate frequently in order to stay out of each other’s way.
“We know the markets that we’re looking at over the next five years, so there are no surprises,” Barclay said. “We all know where each development group is looking.”
Looking ahead, QSL is optimistic about its future prospects. The company plans steady growth through the end of the Covid-19 era and beyond.
“We’re moving forward, we’re just as optimistic as ever, and we’re looking to initiate four new projects a year,” Rice said. “And that will be true in 2021.”