United Church Homes Rebalances Portfolio, Preparing for Industry’s Value-Based Care Future

From growing its number of management agreements in 2023 to forging ahead with a development pipeline and expanding in-home health services, United Church Homes (UCH) is executing on a multi-faceted growth strategy

Since January, the Marion, Ohio-based reported adding over 300 units to its managed senior housing portfolio, representing a 38% increase from last year. The expansion includes the management of North Ridgeville, Ohio, Friends Fellowship Community in Richmond, Indiana announced earlier this week.

“It helps us with some revenue and promoting nonprofit missions,” Daniel told Senior Housing News. “It helps offset some of our overhead so it’s a win-win for us.”


Assisted living and independent living occupancy are now in the “mid-90s” and have “nicely recovered” from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, and Daniel noted that the communities were “exceeding expectations for margin generation.”

“Margins are going in the right direction,” Daniel said. “I think we’re going to see margin generation in the plus-2% range hopefully better, but we’re at least expecting somewhere around a 2% positive operating margin by the end of the year.”

UCH has 102 owned, managed and market-rate and affordable senior housing communities, having expanded to a total of 15 states last year.


Growth continues

Alongside UCH Management’s expansion, the company is expanding its owned senior living campuses and growing its portfolio of home-based and community-based services.

UCH’s NaviGuide program pairs service coordinators with senior living residents to offer information on home-based services. That will help UCH integrate data streams and leverage health care insights. 

Daniel said UCH was also in the process of acquiring two home health licenses that will allow the company to penetrate the greater Cleveland, Columbus and Dayton markets with the goal of having the process in place “within the next year.”

In June, UCH announced a collaboration with other health care nonprofits to form a new group aimed at providing better care for senior living residents. The Radiant Alliance is a new nonprofit entity with Metta Healthcare, the parent company of Ohio’s Hospice and Pure Healthcare, and be an affiliate of CareSource, a Dayton-based nonprofit health plan.

Since its launch, Daniel said the Radiant Alliance was “moving forward,” with CareSource still involved with acquiring regulatory approvals that could be completed by this time next year, he added.

Already underway are pilot programs for the Radiant Alliance that will measure health outcomes, wellness, quality of life and ultimately, cost. As a nonprofit operator, Daniel previously noted that the partnerships forged from the Radiant Alliance would allow UCH to act more quickly and make financial moves, like access capital, sooner than when dealing through typical nonprofit avenues. 

This effort is just another example of how the senior living industry has reached a tipping point for value-based care and value-based contract structures, and shows why a “mindset shift” is needed to improve resident care and ways to generate revenue in the changing landscape of senior living.

“We’re definitely diversifying where our revenues are coming from as well as increasing those revenues to the mix that strategically will meet our objectives and growing in and serving more people,” Daniel told Senior Housing News.

With management and care continuum growth, UCH is also working on a range of new development projects, from new growth and acquisition growth, Daniel said. UCH is in the pre-development phase of a 130-unit apartment community in Dayton, with CareSource having invested $1 million towards the project. 

Daniel said UCH was conducting due diligence for an acquisition of a “small nonprofit” IL, AL community in northern Ohio.

“We continue our migration away from a heavy concentration on Medicaid long-term care and we will continue to trim where we can to get strategically back on skilled nursing beds that are exposed to Medicaid long-term care,” Daniel said.

With that move away from higher acuity care nursing care, Daniel said UCH would expand its reach in IL through “incremental” development or by acquisition alongside optimizing the fledgling homecare programs. 

“By this time next year we will have two, fully functioning home health agencies in the mix,” Daniel said. “As we as the Radiant Alliance and the initiatives that are spinning up now through there.”

New challenges to operations, labor improving

Daniel said UCH’s labor situation was improving with the company having “dramatically reduced” its agency budget in the last six months, and adjusted pay rates and benefit packages to remain competitive. The company has opened the NaviGuide program to employees that has helped boost employee retention.

Food costs remain a challenge and property insurance costs are expected to increase next year, Daniel said.

“We’re looking at that and we’re monitoring some of our local municipalities that are moving property taxes higher than we expected,” Daniel said.

In the long-term, Daniel said he sees opportunity to expand affordable senior living options, with a fledgling partnership in San Antonio, Texas that could add 200 to 300 additional affordable units into the broader UCH portfolio in years to come.

“We’re always looking out ahead of course and balancing the financial and the operational demand of maintaining our existing operations and investing in the future,” Daniel said. “So it’s an exciting time as we see our portfolio rebalancing, with more residential and now home-based services.”

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