If you are developing or operating senior living communities are you doing what you do because it is what everyone else is doing or because it is the way you have always done it? Is it possible there is a better way?

I didn’t know quite what to expect when I attended the Marcus Evans CXO Executive Summit last July.  These events are an intimate gathering of around 100 senior living executives and 20 or so carefully selected vendors.  The two day event is a mix of networking time and powerful presentations and discussions.  Months later I am still writing about ideas that came out of that event. Perhaps the single most intriguing presentation was by John Cochrane, the President and CEO of the be.group.  The crux of his presentation was a “What if . . . “, question that continues to intrigue me.

Setting up the Question

  • Let’s presume that, after looking at the current aging trends in North America, you have decided to start a new business focusing on serving seniors.
  • Let’s further presume that you have a senior housing background, which means you have a leaning in that direction and some expertise.
  • Finally, lets’ assume there is a huge investment fund that thinks you are the right person to invest in and they hand you $100 Million as seed money, asking only that you to provide a decent to high yield on their investment.

The Big Question

Given this clean sheet of paper opportunity, what would you do with that money? Your first thought might be, “I would go out and build assisted living, memory care or independent living”.  But honestly, maybe that is not the best investment of your money and energy given the wants and needs of today’s seniors and the emerging generation of seniors. I am quite sure I don’t have the perfect answer or answers and I know that I have not been offered a pot of money but, just for fun, how about these possibilities:

  • Conventional wisdom says building new skilled nursing buildings is a path fraught with difficulty, but maybe not.  Maybe the Greenhouse Concept could work even for Medicaid.  Or maybe even that is too big; California has passed some legislation that will allow even smaller skilled nursing facilities (6-10 beds).
  • There is a lot of thinking that the market for CCRC’s is diminishing, but maybe not.  Jeff Petty thinks that, with a little more flexibility on the part of the federal government, he can create a lower middle market CCRC community that makes money and cares for residents for the rest of their lives even if their money runs out.

Maybe we could even create a very modestly priced CCRC that would target low income seniors.  It might feature shared apartments, or tiny apartments and more common space that people would really live in, rather than just look good.

  • Maybe rather than seeing “CCRC without walls” as primarily a marking tool that will, over time, generate move-ins, it should be the starting concept, with the idea that, as seniors age in place, bricks and mortar would have to be built or acquired.
  • Perhaps there is a market for a more dollars and sense approach to co-housing, where a young or empty nester couple buys a house along with one or two elders and they enter into a share of profits agreement (plus of course a lot of other details on care).

5 Questions

In his presentation John offered 5 questions an organization’s might explore:

  1. What business should be we in? And the corollary . . . What business should we not be in?
  2. How do we add value?
  3. Who are the target customers?
  4. What are our value propositions?
  5. What capabilities are essential to add value and differentiate us?

  How About You?

How would you answer these 5 questions? Do you have any crazy ideas for caring for seniors that would be interesting to explore and look at? If you like this article it would be a great honor to have you subscribe to our mailing list HERE.