By Steve Moran
There are some myths that too many senior living leaders believe are fairy tales that should not be believed. When kids believe fairy tales it’s no big deal, except that perhaps it is actually important to their mental development.
When senior living leaders believe in fairy tales, they make really bad decisions; those decisions do real damage and even destroy businesses. They also hurt people — residents, team members, and prospects who say no to senior living.
The Number One Fairy Tale
The number one fairy tale too many leaders believe is that there is an impending age wave that will solve all of the occupancy/economic challenges senior living is facing. Don’t get me wrong, the demographics don’t lie; boomers are aging. They just are not going to move into what we have been creating, what we continue to create; at least not in the numbers we are counting on.
This is a topic that deserves a much fuller conversation than I have room for in this article. But one of the biggest reasons is that people like Jake Rothstein, the founder and CEO of UpsideHōM, are creating new, non-traditional housing models for older people that:
- Cost less money
- Feel more like the home they left
- Create a better communal living environment
- Feel less rule-bound
How UpsideHōM is Blowing a Hole in Senior Living
When I asked Jake to describe UpsideHōM he sees it as pre-senior living. But I am convinced that view under-describes or downplays the disruptive nature of what they are doing. Remember when assisted living came into its own and sucked all the low-care high-pay residents out of nursing homes? That is exactly what they are doing to independent living and assisted living.
What They Do . . .
They partner with market-rate, amenity-rich apartment complexes then add on a layer of services that are easily accessible through a single point of contact.
And . . . this is what really makes it interesting . . .
While it is possible for an individual to occupy a whole apartment unit, the typical model is for an individual to rent a bedroom and share that apartment with one or more other people.
Think Golden Girls
They are currently operating in South Florida and getting a lot of traction. Here is what they offer (from their website):
- UpsideHōMs are available in 1, 2, and 3 bedroom units, in vibrant, lively, and amenity-rich apartment communities.
- Enjoy all the benefits of an Independent Living Facility, without being in a facility, and at a fraction of the cost.
- Individual leases and simple per-bedroom pricing. Living with friends means lower cost AND built-in companionship.
- Every HōM and community is selected to meet our exacting standards for comfort, safety, mobility, and wellness.
- Don’t worry about headaches with maintenance, housekeeping, and bill management. We take care of all of it for you.
- Discounted access to dozens of services through your personal HōM Manager.
- Our intergenerational communities help residents maintain their youthfulness.
Jake describes it as co-living for grown-ups. It is particularly well suited to individuals who do not have partners or spouses and don’t want to live alone. They do a bunch of workaround programming, enabling their residents to build real community and intergenerational community.
Dining is not included but they have a centralized ordering system for meals delivered from restaurants at a discount. The target age group is much larger than traditional senior living ranging from early-60s to mid-80s and even into the 90s.
They believed that the primary decision-maker would be the prospective resident, but what they are finding is that it is about 50/50 between resident and resident family. They are primarily marketing through Facebook and Google Ads.
When They Need Care
This is an area they are still exploring. There are several options that might include mutual support by roommates, home care, and perhaps traditional assisted living. They are even thinking about what “Hospital at Home” might mean in this setting.
I can see this model blowing a hole in traditional independent living. The biggest opportunity and the biggest challenge will be figuring out how to create community among the residents who are part of HōM and the rest of the apartment community.
Senior living needs to be paying attention.
Note: If you are interested in other organizations using co-living to impact senior living, here are some of our other articles on this topic: