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In 2021, Adam Marles joined senior residing operator Lutheran Senior Companies (LSS) as President and CEO. Since then, the group has been on the transfer with a brand new strategic framework and a development plan targeted on a altering buyer demographic.
As we speak, the St. Louis-based group has eight life plan communities, 9 reasonably priced housing communities and a set of home- and community-based companies. In 2023, the group’s funds was $232 million.
Marles has helped reshape the group since coming aboard lower than three years in the past, together with by initiating a strategic overview course of.
He additionally has helped the group handle a transition away from expert nursing and into extra conventional senior residing companies corresponding to unbiased and assisted residing. And final yr the group kicked off a three-year deep-dive on reminiscence care with an interdisciplinary process drive meant to assist it develop into “best-in-class serving individuals in all settings as they dwell with dementia.”
Because the group embarks on operations in a brand new yr, Marles mentioned the goal will stay on serving to the group evolve to fulfill the demand of an incoming senior residing resident.
“For us a laser focus proper now could be ensuring that we have now sustainable communities for the long-term, recognizing that boomers’ calls for are going to be a lot completely different than our present client,” Marles informed Senior Housing Information.
Making ready for the ‘way forward for our enterprise’
Senior residing operators know all of it too properly: Because the child boomers age into senior housing, they’re bringing with them a brand new set of preferences than the earlier era. It’s thought they’ll want flexibility and affordability in care whereas avoiding settings which can be too scientific or hospital-like.
A decade in the past, LSS dove head-first into short-term rehab, even renovating “enormous elements of our buildings” to accommodate short-term keep items.
“Shortly thereafter, we realized that that wasn’t going to be the appropriate route,” Marles mentioned.
So, the group within the pre-pandemic years started to shift away from short-term rehab and extra towards the sorts of services that tomorrow’s older adults will need.
The hunt to fulfill altering preferences is mirrored within the group’s latest tasks. For instance, the group acquired a 200-bed nursing dwelling in 2013, and is at the moment engaged in downsizing the expert nursing items to only 35. Of their place, the group is including in assisted residing and reminiscence care items. The group additionally added 153 items of unbiased residing group in 2021.
At one other group, LSS is changing a 60-bed expert nursing facility into a brand new assisted residing and reminiscence care neighborhood.
He added that, because the group builds new performance into its portfolio, it’s geared toward delivering a comparable service to all residents and served older adults, regardless of the place they dwell.
To that finish, LSS is additional deepening its deal with home- and community-based companies. In December, the group introduced the acquisition of St. Louis House Well being, a house well being company primarily based in St. Louis with a specialty in orthopedics and a footprint within the neighboring state of Illinois. The company augments an already lengthy record of LSS’ supplied companies that features private-duty dwelling care and residential well being, hospice, rehab, palliative and care navigation companies.
“For us, it’s making an attempt to determine how a lot we are able to safely present … whereas honoring individuals’s needs to be the place they need to be,” Marles mentioned. “That’s the way forward for our enterprise.”
House well being and residential care are additionally methods to assist attain the hundreds of thousands of middle-market shoppers for senior residing.
“We’re actively engaged on … how we are able to assemble a sliding-scale product the place the middle-market can have entry to companies to remain secure and wholesome and engaged at dwelling,” Marles mentioned.
A lot of the corporate’s present development and evolution has been knowledgeable by a strategic framework the group rolled out final summer time. The corporate has set objectives referring to 4 essential classes: Tradition, evolution of product and companies, development and monetary sustainability.
Because it has grown, LSS has seen occupancy dip after which rebound throughout the pandemic. The group’s total occupancy price is about 90%, Marles mentioned.
Though the group is in “good condition” with regard to occupancy, he mentioned staffing has proved to be a persistent difficulty. Nursing, housekeeping and eating staff are nonetheless onerous to come back by, and Marles mentioned the group is continuous to spend money on advantages and better compensation for staff in consequence.
“Assuming the final quarter finally ends up like the primary three quarters, we may have higher turnover numbers this yr than we’ve had in 4 years,” he mentioned. “So, we’ve principally returned to the pre-pandemic baseline.”
A ‘pivot yr’ in 2024
Though the information of the house well being acquisition will not be lengthy behind it, LSS is gearing up for much more development in 2024. In reality, Marles mentioned he hopes the approaching 12 months will quantity to a “pivot yr” for the group because it builds on sturdy occupancy charges.
The corporate in 2021 acquired an assisted residing and reminiscence care group throughout the road from considered one of its life plan communities, and Marles mentioned different acquisitions are on the desk for the group within the yr to come back.
“We’re taking a look at acquisitions, if it is smart, and we’re completely concerned with collaboration and partnership,” Marles added.
One other avenue of development is thru repositioning tasks like those LSS is endeavor to swap out expert nursing for senior residing items.
LSS is also contemplating affiliations with different nonprofits, ought to alternatives current themselves. That’s going down amid a bigger pattern of non-profit senior residing operators throughout the nation contemplating becoming a member of forces to confront the challenges of tomorrow.
Among the many group’s new tasks underway is an reasonably priced housing group in St. Louis being developed in partnership with a neighborhood group targeted on “accountable improvement” and different socially minded companies.