How LCS, Stellar and Sage Oak are Changing Memory Care for the Boomers

How LCS, Stellar and Sage Oak are Changing Memory Care for the Boomers

Senior living operators have spent recent years preparing for the arrival of the Baby Boomer generation in their communities, and time is of the essence for memory care operators who must transform operations to prepare for the latest generation.

From sales and marketing evolving to attract new residents and connect with families, to changing memory care layouts, operators have taken new approaches to being prepared for the baby boomer boom in senior living.

“I absolutely believe there’s a demand wave that’s starting to hit,” said Sage Oak CEO Loe Hornbuckle.

How LCS, Stellar and Sage Oak are Changing Memory Care for the Boomers TBar Productions for WTWH Media TBar Productions for WTWH Media

Blurred lines between assisted living and memory care offerings have forced providers to create new models focused on personalization for residents with dementia, while collecting and implementing new data to improve health outcomes.

Preparing for greater scrutiny

The senior living industry has faced scrutiny from national media coverage and Congressional hearings this year, covering resident safety and the increasing lack of affordable senior living options for millions of older adults.

Those seeking out senior living are doing so with more resources at their fingertips as consumers come prepared having researched a local area’s operators and have come across national media coverage of the industry.

Spurred on by the latest Washington Post coverage, Maguire said LCS will take a deeper look at resident safety, quality oversight and policies, and implement more training for staff.

“It caused greater collaboration with different departments, and it was a good reminder that with turnover, we may lose focus, and there was a good moment in there to review standards and training opportunities,” Maguire said.

Stellar Senior Living also took the media coverage to heart, soliciting feedback from residents and the company’s communities on ways they could improve operations, rather than face new federal regulation and oversight, Benton said.

Hornbuckle said Sage Oak is thinking differently about the ways it marketed its assisted living and memory care services with a goal of connecting with who are usually the key decision-makers in the sales process: A prospective resident’s loved ones.

“Most of the decisions around dementia care are not made by the residents themselves, so I think people conflating boomers and memory care are getting it wrong because they really need to figure out who’s going to be making the decisions on behalf of the boomers.”

He added: “I think dementia care prevalence is accelerating in future generations, so I think we’re maybe underestimating potentially what is coming.”

New models, technology for tomorrow

Higher-acuity senior living providers have spent the past four years seeing lengths of stay decline in some instances while acuity rises among resident populations, forcing more complex care demands on frontline staff.

To prepare for the next generation of customers in assisted living and memory care, Sage Oak launched a concept known as Curated Care to place residents with similar care needs, health assessments, and lifestyle preferences in the same dwellings. This attention to detail in grouping residents has allowed the company to improve the lifestyle of residents who may have struggled in the past due to various environmental factors, Hornbuckle said.

“It’s allowed us to essentially create dementia care in two different forms of memory care, and so in theory, we could have multiple different versions of dementia care,” Hornbuckle said. “We want to create an environment where it’s easy for families to say ‘yes’ to.”

With the blending between care types, Benton said the industry was seeing what he called a “tweener product” of light assisted living contrasted with higher-acuity memory care units for those living with advanced cognitive decline.

“We have that in a few properties, and it’s trickier to scale than I thought, and there’s a fair amount of training because it’s less about the physical environment and more about the programming we’re putting in place,” he said.

Maguire said LCS and the wider senior living industry “need to be more mindful” of the structure of memory care offerings to meet the incoming demand of the Baby Boomer generation. With more older adults electing to age in place in their homes, Maguire said LCS would continue to expand its “navigation model” to explain senior living benefits to prospects.

Maguire said existing navigation specialists, like the ones LCS already employs, are “instrumental” in helping those living with early-stage dementia get early support and a foundation on which to move through higher levels of care down the road.

“Our ability to train and have a very nimble system to help people who are trying to help others, and that’s critical,” Maguire said. “How can we structure that to meet the demand for safety in a meaningful way for the boomers?”

With a new data platform and on-staff data scientists at the ready, Maguire highlighted how LCS uses resident health data to inform care decisions and understand the daily lives of its residents in the name of improving care.

“We’re taking data in a meaningful way and delivering that to corporate team members and community team members,” Maguire said. “The power of these data streams is really remarkable, and it’s helped from a business, care, and quality perspective.”

Sage Oak built its own internet service provider to support the tech infrastructure needed to support smart devices used in monitoring resident health. But while technology can improve operations and meet future demand, Hornbuckle advised operators to take a cautious look at some ways the hospitality industry evolved as more consumers used technology in their daily lives.

He referenced how some hotel chains used standard USB outlets to update communities – once high-tech, but now not as much with the advent of new connectors and devices. His point is that operators must not rush into new technology without weighing the effect of doing so just five or 10 years down the road..

“I don’t want to be the guy that builds a hotel with the iPod dock when the new iPhone comes out, so I think in the next several years we will settle in,” Hornbuckle added.

Looking ahead, Maguire said operators must consider new memory care concepts to capture incoming Baby Boomer demand, from new layouts of memory care neighborhoods to earlier intervention in treating dementia symptoms.

With demographics trending in favor of senior living providers seeing high census, Benton said he felt “bullish on demand” for memory care for the next generation of consumers.

To meet future demand and bring new residents into communities, Hornbuckle said operators must make programming “all about personalization” as needs-based senior living options continue to thrive.

“I think the more people we can attract to the industry, the more we’ll reduce the stigma of moving in,” Hornbuckle said. “If we can reduce the stigma of moving in, and we can move people in sooner.”

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