Assisted Living “Lite” Or Not

Whether you think you operate your assisted living community under a hospitality model or a healthcare model, there will only be more health care in the future.

Recently, there have been some stories in the senior care media about the hospitality model for assisted living compared with the healthcare model. That was a big debate in the late 1990s when 20 assisted living companies went public as some companies didn’t want to be labeled as “healthcare” companies, with all the regulatory and reimbursement baggage that comes with it. Some preferred to call the hospitality model “assisted living lite.” In fact, the founder of Sunrise Senior Living was famously quoted as saying Sunrise did not provide “health care.” But that was many years ago. In my mind, the debate is silly today, because if you are an assisted living provider, you are also a healthcare provider. And if you are charging high rents in a relatively new building, there had better be a lot of hospitality as well. Assisted living without health care is really independent living in smaller apartments with home health on demand. And over time, both in years and in each length of stay, the healthcare component becomes increasingly important. Given national trends, we can only expect acuity levels to increase in assisted living, like it or not.


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