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Leisure Care Refreshes Portfolio, Evolves Programming for Tomorrow’s Senior Living Residents

Leisure Care has a new website and revamped branding,

all part of a company wide effort to prepare for the arrival of the baby boomer generation.

In recent years since the pandemic began, the Seattle-based company’s leaders have sharpened the operator’s emphasis on staff morale, deepened its use of data and psychographics and, most recently, retooled its branding to better appeal to the boomers.

The incoming generation of older adults is bringing with it new preferences and needs, often what they enjoyed in their lives before moving into senior housing. Leisure Care CEO Dan Madsen said that is changing the paradigm of aging, and Leisure Care is meeting the moment by honing wellness and lifestyle offerings.

“It’s not just a trend,” Madsen told Senior Housing News.

Leisure Care operates 52 senior living communities across 16 states, with at least three communities in every timezone in the U.S. The company has grown quickly in the last five years, and has expanded by about 50 percent by adding 27 communities in that time.

Looking ahead, Madsen sees Leisure Care remaining in the 50-community range as the company gains and sheds properties.

“We’re refreshing the portfolio as we move forward,” Madsen said. Indeed, Leisure Care will open an assisted living and memory care community in Virginia next month, an IL, AL and memory care community in Oregon and an AL and memory care community in Delaware later this month.

Evolving to serve the boomers

In February, Leisure Care announced a rebranding effort centered on the belief that the incoming boomers are “not interested in a permanent vacation.” The company came to that conclusion after getting feedback from employees and residents.

With that knowledge, the company is seeking out new ways to keep residents feeling engaged and fulfilled.

One cornerstone of the effort is a new website Leisure Care built to show the world it’s helping older adults “keep rocking.”

It is also meant to set the company apart with prospective residents and their families and help them understand how the operator can help them experience new and fun things in their day-to-day lives. And residents don’t just want specific kinds of programming, they want to be part of the process.

Over the years, Leisure Care’s slate of programming has evolved to reflect the changing preferences of older adults.

The company’s three signature programs are PrimeFit Wellness, Opal Memory Care and Travel by Leisure Care. Each provides different benefits to help create a holistic resident experience.

PrimeFit Wellness, for example, adds nutritional, mental, spiritual, emotional and social wellbeing into its fitness offerings to create a full wellness picture. Opal Memory Care uses researched-backed techniques and Travel by Leisure Care is a travel-based program that offers trips to all of its residents.

“When I started 30 years ago there were Sit and Be Fit classes, which were great, but we’ve advanced way beyond that now,” Madsen said.

In refocusing the company for the future, Madsen said Leisure Care is getting away from a long-held industry notion that residents have no need to ever leave their communities.

“We’re counter to that,” Madsen said.

While Madsen believes Leisure Care can offer everything residents could want inside a community, the lifestyle that they really want lies outside its four walls.

Indeed, residents don’t want their move to a senior living community to be the end of their globetrotting, according to Madsen. So, Leisure Care aids their effort with a program that facilitates day trips in the area as well as international travel.

“For example, I’m going on a cruise in the Caribbean at the end of May with a bunch of residents and [their] family members,” Madsen said.

The cruise trips are offered to residents at multiple Leisure Care communities, and community staff are also invited to attend “at deep discounts,” according to Madsen. And if enough residents sign up, some employees will attend for free to aid in care.

The discounted cruise tickets are an example of how Leisure Care refocused its culture during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Leisure Care’s high-touch model of senior living is exemplified in Murano Senior Living, a senior living highrise in Seattle. The property is humming with demand and “feels like you’re in a hotel,” according to Madsen.

Like many operators grappling with high agency usage and a difficult labor market, Leisure Care’s thesis was that if the operations within the company’s portfolio improved, so, too would recruitment and retention.

The company emphasized internal training programs that include management training. The effort has led to better-trained and more enthusiastic employees.

And, the labor market appears to have softened in recent months, according to Madsen.

Leisure Care’s usage of agency-sources labor is near zero after some communities in the portfolio had as much as nearly one-third of their workforce supplied by agencies. Now, there are more applicants in the company’s hiring funnel and the quality of the applicants is rising.

Not only is the labor market softening, but occupancy is rising, according to Madsen.

As the winter turns to spring, the normal cyclical nature of senior living occupancy is expected to buoy Leisure’s occupancy, but “it’s still volatile,” according to Madsen. Over the next 18 months, he feels good. “We learned a lot during this time,” he said.

Always in growth mode

While the pandemic has been rough on all senior living operators, Madsen believes that the operator is better for having gone through the challenges of the last three years.

“I’ve been through a few of the cycles before where it takes 18 months to two years to go through these landscape changes,” Madsen told Senior Housing News. “But at some point, banks want to lend money and capital wants to invest. So they come together.”

Madsen’s time in senior living has taught him that no matter the downturn in the economy, “we can’t stop aging and our market continues to grow,” he said.

He added that Leisure Care is always in growth mode with a few communities being opened soon and a few additional communities in development.

Currently, Leisure Care has new developments under construction on the West Coast in California and Oregon and openings planned on the East Coast..

Leisure Care evaluates psychographics in addition to demographics when it searches for new development locations.

“They used to be demographic-driven,” Madsen said. “But now we really look at the product types, who we are going to market to, and who lives in those markets.”

Commercial stakeholders aren’t the only ones weary of the current climate. Prospective residents are watching a stagnant housing market drive their net worth down, potentially delaying their move into senior living.

“Residents get scared or prospects get scared,” Madsen said. “They come in and they take a tour and say they’ll just wait, wanting things to calm down.”

As Leisure Care management continues to reshape the company’s portfolio, pre-pandemic normality is returning.

And, masks are coming off soon – a symbolic moment for residents and staff and one fewer obstacle for prospects on the fence.

“There are still so many restraints on our ability to function normally,” Madsen said. “Masks coming off will send a message.”