The future of middle-income senior living residents could be looking at lowered rates due to a new ‘Co-care’ concept.
Earlier this week, the new concept referred to as ‘Co-Care’ was introduced by KTGY Architecture and Planning’s “R+D Studio” in California. The goal is to reduce the overall cost associated with senior living which would benefit the housing residents by sharing units within communities. The units would provide a more communal and leaner amenities, but at a lower rate than the current average. This is a concept that is aimed specifically at helping millions of seniors that will not qualify to receive public assistance within the next decade. Additionally, it could help those that might not have the ability to pay for private-pay senior living at today’s rates.
According to KTGY director of design, Ben Seager, KTGY started considering new ways for addressing the middle market and how to improve the current situation roughly six months ago.
Seager stated, “For long as I am able to remember, this has been a problem that seniors are faced within the senior living industry.” He continued to say, “The concept of Co-Care aims to address the current issues that continue to be an issue of affordability associated with seniors in assisted living communities. This concept will be mutually beneficial in design.”
KTGY released a hypothetical design concept where Co-Care would have senior residents living with up to three other senior residents in a single unit with two bathrooms and four bedrooms. Every unit comes equipped with a small kitchen and living areas. Additionally, there would be a dining area and laundry room. The total unit would measure about 1,280 square feet, coming out to 320 square feet for each resident.
In the hypothetical design, communities would also have a courtyard on the ground floor for leisure time, along with walking paths and a koi pond accessible for all housing residents. In addition, moveable glass walls allow residents to transfer from the courtyard to the connected commercial kitchen, commercial dining area, and café lounge. Furthermore, the concept offers a flexible range of spaces for activities to keep residents entertained and provide exercise options, including a physical therapy and fitness room. There would also be administrative and service spaces on ground-level, while subterranean parking would be available underneath.
However, KTGY is not alone in believing that this Co-Care approach to seniors sharing units is the future in helping the senior living middle market. Affinity Living Group, an Atlanta-based company is offering “companion rooms” at their existing communities that provide rates ranging from $2,300 to $2,800 per bed.
Although the unit and community design are only a single part of the affordability issue, the overall care cost has a large factor in it too. The Co-Care concept is limited to how much it can lower the cost of senior living, but it is able to assist seniors in other ways. For example, reducing the amount of staff necessary. Therefore, helping reduce overhead and per resident expenses that can result in lower per-unit prices.
According to Seager, “If a resident requires assistance with simple daily activites, such as opening a jar of jelly or peanut butter, or making coffee in the morning, it is likely that another resident in the Co-Care residence can help them, reducing or possibly eliminating the need of calling staff or nurses for help each time a simple task is needed.” He included, “Additionally, by offering residents with multi-use amenities it reduces the need for staffing multiple areas around the community. Some of these spaces are lightly used.”
The Co-Care concept was designed with the aim of helping assisted living communities in multiple ways, but it’s a concept that may be applied to various care settings, such as memory care and independent living facilities, said Seager. Therefore, the initial concept was meant to offer a foundation for new ideas to spawn.
He stated, “We may not be able to build the concept in its current form, however, it can work to assist in starting conversations and creating innovation within the senior housing industry.” He added, “We constantly developed and announce new ideas to our clients, including the concept of Co-Care units.”
In the end, the concept of Co-Care communities is part of a larger plan to help the senior housing industry provide both care and spaces to seniors at more affordable costs. It is estimated that many seniors will be unable to afford to pay for assisted living in ten years or less at the current growth rate. Therefore, to help solve this challenging issue for seniors with middle-income markets innovative concepts are being announced to see what sticks. As Seager said, “throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks”.
The goal is to develop a middle-market model that will combine affordability, profitability, and be scalable. Not only will this goal require new approaches to the operation and design of senior living facilities, but it may also turn out that new types of investors will be necessary.
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