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Outlook: Senior Housing and Health Care Must Partner to Survive

Amid much conjecture and speculation, two major drivers of change–health care reform and an aging baby boomer population–are starting to show discernible effects on the senior housing and home health landscapes.

So far, senior living occupancy levels are keeping pace with successful development. However, home health and skilled nursing service operators are also adapting and partnering in new ways to serve the majority of seniors who hope to stay in their homes as they age.

Since as early as 2013, health care reform has been expanding opportunities for skilled nursing communities to provide temporary, post-acute care for people who are discharged sooner and sicker from hospitals. At the time, few traditional skilled nursing communities were equipped to provide the necessary level of medical care for that patient population.

More recently, both nursing facilities and senior living communities are finding new ways to partner within an industry fraught with challenge and change.

2014 and early 2015 saw an increased push into home health care, both from current providers and from seniors housing operators such as Brookdale Senior Living planning to expand ancillary services, including home health.

Competition is now growing among post-acute skilled nursing facilities to improve quality care and culture and to return hospital patients to their homes with lowered risk of repeat hospital admission.

U.S. health care is increasing rewards for a higher quality of care across the post-acute spectrum. In response, cross-industry partnerships have steadily driven M&A deals over the past year.

Genesis Health Care, one of the nation’s largest post-acute care providers, has sold an 18-property assisted living portfolio located mostly in Kansas. This transaction is preceded by a June, 2015 purchase of 24 skilled nursing facilities plus a contract rehabilitation business from Revera, Inc. for $240 million.

Home health nursing services giant Almost Family has acquired Massachusetts-based Long Term Solutions (LTS) in a $37 million dollar deal. LTS brings a nationwide network of nurses and health professionals who assist in developing care plans and coordinate in-home care and assisted living community referrals.t seems those most poised to succeed

Judging from the recent timeline, it seems that those best poised to succeed will attend first to quality, diversifying their offerings, and make allies of previous competition.