Marshall, Minn.-based Prairie Home Hospice & Community Care has agreed to purchase Fieldcrest Assisted Living, located in nearby Cottonwood, Minn.
Assisted living is a growth area for hospice. Between 2011 and 2019 hospice utilization overall rose by 35%; however, hospice utilization in assisted living facilities increased by more than 100%, according to a 2019 report from Hospice News sister site Senior Housing News.
“Fieldcrest offers a unique opportunity for us. As a licensed home care and hospice provider, it will allow us to provide a broad range of residential services for seniors,” said Pat Mellenthin, CEO of Prairie Home Hospice & Community Care. “It will allow us to offer services to fit people’s needs and allows people more opportunity to stay where they are, as their needs change. Residents may move in seeking only basic services like housekeeping, meals, and so forth, but over time their needs may increase to a higher level of services and care, which might even include hospice, should that become a need at some point.”
Hospice patients in assisted living facilities tend to have longer lengths of stay than patients in other settings. Patients who dwell in assisted living facilities spend 42 more days in hospice than the average for patients across all settings, the Senior Housing News report indicated.
In 2018, 20% of hospice patients in assisted living exceeded 180 days of care compared to the national average of 11%
Longer lengths of stay have a positive impact on hospice’s profitability, but can sometimes attract the attention of regulators if patients are in hospice longer than the six months anticipated by rules governing the Medicare Hospice Benefit.
Patient populations who experienced longer lengths of stay boosted hospice margins by as much as 20% during 2016, according to a report from the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MEDPAC).
Fieldcrest currently provides access to 24-hour nursing care seven days a week. Residents, regardless of whether they are on hospice, receive a skilled nursing visit monthly to assess and address their health care needs.
The acquisition of Fieldcrest will also help the hospice address overflow at their residential hospice houses, which routinely have a waiting list. The hospice will be able to establish residency for patients and families at Fieldcrest if they are unable to stay in their current homes, but wish to avoid a nursing facility or other institution.
Fieldcrest is expected to transition to operating under the Prairie Home Hospice & Community Care license on March 1.
“Recent studies show that our aging baby boomers prefer options that allow them to age in place,” Mellenthin said. “Many choose to remain living in their home for as long as possible and when that’s no longer possible, they look for options that will allow them to stay in place for the remainder of their lives, without additional moves or moving to a nursing home. Fieldcrest will provide those options for people.”