LaShuan BetheaThis year during National Assisted Living Week® (September 11-17), we celebrate “Joyful Moments.” This special observance honors assisted living staff, communities, residents, and families that come together as a large extended family and create happy, special memories together.

After the challenges of the past two and a half years, this theme is especially meaningful. Assisted living providers stepped up during that time to ensure their residents felt safe and loved and still had access to the care they need. They continued to create “Joyful Moments”—even when it wasn’t the easiest.

As we begin to emerge from one of the most challenging times in recent history, assisted living providers should evaluate new ways to continue delivering the highest quality care for residents going forward.

One strategy that may be relatively new to many within assisted living is population health management (PHM). PHM is the process of improving the health and quality of life for residents. It focuses on wellness, prevention, and proactive care coordination/management.

What does that mean for assisted living providers, and why is it so important?
Although a new concept for assisted living providers, other provider types—especially acute and primary care—have been leading the way under a multitude of PHM models for many years. PHM models deliver value-based care that helps improve outcomes and delivers better services to consumers. They help achieve the triple aim—the right care, at the right time, in the right place. The good news for assisted living providers is that a strong understanding of PHM can help you improve quality outcomes for your residents, position yourself well in the market, and manage risk within communities.

Assisted living is a natural setting for PHM. You offer meals, wellness programs, social engagement opportunities, transportation, supportive care, and other services focused on a whole-person approach while maintaining a home-like environment. You are positively influencing social determinants of health factors, thus being in a strong position to enhance outcomes, improve care, and lower costs. This is important because your community partners and referral sources are being held accountable to outcomes that you influence and are tracking your performance on these metrics—whether you are aware of it or not.

In addition, there has been growth in supplemental benefits offerings under Medicare Advantage. Many plans offer benefits such as companion services, which are currently out-of-pocket expenses for assisted living residents. Some plans go even further, helping with groceries and other traditionally non-health care-related benefits. Although fairly new and small in scope, the number of plans offering these benefits will increase. This could impact the amount of private-pay services in assisted living communities and will necessitate better coordination with health plans for covered services, as well as expand the options for innovations by assisted living providers themselves.

What can assisted living providers do now to prepare for the changes ahead, such as a move towards PHM?
First and foremost, collect important data. The health care landscape continues to change and evolve, and assisted living providers should begin now to track key data, such as hospital readmissions, emergency department visits, etc. Health plans and payors are already tracking these data and know how different providers compare. It is important to know where you stand and how you can improve. This will allow you to be a better partner with health plans and other providers in the future. It will also help you understand what is happening in your community and improve resident satisfaction by developing systems to reduce unnecessary hospitalizations and emergency transfers. Long Term Care Trend Trackersm ( is a free tool offered to National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL) members. It allows you to start tracking immediately and trend yourself next to other providers in your area and across the country.

Additionally, start learning about what is happening in the health care space. What changes are occurring? What opportunities exist in value-based care? How can you partner with or become involved in provider-owned plans? Understanding the changing landscape puts you in a strong position to be successful in the future.

You should also plan to attend this year’s AHCA/NCAL Population Health Management Summit December 7-8 at the Gaylord National Harbor in Maryland. There will be several sessions focused specifically on assisted living, and this will be an invaluable opportunity to learn more about how to be successful utilizing PHM strategies and models in your communities. For more information and to register, go to

Success means being able to deliver quality care for assisted living residents. It also means continuing to nurture the relationships that make your communities feel like home and create so many more joyful moments that are worth celebrating.

Enjoy National Assisted Living Week® (NALW), and be sure to share your celebrations on social media using the hashtag #NALW. Visit for more information on National Assisted Living Week® (September 11-17).

Visit to learn more about the National Center for Assisted Living.

Visit for more information on AHCA/NCAL’s Population Health Management efforts.

LaShuan Bethea is the executive director of the National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL). ​