Will a pandemic trigger a boom in retirement homes?
There has been talk in Poland for years about the need to care for seniors in the context of an aging society. Only the coronavirus pandemic can cause a real revolution in the nursing home market. Entrepreneurs predict that health prophylaxis, neglected during the pandemic, plus long time spent in confinement at home, will increase the interest, especially in large-scale facilities.
The closure of multi-generational families in houses has become a kind of test whether it will be possible to stay under one roof in the future. Many people realized that the combination of remote work duties with caring for children and seniors losing mental or physical fitness is time-consuming and energy-consuming, very demanding and often very difficult for both sides. Seniors living alone, now doomed to limited human contact, could also feel the bitter taste of loneliness and lack of help at hand.
Although, until now the issue of spending the autumn of life in a nursing home was treated as a necessary evil in Poland, the pandemic may change it. There is already growing interest in post-coronavirus services in the world. The lockdown, which has kept us at home and discouraged us from using health care on a topic other than COVID-19, will undoubtedly take a toll. During the pandemic, the number of patients visiting doctors for prevention has decreased. Complications after neglected diseases will increase, hence an efficient and effective post-pandemic rehabilitation will be necessary.
Therefore, facilities combining the functions of a retirement home with a professional physiotherapy and – if needed – medical care center may become attractive. One of the facilities whose scale, modularity and equipment meets this type of criteria, is the ConcordiaSalus Center, located in the picturesque surroundings of orchards near Warsaw. It was established in 2010 as one of the first homes for seniors designed from start to finish for our grandparents and parents demanding, among others, physiotherapy, but as the owners admit, “we overtook the market and made mistakes”.
Photo 1 ConcordiaSalus – a large, professionally designed and equipped center combining the functions of a retirement home with a rehabilitation center
From paradise for seniors to ZUS disability prevention
The owners of the center benefited from EU funding for the construction and built an impressive facility in the charming Masovian district of Osieczek (35 km from Warsaw, between Grójec and Mszczonów).
“It was created out of a family need. We were looking for a place of care for our parents that in old age would guarantee them the highest level of care and comfort that would be difficult for us to provide under normal circumstances. It was not a small house with a few rooms and two nurses, but a place that could realistically meet their needs. The original idea was taken from the Western model. It was a dream that the older generation could enjoy the charms of autumn of life in the space dedicated to them for years. We have designed a large center (for over 200 beds), because only this scale allows it to be equipped with comfortable rooms, spacious places for professional medical treatments and the implementation of all social needs – artistic, recreational or simply social. It was supposed to be a paradise for seniors,” – says the president of ConcordiaSalus Sp. z o.o. Piotr Kukułka.
The location was also important – on the one hand, close to the capital and important communication junctions, on the other, in a natural environment that will provide seniors with silence, clean air, and family visiting, encouraging them to spend a nice whole day or weekend, rather than stopping by their family members for a short-time visit. We were looking for a place full of areas for walking, relaxing, mushroom picking, fishing and with nearby attractions, such as a horse farm, which would offer the possibility of carriage rides or organizing sleigh rides.
A dream came true – in the heart of the Protected Landscape Area of the “Dolina Rzeki Jeziorki” facility, a center was created from the beginning to the end, designed for the needs of the elderly and fully equipped to provide this type of service. Single or double living rooms with nurse call systems, doctor’s offices, rooms for therapeutic and social meetings. Around 2015, a pavilion for rehabilitation treatments was added, equipped with the highest quality medical equipment, on which treatments can be carried out – from hydrotherapy, through laser therapy, electrotherapy, cryotherapy to light therapy. A comfortable space was also taken care of, where patients and residents await treatments. Our team was formed along with the center: an experienced team of carers and medical staff.
Photo 2 ConcordiaSalus, which has a spacious and well-kept green area, was established near Warsaw, in the heart of the picturesque Protected Landscape Area “Dolina Rzeki Jeziorki”
As CEO Kukułka analyzes, “we made a mistake – the market was not ready and we were ahead of the curve”.
“We had residents and patients, because we provided rehabilitation services from the very beginning, but the occupancy rate was too low in relation to the size of the facility. Fortunately, the modularity of Osieczek gives us a great deal of development freedom, so we decided to take advantage of public health care competitions and 7 years ago we became a center where ZUS disability prevention is implemented” – he says.
“In 2010, the market was not ready for such facilities. However, now, after months of closing their families at home, which has led many of them out of their comfort zone, we can expect a boom. Especially that the mentality is changing – we are starting to notice in Poland that caring for seniors who stay under the same roof with the younger generation is not beneficial and good for either party “ – he says.
So far, the obstacles were rather mental issues (bad associations) and the poor offer of homes for seniors. Marketing and PR of this type of services was also lame. Paradoxically, costs were usually not of key importance. According to experts, providing round-the-clock care for a senior living alone, along with daily rehabilitation and participation in cultural and educational activities, requires greater finances than a monthly fee in specialized facilities of this type, especially those with a large scale of operations. If a given center selects residents according to a similar level of intellectual and motor skills, it is able to provide seniors with attractive social relationships and much more effective care.
It can be expected that anyone who will invest in this industry today, going on a scale and adding experience and professionalism of the services provided, has a great chance to dominate the market and achieve spectacular success. The nursing home industry in Poland requires professionalisation and it can be expected that the entry of a large player into the market will cause such an avalanche.
Disability prevention – contract with ZUS
Although the owners of ConcordiaSalus talk about the mistakes they made and the premature start-up, they emphasize that the modularity of the building itself has kept the investment profitable. We are talking about transforming the facility into a stationary rehabilitation center, which allowed for signing a contract with ZUS for the implementation of disability prevention camps.
“The Social Insurance Institution attaches great importance to them. It consists in financing rehabilitation camps for motor organs. We accept about 200 people for one term in Osieczek, and the Social Insurance Institution bears the entire cost of the insured’s medical rehabilitation, including the costs of accommodation, meals and travel costs from the place of residence to the center” – explains the co-owner of the facility, Jerzy Karney.
As he adds, a 24-day stay is usually very effective. Most of the patients referred to the camp regain health after the stay, and assess their stay very positively.
“A number of people coming to Osieczek for stays are poor inhabitants of small towns who had not previously had access to daily rehabilitation using such professional and modern equipment. Contrary to popular opinion that the process of applying for a disability pension is a scuffle with ZUS, many of our residents finally thank you for regaining what is most valuable, i.e. health. The effectiveness of disability prevention in Osieczek is possible thanks to the standardization of the services provided, which remain at a high level all the time ”– explains Karney.
From a business point of view, the contract with ZUS is beneficial for the center, but the modularity of the facility allows for further development directions, including a return to commercial provision of great facilities, whether in the form of a retirement home or similar activities. The owners do not rule out joining the network of facilities of this type already existing in other countries.
It is known that investment in this industry, although future-proof, may already be profitable.
ConcordiaSalus Ośrodek Rehabilitacji Stacjonarnej
Last Updated on March 9, 2021 by Karolina Ampulska