Josh Stevens, CEO, EmpowerMe

St. Louis, MO-based EmpowerMe Wellness, a healthcare provider serving senior living communities, is set to acquire ONR, an Austin, TX-based provider of physical, occupational and speech therapy services, the company announced Monday.

The move, with a closing date to be announced within the next few weeks, will make the company one of the largest providers of therapy services in the senior living industry, according to EmpowerME. The companies together will serve communities across 36 states, representing 100,000 older adults and 2,880 staff members, it said.

A meeting in Austin

Discussions about the merger sprang from meetings earlier this year between EmpowerMe CEO Josh Stevens and ONR’s founder and CEO, Jill Capela, an EmpowerMe spokesperson told McKnight’s Business Daily

Stevens initially sought mentorship from industry veteran Capela, who founded ONR in 1988. On Capela’s invitation, the two CEOs met in Austin in April to discuss their respective visions for the senior living industry. Talks about integrating the two companies began shortly thereafter, according to the spokesperson.

The companies’ leadership teams will be combined, and ONR’s current management teams, leadership and employees retained. Details on the integration are set to be announced internally over the next two weeks. 

Better market positioning

EmpowerMe said that the acquisition will help it build its market positioning beyond the Midwest and Southeast and boost its service delivery to higher-needs residents in more long-term care communities. 

ONR currently provides therapy services in 27 states and has served older adults for more than 35 years in regions where EmpowerMe does not yet have a presence, including the West Coast and Southwest. It also has extensive therapy expertise with skilled nursing populations, EmpowerMe said.

In turn, EmpowerMe will be able to offer ONR-served communities a variety of new technology-enabled health and wellness services, including diagnostic lab testing and pharmacy services, the company said. The senior living service provider said it plans to expand investments in recruiting and staffing at ONR-served communities, which currently employ more than 1,300 staff members. 


The move also will involve some rebranding. The ONR name will be retained at some of the therapy provider’s current communities, but programs will take on the EmpowerMe Wellness brand in certain locations over the coming months, according to the spokesperson. 

“We are excited and honored to establish this important partnership with ONR,” Stevens said in a statement. “I have tremendous respect and admiration for Jill Capela, a pioneer in our industry. …We share a commitment to improving the lives of seniors everywhere, and this partnership enables us to advance our mission together.” 

Capela said the acquisition will be most beneficial to senior living residents. 

“Our two companies were already known for progressive, innovative approaches to health and wellness,” she said. “Working together, we can truly transform how care is delivered in senior living to promote happier, healthier lives for seniors across the US.”