Michelle Rassler and Steve Lindsey
Frederick Living CEO Michelle Rassler, left, and Garden Spot Communities CEO Steve Lindsey announce the organizations’ planned affiliation in a video on Friday. (Screen shot of Garden Spot Communities video)

Two southeastern Pennsylvania senior living and care organizations on Friday announced their intentions to affiliate, saying the decision was driven by a belief that “the era of the single-site and small-system organization is coming to a close.”

Lancaster County-based Garden Spot Communities and Montgomery County-based Frederick Living said that the affiliation process that will join their organizations is “well underway.” The organizations have initiated the legal proceedings required for government approval, and the affiliation is expected to be finalized in early 2024. The counties in which they are located are close to one another but not adjacent.

“We started this journey because both Frederick Living and Garden Spot Communities recognized that the world is changing faster today than ever before,” Garden Spot Communities CEO Steve Lindsey said in a video and written announcement posted online. “Both organizations believed that the era of the single-site and small-system organization is coming to a close. As we each looked for partners to leverage our experience and achieve a point of critical mass, we believed our mission-driven, faith-based organizations were a strong match. We are thankful that our boards agree.”

Michelle Rassler, whose last day as CEO of Frederick Living was Friday, said that Frederick Living formed task forces that began meeting in November in part to identify other nonprofit, faith-based senior living organizations that it potentially could partner with to “build a sustainable and successful future.” She had been CEO since mid-2021 and at one point in her career had been vice president of operations at the organization.

“Garden Spot Communities has demonstrated experience with implementing a strategic growth plan as well as systems that can move Frederick Living forward into the future,” Rassler said. “The leadership team at Garden Spot has experience with all levels of service, and our cultures align. Both organizations believe in the importance of vitality, engagement and support of residents in home as well as continuous improvement and innovation.”

After one Frederick Living task force made recommendations to the board in May, the two organizations had been in discussions all summer, Lindsey said.

“At the beginning of the summer, we suspected that our organizations had a common soul. At the end of the summer, we’re convinced that that’s true,” he said. 

Upon completion of the affiliation, Frederick Living will become a Garden Spot community, but changes already are afoot. In addition to Rassler’s departure, Frederick Living Chief Operating Officer Mike Hagerty became executive director of Frederick Living effective Sept. 1.

Frederick Living, a licensed continuing care retirement community in Zieglerville, PA, was founded in 1896. It includes 165 residential living cottages and apartments, 159 personal care beds, 31 memory support beds and 32 skilled nursing beds.

Garden Spot Communities was founded in 1990 and includes Garden Spot Village, a CCRC in New Holland, PA, and Maple Farm, a skilled nursing facility in Akron, PA, as well as Forgeworks, a consultancy. The Garden Spot Village campus includes 626 independent living homes and apartments, 65 personal care apartments, 40 memory support personal care apartments and 73 licensed skilled nursing beds. Maple Farm has 46 skilled nursing beds. Garden Spot Village was one of only 25 senior living communities recognized in all three areas —independent living, assisted living and memory care — of US News & World Report’s Best Senior Living ratings in 2022.