The board of directors of Newtown Square, PA-based continuing care retirement community White Horse Village has approved a $95 million five-year master plan, the nonprofit announced last week.

The plan features a range of enhancements and new construction across the 96-acre campus, which currently includes 335 independent residence options and a two-story healthcare center featuring 59 private skilled nursing rooms, 48 personal care (assisted living) suites and 20 memory care rooms.

The board’s approval includes the construction of a brand new person-centered healthcare center, new independent living residences, renovations to clubhouse areas, expansion of the fitness center, auditorium, dining venues and the White Horse Tavern, as well as updates to existing residences and the development of an outdoor garden space for resident use.

The new developments are meant to strengthen White Horse Village’s reputation as a premier nonprofit senior housing and healthcare community in the Philadelphia region, and they are the culmination of a three-year effort to gather input from market data, industry experts and focus groups to assess priorities for improvements to provide exceptional senior living experiences, White Horse President and CEO Len Weiser told McKnight’s Business Daily.

“We really educated ourselves on what the industry was doing. We did several market studies to see what demographics would support and then we brainstormed a vision for what we wanted to do with our infrastructure and aligned all those pieces together and simplified it into a long-range plan,” Weiser said. “Our master plan incorporates a lot of those things.”

Current and future White Horse residents will benefit from the master plan’s mix of short-term and long-term enhancements. Current residents will benefit immediately from improvements in 2021 with new exterior facelifts on current residences. 

“We have a very involved resident community, and they’ve taken on a large role in the feedback process, so there are things in the plan that we’re going to be using our local capital expenditure budget to complete right away, including a facelift of one of our homes that hasn’t seen a renovation in 30 years,” Weiser said.

In terms of the pandemic’s effect on the master planning process, Weiser said that dealing with COVID-19 helped the nonprofit better prepare its vision for the future of healthcare delivery for older adults. For White Horse, that future is likely to include a reduction in skilled nursing beds.

“We actually saw occupancy within our independent living sector increase to 98% during the pandemic,” Weiser said. That’s up from an occupancy rate of 91% pre-pandemic. On the other end of the spectrum, White Horse saw a significant decrease in occupancy rates within its skilled nursing and personal care sectors.

“Things are going to change because of COVID, but we’re not going to stop vying for our future because of it,” Weiser said. “Not only do our residents of today need that, but our residents of the future require it.”