Group of seniors sitting in yoga class.
Credit: Betsie Van der Meer / Getty Images)

Bloomfield, NJ-based Juniper Communities has launched Catalyst, a membership-based health and well-being program the company hopes will bring about the “next generation of senior living” by creating an “ecosystem of programs and services” that will bring together three formerly siloed areas: care, hospitality services and engagement.

As part of the program, a lifestyle concierge advocates for and coordinates what individual residents need to manage their lives and meet their individual “wellspan” goals. Members can pick and choose from a series of programs, or they can bundle programs as a membership. As a bonus, members also have access to data to help suggest what actions might keep them healthy the longest.

Juniper founder and CEO Lynne Katzmann, Ph.D., said that Catalyst aims to not only “add years to life, but life to years” for participants. 

“They want quality of life, not just additional years,” she said. “They want to live those years the way they want to live them. They want to get the support they need, but make choices about what support they get and how they pay for it.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the CEO said, the importance of engagement and its direct effects on health became evident. Consumers, she said, started thinking differently and wanted control over their lives.

Enter Catalyst. The program brings together the care transitions under Juniper’s Connect4Life program, which integrates onsite ancillary medical services and care coordination for residents; hospitality services, such as food, housekeeping and transportation; and engagement offered through the company’s Connections program, which provides mind, body and spirit-related activities. 

Rather than create care levels, Catalyst creates membership levels akin to those of a country club. Residents can choose whether or not to purchase a membership.

“It’s another way of achieving whole-person wellness,” Katzmann said. “At the end of the day, you’re cutting hospitalizations and readmissions, providing access and better quality of life.”

The CEO said that senior living is about managing lifestyles and needs to allow residents to stay healthy and enjoy life. 

“It’s adding quality to your additional years,” she said. “We call that a huge paradigm shift in the country, moving from medical intervention to prevention.” 

Evolution of care

In addition to including Juniper’s Connect4Life program, Katzmann said, Catalyst is an umbrella over the company’s Perennial Advantage Medicare Advantage plan formed with Christian Living Communities, Ohio Living and AllyAlign; and Connections, which took activities from “bingo, Bible study and bowling” to personalized options and programs based on demographics. 

Juniper has been piloting Catalyst for almost two years to determine how to create a technology foundation to enable the company to offer choice among services and payment options.

Patricia Jacobs, former U.S. sales director of technology provider Cubigo, through which the service is deployed, has joined Juniper to take the pilot, continue its evolution and work with the company to roll it out across its communities.

“It’s a way to organize service and provide options for the future,” Katzmann said.

Shift to preventive health

Medicare Advantage plans have begun to innovate over the past five years, Katzmann said, with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation studying chronic illness and how to better manage Medicare spending and improve quality. 

As the country and consumers move toward a preventive healthcare environment, and as understanding of the effects of chronic illness on quality of life improves, she said, an evolution will occur in the types of benefits that promote health and reduce costs and the need for medical intervention. Some of those benefits include food, transportation, home improvements, fitness and care coordination.

“Catalyst, over time, will begin to take a look at a series of benefits and membership packages that impact people who need that kind of support for their chronic illness and to remain healthy,” she said. “My great hope is Medicare Advantage plans like Perennial Advantage will be able to submit that benefit package to the government, get it approved and offer those packages to people living in these residences.”