Morning Pointe Senior Living has reached a growth milestone with its 40th community – and the company does not plan to stop there.
Morning Pointe’s latest addition is The Lantern at Morning Pointe Alzheimer’s Center of Excellence of Hardin Valley in Knoxville, Tennessee, is currently in its second phase of development and will open in early 2025.
Morning Pointe has since its 1997 founding remained a family owned and operated company, which is part of what has allowed it to keep its “commitment to founding principles” of providing upper-middle-market senior living services, according to Founder and CEO Greg Vital.
“We have grown to almost 2,000 employees in five states,” Vital said. “It’s an important part of continuing to build that corporate culture, commitment to values and making sure that we find good people and invest in good people.”
While development as a whole has slowed for the industry, Morning Pointe has expanded its communities and campuses in 2023, with a handful of projects slated to break ground in 2023 in Kentucky and Tennessee.
The momentum has been on track since Senior Housing News last spoke with Vital in 2021, when the company had a portfolio of 35 communities and serving over 1,500 residents. Since then, it has steadily completed new communities and expansions to serve even more.
Looking ahead, that momentum is expected to continue with up to two projects being developed per year over the next five years.
‘We want to be prepared’
Morning Pointe’s occupancy reached the mid-90% range, a high point for the company in 2023. That is due to the company’s “strong culture of service and a long term reputation as an owner-operator,” Vital said.
“We have seen an enormous amount of pent-up need for our services coming off Covid,” he added. “And as families and people are going back to work and getting adjusted, they’re making sure their moms and dads are getting back out of the house and in the care levels that they need.”
Vital himself is also known in the state of Tennessee as a congressperson in the Tennessee House of Representatives, a position he was elected to in 2021.
On the growth front, Morning Pointe is continuing to expand beyond the 40-community mark. Although elevated interest rates, a higher cost of construction and labor issues among builders have made new development daunting in 2023, Vital noted that the company will continue to push ahead with new projects.
Among the company’s current projects is an 80-unit assisted living and memory care community, scheduled to open Dec. 12. The community is slated to offer care for residents with both early-to-moderate and advanced forms of dementia. The company also broke ground on communities in Knoxville, Tennessee; and Danville, Kentucky.
“Every day, people get older and need our services, and we want to be prepared in those markets where we provide care to be a continued dominant player,” he said.
Every one of Morning Point’s 40 communities “is as important as the first or most recently developed,” Vital noted.
The Covid-19 pandemic has been one of hardship for the senior living industry. But the silver lining is that it has also led to new ways of doing things.
Like many other operators, Morning Pointe has been challenged by staffing throughout the last few years. But that provided a learning opportunity which resulted in the development of new training programs for staff and the creation of an in-house “university” where workers can hone their skills. Flexible scheduling – such as 12-hour shifts, three-day work weeks and or split shifts – is also on the minds of Morning Pointe’s leaders.
“[There are] opportunities to give people ways to work differently to make sure that we are properly staffed,” he said. “Whether they’re on the direct caregiving side, where it’s more difficult, [or] in some of our office positions.”
Growing beyond the 40-community mark
With its 40th community coming in 2025, Morning Pointe is still identifying markets to grow in. The company currently is planning to expand in the Mid-Atlantic region as well as in regional footprints like Kentucky and Tennessee.
Vital noted the company could eventually expand in states like North Carolina and South Carolina, and generally he sees “plenty of opportunity to grow” and provide services in more places.
For now, the company is not set to grow beyond its current five states, as those are markets it knows best.
“We consider healthcare delivery systems for us, a regional business, where we can understand the marketplace and support our recruitment, training and reputation,” Vital said. “And it lends greatly with our financing and our construction and development team.”
Morning Pointe will continue to operate in the upper-middle-market as it grows. Vital noted the company compares itself to a “quality Hampton Inn or Fairfield Inn” in terms of pricing and quality. Each building is built roughly the same, with common design elements including being one-story and averaging around 70 units.
Due to the sizing of Morning Pointe communities, there is an extra emphasis on clinical care and life enrichment activities. Vital previously told SHN these activities include farm-to-table dining, wellness and exercise programs and art therapy.
“We’re looking at different ways that we can continue to provide service and hold prices competitive with inflation,” he said. “There’s a lot of challenges that we’ve learned to work with that have helped us provide better value and care for our families.”
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