United States: Growing Rideshare Program Gives Brookdale A ‘Lyft'

Tim Mullaney at Senior Housing News has an interesting new article (posted below) on how Brookdale Senior Living is partnering with a ride-sharing company to provide residents greater flexibility in solving their transportation needs. Are the days of the community bus limited? With the growing prevalence of ride-sharing and sophistication of seniors in using apps to order services, this concept allows seniors to feel more in control of their lives while potentially eliminating the need for a dedicated bus and driver. If this idea can be implemented (perhaps with a special rate for residents or cost sharing), it could represent a nice cost savings for operators.

Brookdale Senior Living (NYSE: BKD) is scaling up a pilot with ridesharing company Lyft, in an effort to create a resident transportation model that is more customer-friendly and operationally efficient.

Typically, senior living providers offer transportation to residents on a pre-scheduled basis. This is not ideal, Andrew Smith, director of strategy and innovation at Brookdale, said Tuesday at the Post Acute Link Care Continuum Conference in Chicago.

"It's not a good customer experience," he said. "We leave people stranded at the doctor's office for an hour because we're going to pick up the other resident who's getting dialysis."

Partnering with Lyft has started to solve this problem for Brentwood, Tennessee-based Brookdale. Now, residents at participating communities can request a Lyft ride through the community's concierge service, meaning they do not need to have a smartphone or navigate the app themselves, but still can enjoy on-demand transportation—not only to the doctor, but to run errands, go to the museum, visit family, or for any other purpose.

After starting in 10 communities last year, there now are 25 Brookdale locations offering the Lyft service. As the largest senior living provider nationally, Brookdale has about 1,100 communities nationwide, so the program might seem like a drop in the bucket. However, the potential for the partnership is substantial, and it is continuing to scale up now that the pilot has shown its effectiveness, Smith said.

While the program right now is available in independent living, its benefits could be even more striking for assisted living and memory care, he added. That's because transportation for these residents sometimes requires double labor: a driver and a caregiver to accompany and assist the resident. And the driver might have to be pulled from other job responsibilities at the community to provide the ride. So, replacing that driver with a Lyft worker would create workforce efficiencies. It also could make sense from a liability standpoint.

"Especially in the assisted living and memory care space, we sometimes have associates driving their own cars or residents' vehicles," Smith said. "So, we have to train the driver, get insurance on the vehicle, and [handle] all of the risk components as well as the administrative burden of keeping all of that up ... we like the idea of transferring some of that to Lyft."

All Lyft drivers are required to be insured, and Lyft provides an additional $1 million in auto and general liability on all rides, said Lyft Head of Elder Mobility Dan Trigub.

Brookdale currently is "experimenting" with the Lyft offering in assisted living and memory care, Smith said.

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