Around the globe, healthcare firms target the aged
Much has been made of the aging baby boom population and its impact on senior services, which has fueled a boom in healthcare franchises. Several of these franchises are firmly planted on the Franchise Times Top 200, including newcomers like Right At Home (No. 199) and Visiting Angels (No. 141).
But the aging population isn’t just booming stateside. As such, international development has been key for many senior services’ business strategy.
Home Instead Senior Care, No. 78 on our ranking, has 373 locations in other countries to go along with its 638 domestic units. Comfort Keepers, No. 157, has 97 international locations in addition to its 690 U.S. units. And Right At Home has 30 international locations plus 351 domestic. And then, in September 2013, No. 92 Interim Healthcare joined that party when it acquired British senior care franchise Bluebird Care.
Bluebird has 180 locations in the United Kingdom, giving the Sunrise, Florida-based Interim a major international presence overnight. “We were convinced of the trends in demographics and demand for care,” said Kathleen Gilmartin, CEO of Interim. She noted the over-65 population would represent 23 percent of the population by 2020. “That’s huge. There’s going to be over 750 million people over 65 globally.”
The acquisition of Bluebird also represented s a risk for Interim. In the United Kingdom, Bluebird can provide homemaking and companion care that older residents pay for privately. The nationalized healthcare system only pays for skilled nursing care through government agencies and programs.
There’s a belief, however, that Britain will change those rules to enable private providers to give that care. By acquiring Bluebird, Gilmartin said, the company can train the company’s franchisees on skilled nursing ahead of those regulation changes to give them a running start. “I think it’s just a matter of time,” Gilmartin said. “Every other country is facing the same dilemma as the U.S.
“You need to provide the right care at the right cost in the right setting. And there are the same cost issues. It’s more economical to receive this care at home,” she says.