Lutheran Life Communities Senior Living

This senior living capital planning project was successfully completed with the guidance of the zumBrunnen team in Illinois.

the challenge

The COVID-19 pandemic was an equal opportunity disrupter to the Senior Living Industry. Few organizations or people have come through that time-period without a before COVID and after COVID story. Lutheran Life Communities is no different.

Lutheran Life Communities, a four-community senior living provider with 949 apartment capacity through CCRC and skilled nursing product across Illinois and Indiana, was facing major financial headwinds in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, like many providers in the industry. With clinical labor and other operating costs increasing and reimbursement revenues remaining stagnant, the organization’s margins were reduced sharply.

“Our margins have declined significantly as a result of the pandemic. We have seen our clinical care wages increase approximately 30% from the beginning of the pandemic and our revenue streams have not increased anywhere near that,” said Dan Noonan, CFO at Lutheran Life Communities.

The Lutheran Life Communities Leadership team, including Noonan and Anel Kulasic, Vice President of Facilities and Construction, recognized the need for an operational and financial turnaround plan. A key part of that plan was understanding their deferred capital expenditure needs through an independent study.

the zumBrunnen solution

“We needed to have outside talent assemble the data and help us understand where we stood from a capital investment perspective. It is invaluable for us to have this information,” said Kulasic. “It shortens the amount of time for us to gather the data and it’s infinitely more efficient than to try to perform that work in-house.”

After evaluating multiple firms, Lutheran Life selected zumBrunnen based on their industry-leading reputation, analytical rigor, and credibility with industry stakeholders. While more expensive than competitors, leadership felt the investment was critical.

“We knew zumBrunnen by reputation. We wanted a good thorough analysis, and we were paying for your reputation as a firm that would deliver. That was really important to us, especially when we shared this data with our stakeholders,” Noonan stated.

The zumBrunnen team spent significant time evaluating Lutheran Life’s four communities – some locations for three to four days given their size. The firm’s professionals collaborated closely with Lutheran Life’s on-site Building Service Directors to gather historical data and build accurate life cycle projections.

The resulting analysis uncovered deferred capital needs and provided a critical roadmap for prioritizing initiatives to extend equipment life and maximize the investment of capital dollars.

While speaking about the final Capital Reserve Analysis, Kulasic explained, “It allows me to validate in real time what I’m finding and combining those two data points allows me to plan forward for our capex investments. It is an invaluable tool in that sense because it does speed up the process for me.”

lutheran life communities senior living zumbrunnen

Lutheran Life’s leadership found the zumBrunnen partnership invaluable in their turnaround efforts. The team’s expertise, thoroughness and responsiveness paid dividends while allaying any concerns about accuracy or completeness of the findings.

In the end, Lutheran Life gained critical insights into its capital needs backed by an unbiased, third-party expert analysis. This data continues to guide the organization’s budget planning and financial recovery and is well worth the investment according to Noonan.

“It was a great experience working with zumBrunnen – Doug McMillan and his team are great to work with and Rob Milam is super responsive as well. They are a top-notch organization, and that’s why zumBrunnen has such a great reputation,” Noonan said.

Rob Milam, CEO commented that “zumBrunnen provided clarity on Lutheran Life’s future capital needs and made projections on capital spending. The company also provided funding models for each of Lutheran Life’s four communities to support our spending recommendations.”

“zumBrunnen’s objective was to present Lutheran Life with capital projections that are realistic, easy to digest, and where the path to implementation is clear. I believe we accomplished that,” Milam added.

The zumBrunnen team combines decades of engineering, construction management, and field expertise to deliver excellence on every project. Whether Construction Monitoring, Capital Reserve Analyses or Property Condition Assessments, we take a client-centered partnership approach, developing longstanding relationships based on mutual respect, earned trust, and complete transparency. With industry knowledge, ingenuity and adaptability, zumBrunnen is the preferred provider for clients across senior living, student housing, multifamily and beyond. At zumBrunnen, We Solve Problems By Preventing Them.

“It was a great experience working with zumBrunnen. They are a top-notch organization, and that’s why zumBrunnen has such a great reputation.”

Dan Noonan
CFO at Lutheran Life Communities

Complex Senior Living Construction Management Projects Need Experts to Help Teams Collaborate and Perform their Best

  • multiple stakeholders

    Managing large-scale retirement community projects involves specialized facilities, funding, and teams of people to complete the project successfully. With so many factors, it is easy to overlook details or miscommunicate. zumBrunnen utilizes its decades of experience to help teams work together toward successful project completion on time and budget.

  • safety is a top priority

    With hundreds of staff and elderly living in the community, it is a priority to keep them safe and operational without any surprises. The zumBrunnen team understands the dynamics of senior living communities and is able to facilitate the progress of projects without risking the day-to-day operations and life quality of the residents.

  • specialized buildings and facilities

    Due to the comprehensive nature of amenities offered at senior living care facilities, specialized teams and contractors are brought in for various projects. Residential apartments may be stick-built and use a traditional multi-family construction approach while skilled nursing facilities require specialized healthcare facility construction. Having a team of experts that understand the best practices of each is a must.