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Case for Success: Columbia Cottage

An exterior shot of a building at the Columbia Cottage Collegeville location

Horst has managed, operated, and owned senior care communities since 1998. Perhaps the best example of success, however, is our assisted living facility model called Columbia Cottage. We own and manage four very successful Columbia Cottage properties, which remain in the upper quartile of performance indicators year-over-year. These are living, breathing, thriving communities that successfully meet residents’ social and physical needs.

Our Columbia Cottage model for assisted living facility construction and management is notable because of its unique design, universal worker employment structure, and its focus on creating an intimate community.

We measure our impact through a range of success indicators, including the following:

  • Operating margins range from 23-30%
  • Occupancy is at or above 96% for the past 4-5 years
  • Outstanding resident and employee satisfaction surveys
  • Deficiency-free surveys
  • Low turnover in key leadership positions within the cottages

We believe one of our most telling signs of success, however, is happy residents willing to recommend Columbia Cottage to their friends and families. In our latest resident satisfaction survey, an average of 93% of residents said they would recommend Columbia Cottage to others. Because of the attention we pour into serving residents’ needs and in creating an optimal living environment, our residents would recommend their community to others who would be looking for an assisted living home.

How it works: assisted living construction

Horst was a pioneer in the assisted living construction industry in Pennsylvania. From the beginning, we wanted to build tight-knit communities that would allow seniors to age in place and to receive the level of care that fit their level of independence. (This runs contrary to the multi-story, institutionalized facilities model.) We spearheaded the template for building what would later be recognized as the qualifications for an assisted living facility.

To foster our small communities, Columbia Cottage buildings are single story, centralized around manicured courtyards and shared community spaces. We have a limited number of rooms, varying between 45 and 55 rooms, to allow residents the opportunity to build relationships with everyone within their residence. Our buildings are well-furnished and decorated to provide a comfortable home for residents.

How it works: operations

Horst Management Services recruits, hires, and trains staff – called “Homemakers” – to care for the residents. We use a Universal Care model, which allows our Homemakers to interact with residents in a variety of settings and roles. This deep level of interaction allows Homemakers to more easily anticipate a resident’s needs, recognize changes in behavior, and take action. This translates into proactive interventions and more dynamic care support plans for our residents’ safety and health.

As a part of managing operations, Horst Management Services evaluates advancements in industry procedures and amenities. Where appropriate, we adopt the advancements that will benefit residents and their communities. For Columbia Cottage, this means adding electronic health records to improve the continuity of care and care transition management. If a physician visits a resident, or if a resident goes to outside rehabilitative care, records are easily shared and updated. Horst Management Services is also implementing electronic time tracking. This helps owners monitor and control labor costs, but it also makes it easier for Homemakers to accurately track resident interactions as they happen.


Call us at 717-580-9850 or visit Columbia Cottage’s website to learn more.