Dwyer Workforce Development (DWD) on Wednesday announced the $590 million acquisition of a 50-property skilled nursing facility portfolio managed by Regency Integrated Health Services.
Capital Funding Group is joined by banks and a publicly traded real estate investment trust (REIT) in financing the acquisition of the Regency properties, Jack Dwyer told Skilled Nursing News. Dwyer, along with his wife and daughters, founded DWD in 2021. He also is founder, owner and president of Capital Funding Group.
Regency will continue to manage the facilities. While day-to-day operations will not change, the Texas-based portfolio will transition from a for-profit to a not-for-profit organization, and DWD will implement a model that Dwyer believes will be transformational in addressing the workforce crisis in senior housing and care.
“This is a revolutionary approach that has been in the works for a while, and we are so excited to see it finally come to fruition,” Dwyer said in a press release. “… We’re reinventing what it means to be a nonprofit because our solution isn’t one step – it’s comprehensive.”
Inside the DWD model
The Regency transaction moves forward a plan that Dwyer began to formulate about a year-and-a-half ago, after he saw how Covid-19 exacerbated the deep workforce challenges that have long plagued skilled nursing and senior living.
“At the end of the day, people do a lot of talking about it, and they do nothing about it … so I decided, you know what, I’m going to do something about this,” he told SNN.
Dwyer, his wife Nancy, and their daughters Emily and Kelsey established DWD as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Dwyer got the organization off the ground with $2 million in seed money and found a CEO in Barb Clapp, a Capital Funding Group board member.
The concept behind DWD is to provide wraparound services to advance the health care careers of individuals who demonstrate promise and interest but lack resources and support. For “Dwyer Scholars,” DWD provides financial support for needs ranging from housing and transportation to child care. A case manager works with Dwyer Scholars to identify career goals, create a plan for achieving these goals over time, and keep Scholars on track with the plan.
DWD also provides free certified nursing assistant (CNA) training and job placement in nursing homes and other senior care settings, and will also fund full scholarships for Scholars to pursue their Registered Nurse license or other advanced training and education.
The nonprofit initially launched in Maryland and is on track to have 250 Scholars involved by the end of 2022. The Scholars come to DWD through a variety of channels, Clapp told SNN.
For instance, some Scholars have come from programs in Baltimore City that identify and nurture people from grade school through high school, who may not be able to afford further education. Other Scholars have aged out of foster care, and some are women coming from organizations that have helped them through domestic violence or substance abuse issues. And DWD is also getting calls from a significant number of single-paycheck parents who have ambitions in health care.
“I’ve always gone by the belief that circumstance should not define us,” Clapp told SNN. “And we’re trying to make sure that circumstance doesn’t define Dwyer Scholars.”
Adding the Regency platform
Clapp and Dwyer were able to draw on their connections in Maryland to get DWD off the ground, enlisting support and participation from other nonprofits and the state. And while they are tapping into grants and other funding mechanisms, they expect that the cash flow from the Regency portfolio will create a reliable and important way to sustain and expand their mission.
Dwyer has been familiar with the facilities for years, having financed them in the past through Capital Funding Group. Knowing that they would be coming up for sale, he shared his vision with the owners, and they hammered out the deal over the course of many months. Going forward, the profits from the facilities will be invested into DWD’s mission.
Dwyer Scholars will not be limited to working in Regency facilities, but the arrangement should benefit the portfolio by creating new pathways for career development for employees. This should also result in improved retention and more consistent care for residents and patients, Dwyer said.
He also described upside to the Capital Funding Group business from the expansion of DWD.
“I have clients all throughout the country that think that this is the greatest thing since sliced bread, because here’s a guy who’s my lender, and he’s actually going to give me. [workers], he’s going to pay for their training, and then he’s going to pay for their college education,” he said. “How do you think that makes them feel — not only am I their lender, but I’m doing this for them?”
However, the Regency deal is not motivated primarily by financial gains to any of the business entities involved, he emphasized.
“Not everybody has to gain all the time,” he said. “People who are gaining are the people who live in neighborhoods that have no career path … and the people missing workers in their nursing homes.”
With DWD now active in Texas as well as Maryland, the organization is eyeing other states, Clapp said, noting that they are in discussions with certain states about doing workforce development JVs.
She and Dwyer are both entrepreneurs who are comfortable taking risks to grow, particularly given their passion for the DWD mission, she noted.
And professionals in the senior living and nursing home sectors — beset by workforce challenges — are excited about what DWD is trying to achieve and the progress the organization has made.
“When I was at the NIC conference last week, everybody wanted to talk to us,” Clapp said. “What I learned from people at the NIC — they’re able to do a little bit of this or a little bit of that, but they don’t have the resources to do this whole holistic approach.”
She sees the case management aspect of DWD particularly valuable, because Scholars might be more forthcoming with their case manager than their employer.
“They might not want to say, ‘I had a domestic violence incident last night, and I just can’t come to work,’” she said. “But they will tell us, and it’s something that then allows us to be more holistic in the approach of helping people.”
While the Regency acquisition is a major milestone for DWD, Clapp also is forthright about the need for more money and support to take the organization across the country.
“I want to be clear on the fact that we are looking for other resources; we are looking for grants, and we are looking for foundations to be involved, and states to be involved, so that we can make even more of an impact,” she said. “I don’t want people to look at [the Regency announcement] and think, gosh, they’re funded. We need a lot of money to make this work.”