By Jonathan Bryant on Nov 19, 2019 7:24:00 AM
Does the future look bright for senior living? Unfortunately, we can’t know for sure, but one thing we can say for certain is that the industry has changed dramatically in recent years and will continue to evolve. And that evolution, in large part, will be thanks to these seven trends in senior living. Let’s take a look into what the future may hold.
Trend One: Medicare Advantage Coverage
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have announced that Medicare Advantage (MA) will now be allowed to cover non-skilled, in-home care. Game changer! This means that senior living providers could be reimbursed for some services that residents have paid for out of pocket in the past.
Senior Housing News reports that some providers are already leaping into action with Erickson Living and Sunrise Senior Living, launching their own MA plans that provide wrap-around services such as administering their insurance benefits in addition to housing and care.
How can this trend benefit you?
- It could extend the length of stay as residents may spend down assets more slowly.
- Senior living may become more attractive to hospitals, which are incentivized to keep their patients out of the emergency room and other high-cost inpatient settings.
- There will be more opportunities to work with private insurance companies that offer MA plans.
Trend Two: Mergers & Acquisitions Heat Up
Although they slowed in 2018, It’s doesn’t look like REITs are on break for long. Wonder where they vacation? Anyhow, large private equity deals may be back on the horizon as some senior living providers seem poised to trim from their portfolio, and others are experiencing operational and financial trouble that could force the issue. This is one trend to keep an eye on if, and when, shakeups start to happen.
Trend Three: Staffing Struggles
Those of us in senior living know all too well the struggle of recruiting and retaining quality employees in recent years, and there appears to be no end in sight. The competitiveness of today’s labor market is becoming increasingly expensive, forcing higher wages for unskilled workers, higher turnover-related costs, and operational inefficiencies. What’s more, senior living providers now have to compete in the same labor pool as retailers and fast-food restaurants. Caring for seniors and helping to enrich their lives is in no way similar! Thus, it’s no surprise to find a disconnect there.
What can you do? Senior Housing News believes a shift in mindset is needed; that providers should create and promote an exciting, engaging workplace culture where people with talent and passion can succeed with professional development and growth opportunities.
Trend Four: The Young Senior
No, it’s not an oxymoron. Some senior living providers and some new players are going after the younger boomer demographic. Senior Housing News reports that active adult concepts such as Margaritaville are giving these boomers new options that are more appealing than traditional senior living. In addition, Altria Senior Living is partnering with Related Companies to bring a luxury senior housing brand to major metro areas.
What does this mean? If you’re a traditional independent living and/or assisted living provider, you could be looking at suppressed occupancy rates going forward if these concepts take off.
Trend Five: Street Cred
Credibility as a top senior living provider is a great thing, especially when it’s by the likes of a J.D. Power or other reputable third-party source. Your prospects respond to that. It helps them to feel more confident in you and in themselves for choosing your community. Plus, it can help boost the image of senior living overall as long as we all keep our acts together quality-wise!
Recognition, especially from third-party sources, is new for our industry. BUT, while welcome, the burden of staying ‘on top’ in the multitude of honors, certifications, and endorsements from in and outside the industry can be taxing on your resources to qualify and apply.
Trend Six: Data-Driven Marketing
The days of marketing at your audience are over; no more we’re bigger, we’re better, and we have all these features. Consumers are too savvy now. Senior living providers must market to the specific needs of their audience – and have the data to back it up in order to bring in prospects.
What can you do? Think more word of mouth in the way of your residents and families sharing their authentic experiences, via social for example. And you have to be more than just a pretty face, so to speak. Your prospects also want to hear specifics on your quality – readmission rates, falls, and so on.
Trend Seven: Technology Tools
Seniors are living longer, healthier lives, and as such, don’t feel like they ‘belong’ in senior living yet. Technology is feeding into this trend with the onslaught of smart home devices and on-demand services that are helping them with everything from staying connected with friends and family to health monitoring, to safety to home services and transportation. As a result, seniors are able to remain in their homes for longer periods of time, even when they need a little help.
What can you do? Flip the narrative by incorporating technology into your communities as part of your amenities package. Or, use it wherever you can to increase the efficiency of your own operations.
But, you can also put technology to use in one of your very first touch-points with your prospects. Utilizing technology such as a live chat service on your website is an ideal way to engage with prospects at the moment they are learning about the benefits of senior living.
Here’s an example from an actual SiteStaff senior living chat that shows how it works:
16:20:16: Visitor: I was wondering if you accept patients coming out of the hospital due to Covid-19? This Thursday will be 14 days since she tested positive. Needs rehab since she has been lying in bed for over 2 weeks.
16:21:02: Amanda: That is a great question and our Sales Director will be able to confirm this with you and also give you an idea of our current availability. Is this for a family member or are you helping a friend?
16:21:17: Visitor: my mom
16:21:48: Amanda: I am sorry to hear about what your mom has been going through. It is great that she has been recovering and is on the mend. I am sure this hasn't been easy for you and your family.
16:21:52: Amanda: May I ask, with whom I have the pleasure of chatting today?
16:22:13: Visitor: ********
Using technology in this way can help your prospects to feel more comfortable and confident in taking that next step towards occupancy.
Source: Senior Housing News [https://seniorhousingnews.com/2019/01/06/top-senior-housing-trends-for-2019/]