The start of the year is an exciting time because we’re open and motivated to accept new opportunities, trends and ideas. However, there are also new challenges to be tackled. Like never before, senior living communities need to prepare for change because of uncertainty in the industry. Too many changes are happening too fast. New trends and technologies emerge with unparalleled speed and old proven techniques stop working.
In November 2019, Health Dimensions Group published a report called “Top Trends in Aging Services: Preparing for Historic Changes”. Here’s a quick overview of what’s in it.
The Need for Low- and Middle-Income Senior Living Is Increasing
Baby boomers are aging, which means that in the next decade, the USA will see an increase of seniors aged over 75 who have middle or low income. The senior living industry will need to adjust and provide new solutions to serve large numbers of new seniors whose financial resources are limited in terms of the type of care and accommodation they can cover.
The increase of low-income older adults who’re going to need comprehensive care will impact state and federal budgets. It will also create new challenges for all kinds of organizations whose aim is to help seniors to have a better quality of life in their communities.
There already are care models, such as PACE (Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly), which can be a great deal of help for eligible older adults. The program offers comprehensive care that helps participants to live in the community and postpone moving to institutional long-term care.
As for assisted living facilities and other types of senior living, they will need to come up with ways to offer more affordable care for this group of seniors. These solutions could include:
- Coming up with more affordable models of care
- Tweaking expectations of return for services aimed at middle-income seniors
- Exploring cost-effective construction alternatives
- Rethinking the use of existing real estate
- Exploring new partnership opportunities
- Leveraging technology to increase efficiency
Despite our growing senior population, maintaining occupancy remains a challenge, particularly in saturated markets. In the second quarter of 2019, occupancy took a plunge to 87.8%, which is the lowest level since 2011. Because even the oldest baby boomers are still below the average assisted living resident age, 2020 will be a difficult year for communities struggling with occupancy. Conducting detailed demographic research and combining it with financial analysis will help senior living facilities to move forward and tweak their model according to future supply and demand.
Staff shortages and turnover are a big issue in the senior living industry. With healthcare unemployment rates being as low as 2%, assisted living communities find it harder than ever to find qualified and trustworthy care staff. Stricter immigration controls, rising rates per hour and fierce competition add to the problem.
Another staff challenge senior living communities are facing is navigating through a variety o work cultures, as currently there are five generations working (from the silent generation to Generation Z). These differences in employees’ views and expectations can be difficult to manage. That’s why communities need to offer flexibility and advancements, as well as utilize social media to connect with the right audience and build awareness.
Call for Outstanding Customer Experience
All of the above-mentioned challenges mean that your assisted living community needs to offer the very best to continue making profits and survive. Like never before, prospective residents and their families are looking for the best possible quality of service.
2020 is the year to differentiate your facility in the marketplace and invest in improving literally everything, from amenities and quality public spaces to better use of technology. Think better and friendlier service, higher quality of accommodation and care, more spaces to alleviate depression and improve socialization, smart watches to monitor residents’ health and track movement of residents of the Memory Care unit, and partnerships with related service providers. The list of ideas goes on!
These are only a few of senior living trends and challenges we expect to see in 2020. The bottom line is that only those who thrive to provide a great service and market their community effectively will be able to benefit from the change.