You have seen many industries endure ‘speed bumps’ over the last few weeks, and the senior housing sector is one of them. With older adults at high-risk of complications from COVID-19, many senior living communities have placed restrictions on visitors – yet also done an amazing job of engaging their residents in some fun and innovative ways (just follow Atria at Foster Square on Facebook for serious inspiration!). Yet the same safety precautions that are protecting current residents appear to be deterring new ones, according to some recent statistics from Senior Housing News.
Year-over-year, consumer inquiries into senior housing decreased 41% in April, while move-ins were down 22%. Not surprisingly, states that have been harder hit by the pandemic such as New York saw even greater declines in interest for independent senior living communities. Nationwide, assisted living and memory care facilities experienced a 40% decrease in new resident activity compared to this period 12 months ago. Interestingly, rural communities such as some in Illinois, actually experienced a 61% increase in senior housing inquiries year-over-year, likened to the fact these areas were much lesser impacted by COVID-19 as a whole.
While the short-term impact on senior living options may be painful – the long-term outlook is still very positive. The National Real Estate Investor points out that the “coronavirus is creating industrywide uncertainty in the short-term” while “the long-term outlook for seniors housing remains positive.” Declines in leasing activity are a reflection of the lack of people deciding to move as a whole right now, and a result of the inability to tour senior communities on account of sheltering in place protocol, distancing measures and risk to current residents (making physical tours almost entirely unavailable).
Does this mean that communal living environments are going to be less desirable in a post-pandemic society? While industry experts cannot say for certain, the overall agreement is no! Move-outs have actually decreased year-over-year by 15%, confirming confidence in senior living environments even amidst times of immense challenge. Furthermore, the experiences gained and protocol put into place by current events are more likely to emphatically equip facilities for the future. Outcomes are likely to include better supply chain management, re-assessment of social distancing protocol guidelines and usage, increased food delivery service options and less density in new property design. Other changes may include actions to ensure that healthy seniors stay out of hospitals – such as suspending the 3-day patient hospitalization rule prior to moving individuals into skilled nursing facilities. Furthermore, the staff support and morale boosts offered to residents in senior communities is a service that is virtually impossible to replicate for seniors living at home alone.
In short, industry experts expect that senior communities under the oversight of engaged, experienced owner-operators will triumph in the long-term with resiliency, modifications and progress towards serving our adults population in the best ways that we know how.
All my best,
NAR Instructor….“Designations Create Distinctions”
CIPS, SRS, ABR, CRS, SRES, GRI, CLHMS,
REI, AHWD, RSPS, MSLG
Bobbi Decker & Associates fully supports the principles of the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Opportunity Act. For more information, please visit: http://portal.hud.gov/