One year after COVID-19 upended everyone’s lives, a growing number of older Americans have been vaccinated or are scheduling their shots. At the same time, pandemic restrictions are being lifted in many areas.
So, where do senior living professionals go from here? We investigated and identified three unmistakable senior living trends we feel will affect the industry in the months and years ahead. Keep them in mind as you tweak your senior living marketing plan in 2021.
1. Increased focus on wellness
As Where You Live Matters, a consumer outreach effort spearheaded by the American Seniors Housing Association (ASHA), explains, the dimensions of wellness include emotional, physical, intellectual, occupational, spiritual, and social.
Not all senior living communities are the same. While some concentrate their efforts on providing care, Senior Housing News sees a shift toward resident wellness. It’s the first of our three senior living trends for 2021.
SHN highlighted some statistics from a report released by the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA) that surveyed senior living professionals about active aging industry trends. About 60% of respondents said their communities will be based in a wellness lifestyle with options for care, rather than the other way around.
Furthermore, respondents said their communities will be wellness-oriented by 2023, with the following programs as the focus:
- Education/lifelong learning
- Exercise (instructor-led and tech-based)
- Health education and disease management
- Food and nutrition education/preparation
- Intergenerational programs linking youth and older adults
2. Growing use of technology
Many industries are undergoing a technology transformation prompted by the coronavirus pandemic. Senior living is among them. What started as a pivot to virtual meetings and events when community tours and visits ended, has evolved into something permanent.
This brings us to our second senior living trend for this upcoming year. It’s the increased incorporation of technology throughout operations to benefit both staff and residents. According to industry news outlet McKnight’s Senior Living, participants in the ICAA Forum last November discussed ways to “future-proof” the profession. They included:
- Providing internet service, software, and hardware both indoors and outdoors
- Outfitting rooms with remote monitoring and voice-activated systems, and
- Offering in-house channels in living and service areas
These are all features future residents are looking for. Senior living communities that want to remain competitive and increase their occupancy will incorporate them.
3. Strengthening the workforce
The third critical senior living trend we’re seeing? Initiatives designed to improve the industry workforce’s quality, growth, and retention. Many communities have experienced severe staff shortages because of the pandemic.
However, there’s hope. In a recent Forbes article, “Trends and Predictions for the Senior Care Industry in 2021,” author Marina Aslanyan – the CEO of a company providing workforce management solutions for post-acute care and senior living organizations – says the industry has faced the challenges presented by the pandemic remarkably well.
Aslanyan anticipates a hiring surge, based on the 33% employee turnover rate in Argentum’s 2020 Workforce Trends Report. “We’ve seen turnover rates exceeding 70% among caregiving staff in many skilled nursing facilities,” she said. These have been driven by various factors, including the need to care for family members and attempts to protect their own health.
In order to slow the flood of employee departures, offer flexible hours, higher pay, and, where possible, remote work, suggests MedBest, a national executive search firm for the senior living industry.
More change is coming
At last, the U.S. is slowly emerging from the coronavirus pandemic. Professionals and leaders in the businesses that were hit the hardest – particularly senior living – are taking stock and setting a course for the future.
Meanwhile, the three unmistakable senior living trends we’ve examined will play a significant role in how successfully communities move forward.
Fortunately, you don’t have to figure this all out on your own. LeadingResponse partners with senior living owners, operators, and executives across the country to boost occupancy. Get in touch today to learn more about how we can help your organization gain market share, both now and in the future.
Because there’s no better time to start growing.