COVID-19 and the resulting economy continue to have an impact on senior living. According to Enquire’s report of 2,200 communities, the month of May saw year-over-year decreases of 27 percent for inquiries, 65 percent for initial tours, and 51 percent for move-ins. The pandemic is also having a major effect on a key value proposition that senior living has historically relied on – lifestyle.
Senior living communities offer socialization and activities that are unparalleled in any other communal living environment for aging adults. Unlike a market-rate apartment, senior living communities offer all residents the opportunity to meet and mingle with their peers. They provide the activities that positively impact a variety of key facets for residents’ well-being. Educational courses keep the mind nimble and alert, entertainment provides enjoyment, fitness classes provide for physical wellness, interest clubs provide friendships, and chapel services feed the soul.
All of these benefits have been impacted over the past 90 days. With stay-at-home orders, social distancing requirements, and banning non-essential visitors, the lifestyle we have developed, cultivated, and marketed over decades has had to be completely reinvented. Fortunately, the best-providers have found innovative ways to keep their residents engaged in the active lifestyle they have come to expect.
There has been an increased use of virtual and online resources. Video conferencing keeps residents in contact with family near and far. In fact, some families are enjoying even greater contact with each other as staff become more involved by providing assistance with and coordination of digital communication. Education and entertainment continue with virtual classes, online concerts, plays, art exhibits, and even happy hour.
Social distancing has not eliminated activities and visits. Instead, creativity reigns in senior living as activities such as hallway bingo, fitness classes, and interest clubs (with spots marked every six feet) continue to provide for the well-being and customer experience that sets the industry apart. In-person visits with families are still happening, too – they have just moved outdoors.
In the end, the lifestyle of senior living has continually evolved as residents’ needs and demands have changed with the times and the generations. Today, Wi-Fi and happy hours are the norm. Tomorrow will need to be met with creativity, ingenuity, and a continued focus on residents’ needs and interests.
If you have questions or if HDG can assist you in your senior care or living community’s COVID-19 management, response or reopening planning, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 763.537.5700. Additionally, to assist senior care and living providers in preparing for and responding to COVID-19, as well as planning for reopening, Health Dimensions Group has created a Skilled Nursing & Senior Living COVID-19 Response & Resource Center which is available for your use.
Authored by: Cindy Olson
Vice President, Consulting Services