Independent Living Expected to Expand

From fluctuating COVID measures to protecting and retaining workers, senior care facilities have continued to wrestle with a range of challenges.

By Dan Hounsell
May 9, 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic has created havoc in all healthcare organizations, and no sector of the market has felt the impact more than long-term care. From fluctuating masking and vaccination measures to protecting and retaining workers to combatting resident isolation, administrators and managers in these facilities have continued to wrestle with a range of major challenges. 

A lack of funding and ongoing staff burnout is playing a role into the likely closing of many senior care facilities by the end of the year. In addition, changes of ownership have been much more common in nursing homes than hospitals over the past six years. 

The news hasn’t been all bad, especially with a longer-term view of nursing home performance. Nursing home care has improved over the last decade, and more patients were coming to nursing homes for shorter stays and returning to their permanent residence.  

One segment of the senior-care sector that seems to be coming through the tumult of the last two years with relatively good prospects for the future is independent living. About one-half of long-term care executives recently surveyed about their care and service offering mix expect to increase their presence in independent living in the next year, according to the National Investment Center for Seniors House & Care. The NIC Wave 40 Executive Survey of senior living and skilled nursing operators also included insight into workforce challenges, lead volume and move-ins.  

Along with 54 percent of respondents indicating plans to increase independent living in their portfolios, 36 percent said they plan to increase the active adult segment, 33 percent plan to increase their presence in memory care, 31 percent said they will increase assisted living, and 21 percent said they expect to decrease their skilled nursing offerings in the next 12 months. 

Dan Hounsell is senior editor for the facilities market. He has more than 25 years of experience covering engineering, maintenance, and grounds management issues in institutional and commercial facilities. 

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