Maintaining and increasing resident occupancy numbers is the key to success for any senior living community. Senior living communities face an unprecedented crisis as one of the earliest and hardest hit industries of the COVID-19 pandemic. As senior living facility leaders are looking for solutions to help them emerge from the pandemic in a strong position, they turn to resident occupancy numbers for answers.
In 2021 and beyond, growth will be the name of the game. In order to rebound from the lost revenue and reputational impact generated by falling resident occupancy numbers, senior living communities must seek out new tech solutions that can achieve the fundamental goals of any successful senior living facility: to improve resident quality of life and to provide exceptional resident care. Eversound, an innovative headphone solution for seniors, hits on both fronts. However, it’s essential to determine whether Eversound is the right solution for your senior living community.
This essential guide will break down the senior living industry’s current state and how Eversound can help increase resident occupancy numbers in your senior living community.
The State of Senior Living Communities
The senior living industry is currently in a state of transition, bookended by the start and emerging end of the COVID-19 pandemic. First, it’s crucial to consider two opposing facts that will most strongly influence senior living community occupancy in the future.
- The COVID-19 pandemic ravaged senior living communities. The infectious nature of the disease and the close-knit community of older adults caused the disease to spread quickly early on. Moreover, the dense population of 65 and older adults in senior living communities fueled the high rate of fatal cases among seniors.
- The senior community is growing at an exponential rate. Some estimates predict that the aging population will face a 17% increase worldwide. In normal circumstances, this would indicate a secure source of growth for the senior living industry, as more seniors translates to an increased need for assisted living.
That said, senior living community resident occupancy rates dropped drastically in 2020. Although, the increasing senior population and the current vaccination campaign against the COVID-19 virus should point to an occupancy rate rebound. However, senior living communities cannot rely on these facts as the sole solution to their falling occupancy rates. There is a more glaring obstacle to overcome:
Trust in senior living communities has significantly decreased.
The first U.S. outbreak of the COVID-19 virus occurred in a Washington state nursing home. Only a few weeks later, it became clear that older adults were at a substantially increased risk for severe complications from the disease. Many states were slow to enact sweeping social distancing and protective measures against the disease. As a result, there were many resident losses. Concerned family members had to make difficult decisions, most commonly deciding to remove their loved ones from their senior living community. This phenomenon has been documented across the country, per the Associated Press:
“Lisa Kossoudji, who supervises nurses at Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton, pulled her own mother, now 95, out of assisted living and brought her home to live with her after the pandemic hit. She had gone weeks without seeing her mother and was worried that her condition was deteriorating because she was being restricted to her room as the facility sought to limit the potential for the virus to spread.”
Almost a full year later, and the damage is still being felt. A recent survey showed that families were wary of placing their loved ones in senior living communities, with 94% of responders stating their intention of waiting a minimum of 3 months to make the final decision about whether to enroll their loved one.
The fear of not being able to connect with their loved ones and the danger of the virus has taken a toll on families who, in normal circumstances, would have placed their loved ones in a senior living community. As a result, resident occupancy numbers have decreased as residents are being taken out of communities and families are hesitant to place their loved ones in assisted living.
Increasing Resident Occupancy: The Healthcare First Model
Senior living community operators must implement a healthcare first business model to overcome the negative effect the pandemic has had on resident occupancy. Where previously, selling senior living to consumers (read: families) was about underscoring the social engagement and luxury a senior living community could provide, the pandemic has made safety the most important factor in many families’ decision-making process.
Families want to have peace-of-mind when they place their loved ones in a senior living community. They want to ensure that their loved ones will be safe and well-taken care of. Through the healthcare-first business model, operators can position their senior living community as one that can fulfill these desires.
However, to successfully implement the healthcare first business model, businesses will have to harness the power of new tech solutions that are designed to address and improve the health issues that are most common among older adults. With multiple effective vaccines currently being administered, the endgame is now. Senior living communities must invest in their residents’ care and safety first and foremost.
Understanding the health issues that are most commonly experienced by older adults is essential to providing effective and adequate care. Some of the most common health problems that the senior community members faces includes:
- Walking and other mobility disabilities can make moving from room-to-room or performing a simple task a herculean feat.
- Vision and hearing disabilities can cause difficulty performing everyday tasks. Additionally, these disabilities can make it challenging to obtain a license renewal, eliminating the freedom of personal transportation.
- Older adults are more likely to live alone or in group quarters. Over 11% of those over the age of 85 live in some form of an assisted living facility.
- Isolation, depression, and anxiety are all common mental health problems experienced by the older adult population.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted seniors?
As we adjust to the “new normal,” it’s critical to document and understand how the pandemic has, in many cases, worsened the health problems faced by older adults. These health problems will only continue to impact older adults, so senior living facilities making the transition to a healthcare first model must learn how to provide effective care for the new more serious side effects of these healthcare issues. Here’s a breakdown of how the pandemic has intensified the negative effects of some senior health problems:
- The pandemic has worsened senior mental health problems such as isolation, due to social distancing requirements.
- Without being able to receive or make visits to loved ones, elderly care residents suffered from anxiety and depression. Families have also suffered without being able to see their loved ones. Many families have gone out of their way to connect with their older loved ones in unconventional ways.
- Masks, now commonplace, exacerbated communication difficulties experienced by those with hearing loss who may have previously relied on reading lips. Additionally, masks have a muffling effect on voices, making it even more difficult to hear.
- Social engagement and activities have been reduced in senior living homes, reducing quality of life.
- Due to social distancing measures and older adults at-risk status, many seniors have encountered disruptions to their care.
When considering these effects, shifting to the healthcare first model to prioritize resident safety and wellbeing benefits just makes sense. It’s a model that is designed to consider, address, and treat the effects health problems residents experience. However, this does not mean luxury and engagement go out the window. It’s a matter of adopting the right technology that demonstrates a commitment to both safety and experience in a senior living community. That’s where Eversound comes in.
The Eversound Occupancy Solution
Positioning your senior care facility as one that can serve the elderly population’s distinct needs starts by demonstrating your commitment to taking the healthcare first approach. The best way to do so is to invest in tech solutions that are designed to serve the elderly. More specifically, a tech investment that meets the unique needs of the senior community. Any healthcare-first tech investment must succeed on two counts: