COVID-19 Lowering Occupancy in Skilled Nursing Facilities More Than Independent Senior Living Properties

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Occupancy rates have been declining in the senior housing sector since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Facilities providing higher levels of care are being hit harder than independent living properties, according to two recent reports by The National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care and Ziegler.

NIC Report

The highest-acuity facilities, those which cater to the most-needy residents, tend to have the largest drops in occupancy. In fact, the occupancy rate at skilled nursing facilities fell to 84.7% from March to April, according to a previous report by NIC. 

The latest NIC report reveals that occupancy in assisted living facilities fell to 85.2%, the lowest level on record as the COVID-19 crisis slowed the pace of move-ins in May. 

What are the reasons behind the lack of new move-ins?

  • Roughly two-thirds of organizations in the study chalked up the move-in slump to a slowdown in leads, conversions, and sales.
  • Half of the organizations cited concerns by residents or family members. 
  • Approximately one-quarter of survey respondents were affected by a mandatory government-imposed ban.

“There were some organizations that chose to impose bans on move-ins, because the risks of moving in someone were significant in terms of their potential to infect the rest of the population if they had the coronavirus,” said Beth Mace, NIC’s chief economist.

See the full survey results here.

Ziegler Study

Independent living occupancy levels were the least affected by COVID-19 in late June and early July, and skilled nursing occupancy levels were the most affected, according to the results of a new survey conducted by Ziegler, a specialty investment bank

Executives at approximately 240 providers, primarily not-for-profit life plan communities, responded to the latest Ziegler CFO Hotline poll between June 29 and July 7. Median occupancy in independent living during this time period was 93%, according to survey participants. By comparison, median occupancy was 88% in assisted living and memory care and 77% in skilled nursing.

“While there are some minor variations across regions, the occupancy by level of care is fairly consistent,” according to the report, which noted that occupancy decreased as residents’ care and service needs increased.

See the full survey results here.

How Can Sales and Marketing Teams Increase Occupancy Rates?

Successfully messaging your safety measures and quality care outcomes have never been more important to not only reassure potential residents and their families but also help you stand out against competitive facilities. Since falls are the leading cause of hospitalization for memory care patients, touting your fall prevention measures and outcomes can be a great sales and marketing tactic.

  • Spotlight how you use innovative technology to increase the quality of care. This demonstrates your leadership and appeals to adult children of prospective residents.
  • Promote your expertise in fall prevention since many residents’ move-ins are precipitated by a fall event. Highlight how your expertise allows you to give better care than your competitors.
  • Showcase your transparency and communication with families in the event of a fall event.
  • Promote how your fall prevention program allows residents to stay at the same level of care, thus decreasing the need for more transitions down the road.

Demonstrating your commitment to decreasing fall events and utilizing smart quality care technology like SafelyYou can be the deciding factor for a family choosing a facility for a loved one.

Helpful Links

SafelyYou Blog: COVID-19 Causes Occupancy Challenges for Senior Housing

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