COVID-19 Causes Occupancy Challenges for Senior Housing

Senior Housing

As states begin to reopen, the senior housing sector is dealing with its share of challenges and adapting to a new normal. An interesting research report, “Beyond the Global Health Crisis,” from Marcus & Millichap Research Services takes a closer look at the numerous changes senior housing providers are making to manage the pandemic as it faces near-term uncertainty.

Although the long-term effects of COVID-19 are still unknown, providers are adapting and addressing the current needs of their staff and residents by:

  • prioritizing frontline healthcare workers’ needs in order to keep seniors safe and healthy, while still facing challenges surrounding labor and supply shortages
  • enhancing staffing and infection control protocols
  • boosting inventories of personal protection equipment (PPE) and altering isolation practices

The report’s authors predict that occupancy rates will erode in the near term, but it is safe to say that occupancy levels will bounce back in the long term as the increased levels of care many aging seniors require makes “families realize they are unable to appropriately care for loved ones during a crisis.”

With this in mind, some providers are pivoting their focus from active independent living and assisted living to a healthcare-focused strategy in response to the pandemic. It has been a stressful time for many families since they have been providing care for their loved ones at home. Many will be looking to assisted living and nursing homes for guidance and respite from the pressure. It will be essential for providers to counsel and ease the minds of family members as they cope with a loved one in declining health, whether cognitive or physical. 

The pandemic has certainly ushered in a new set of challenges for senior housing providers. However, the outlook is positive because providers will find ways to adapt and shift their strategies by focusing on creative new ways to support families and keep their loved ones safe.