30 Apr
Is Aging-in-Place the Future of Senior Living?
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We are at a pivot point in consumer expectations. Today’s active senior wants to live where and how they want. A new independent living resident increasingly desires to live in a residential setting and have care and services brought to them. The continuum of care model is designed to work the opposite of this growing trend. The question is, do you embrace the aging in place trend and adjust the continuum of living on your campus or do you work to minimize its impact on your distinct levels of living? There is no one right answer.  

Here are several key considerations to evaluate.  

Physical Accommodations

Embracing aging in place may require an adjustment to more universal design principles to accommodate residents in the same unit for a longer time. This includes features like accessible kitchen counters and cabinets, wider doorways, lever-style door handles, and grab bars in bathrooms, to name a few. This change is more easily accommodated in new communities than retrofitting existing campuses but could be accomplished through phased redevelopment.  

Integration of Home- and Community-Based Services

Many independent living residents in life plan communities are already bringing third-party home care services into their apartment or cottage. Should the owner directly provide those services to capture the revenue, or continue to transfer residents to care settings? These are tough questions to answer with both rewards and pitfalls.  

Implications to the Business Model

Aging in place tends to extend lengths of stay and produce more stable occupancy, but it may include some hidden costs. Entrance fee life care communities embracing aging-in-place may face lower turnover entrance fees, which reduces annual cash flows. As time passes and independent living residents receive more care in their units, your independent living slowly begins to mimic assisted living. Creating strategies to mitigate these future risks is critical to addressing the aging-in-place trend.

Effects on Staffing

The aging-in-place trend could result in even more of a challenge with staffing. While a campus previously held all assisted living residents in one centralized space, the new model may result in residents being more wide-spread across the campus – resulting in the need for more staff to effectively work in a decentralized approach. There could be an increased need for skilled professionals with flexible scheduling and cross-training of team members to better serve residents.  

The aging-in-place trend is not addressed in a one-size-fits-all solution set; certain solutions may work for some, and not work for others. Providers may even find themselves offering a continuum of care that includes both traditional residential options and aging-in-place services to appeal to a broader range of consumers. This is one of the many trends we look forward to discussing with clients and providers at The Greystone Event this June – join us to be part of the discussion.

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