By Len Segel, Director of Senior Living
After attending the recent LeadingAge national conference, one thing is clear – COVID has shaken senior living and will continue to be a major cause of concern in the upcoming months. As the nation works through the challenges heightened by the pandemic, we should be mindful of other shifts taking place in senior living. While a number of these topics have already been points of discussion for KEPHART, we wanted to share our top takeaways from the conference.
- COVID, COVID, COVID. As the virus continues to worsen throughout the country, seniors continue to be disproportionately affected. Hope is on the way with a vaccine arriving as soon as December, yet the virus has exposed some flaws in the institutional makeup of nursing homes that will be addressed in the coming years.
- Senior living is being spotlighted like never before, gaining the attention of the general public, government agencies, and legislators. The silver lining is that much needed resources and changes will be more forthcoming for the senior living industry.
- Employees are the key to success… and they are struggling. Existing staff members are overworked and burnt out, and efforts to recruit new staff are not working well. Architects can help combat this by designing better work environments for these crucial caregivers.
- New developments and renovations of senior living communities are largely on hold for the next six months. However, the Baby Boomers are still going to flood the senior living market. Investment financing is anticipated to free up in 2021 to capitalize on this boom.
- In terms of developing new senior living communities, the for-profit sector continues to out-pace the not-for-profit sector. A key difference between the two is that more innovative ideas are coming from the mission-driven not-for-profit sector.
- Operators and managers need to be more nimble than ever before. The pandemic has accelerated changes, such as improvements in the delivery of health care, food service, retention of employees and even strategic planning. Administrators are facing critical decisions just to maintain the life of their communities for the next six months.
- Architects are focused on infection control. There are immediate solutions and longer-term solutions being identified and it’s up to operators to determine which will work best for their populations and how to finance the improvements.
- The technology revolution has arrived. While personal contact feeds the spirit, the ease of computer connectivity is revolutionizing the delivery of all services for residents and staff.
- Seniors overwhelmingly prefer staying in their homes and having healthcare services come to them, delaying their move into senior communities. Eventually, there will be a flood of people who will need the high levels of care that cannot be provided at home. Senior living companies are beginning to prepare for that.
- The biggest take-away from the LeadingAge conference is the significance of the services that senior living communities and their employees are providing. Their role in society has never been more highly valued.
If you have questions about our takeaways from the LeadingAge conference, or would like to learn more about senior living at KEPHART, give us a call at 303-832-4474. We’d love to chat with you!