The senior housing space experienced a very interesting year in 2018. On one hand, occupancy fell to an eight-year low and labor expenses are surging. On the other, construction costs are dropping and there is much promise that lies ahead with the baby-boomer generation getting closer to retirement age every day. Heading into 2019, here are the top trends to keep an eye on for the Senior Care industry going forward:
Importance of Data-Driven Marketing
In 2018, many operators found it difficult to connect with baby boomers and their generation X children (who will likely be part of the decision-making process). Marketing to two different generations sounds daunting. In reality, these generations both just want to make informed decisions, but they go about it differently. While baby boomers value older marketing resources, generation Xers are much more tech savvy.
Because of that, online reviews will become crucial to capturing a lead and getting a lead into your facility for a tour. While baby boomers prefer word-of-mouth testimonials, generation Xers will likely start their search online. That’s why operators should shift their attention to leveraging easy-access reviews sites like Google to promote positive stories about their community in order to capture new leads. Communities who work to improve their online reputation in 2019 will likely gain a better online foothold in their markets.
Medicare Advantage Policy Impacting Your Community
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid announced in April of 2018 that Medicare Advantage (MA) would be allowed to cover non-skilled, in-home care starting in 2019. This new policy opens up the possibility that senior living providers could start being reimbursed by MA for certain services that residents have traditionally paid for out of pocket.
Because of this new policy, many facilities are launching their own MA plans that offer wrap-around services to residents that can be billed to insurance. In theory, this can extend the length of stay, as residents stay healthier longer and spend less out of pocket. MA could also make senior living a more attractive partner to health care organizations.
Hiring Standard Will Continue to Rise
In the senior care industry, there is a huge need for experienced caregivers. This is thanks in large part to competitive labor markets and the pressure to recruit and retain workers without busting the budget. That will not change in 2019. What should change though, is how you go about recruiting and hiring talent.
Today, too many providers are competing against local fast food restaurants or retailers for unskilled laborers. Instead, providers should hold their workers to higher standards and offer them professional development so they feel empowered and have ownership over their responsibilities. Providers are responsible for creating a culture that attracts talented individuals who are passionate about senior care and have the talent and drive to increase the overall level of care. Not only will that help your bottom line, but less turnover can create continuity that can improve residents experience and help maintain occupancy rates.
Providing Multi-generational Living Situations
According to the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care, senior housing occupancy fell to an eight-year low in the third quarter of 2018. While experts believe this trend will be reversed, competition for aging baby-boomers is increasing by the day.
Some communities are evolving to meet the needs of boomers who are turned off by the notion of “senior living” by providing more “older adult” concepts. Others are fragmenting their senior housing market with multifamily developments. Because most seniors are living longer, they might delay entering an assisted independent living community. Instead, they are moving to new apartment complexes that offer smart-tech options and home care aides. In 2019, communities should take steps to improve their communities to compete with these intergeneration apartment complexes.
Now that you know what to look out for in 2019, it’s time to evaluate how your community is performing and make some decisions. If your facility needs assistance in improving online reach and getting more reviews, contact Goldn, LLC today. Call (888) 482-6691 ext. 1 to speak with a member of our team or email [email protected] to set up a free online reputation consultation.