By Steve Moran
- By the end of January 2021, the COVID vaccine will be widely available to senior living communities. In addition, while there is fear today that people will not take the vaccine, as people see it is safe and saving lives, most people will take the vaccine.
- That for a few months, early access to the vaccine will become a significant marketing tool for senior living organizations. This will be a new and life-saving, life-extending benefit to living in senior living. In fact, with vaccine access so close, it is hard to imagine why anyone would move into senior living if they did not get the vaccine at or before move-in.
- Very large senior living organizations will continue to struggle. These organizations have invested so much money and emotional energy into their systems that, even though they are way underperforming in the current terrible market conditions, they continue to stick with what isn’t working.
- Telemedicine is here to stay. If there is one single positive that has come out of the pandemic it is that telemedicine has moved from the fringe to mainstream. It saves the system money, keeps residents in the community, and protects their safety.
- We will see new and better models of senior living begin to take hold. These models will have a variety of flavors with one thing in common. They will be targeting population groups that are either underserved or not served at all. People who have more modest means; people who are really seeking a purposeful lifestyle; people who want intergenerational living.
- Residential Senior Living will be recognized as a significant part of the senior living ecosystem. I have written and talked quite a bit about this model of senior living and mostly it is dismissed as being so small as to not have any impact on the market. But consider this, there are more than 40,000 licensed small communities across the country. They average 6 residents per community. That is 240,000 residents or about 15% of the total resident population of large senior living communities.
It has a lot going for it that large communities don’t.
- Non-senior living, senior-focused living environments will become a bigger threat. Homecare has been around for a long time and is one of the things people do to avoid senior living. “CCRCs without walls” have had some limited success. What I see coming are alternatives that are multi-generational, and more targeted at younger, lifestyle-seeking, older people who want to age in that same environment.
- Luxury senior living has topped out. One of the craziest phenomena in senior living is the desire to do bigger, fancier senior living communities. On one hand, I get it. Tremendous pride of ownership and, when they get everything right in the perfect market, the bottom line is huge. The problem is that it does zero to expand the size of the market. It simply scavenges residents from other luxury communities.
Even when someone builds a new luxe community, it will come at the expense of other luxe communities in the area.
- The existing great divide will become more visible. There are some organizations that really care about their team members and those that only say they care. We will see those that really care thrive and those who only give caring lip service struggle.
- We are on the cusp of a major implosion in the nursing home industry. It has been a long time coming and, prior to the pandemic, was happening in a slow and painful fashion. But with 200,000 fewer residents in nursing homes, the pace is accelerating. It will be horribly painful for owners, investors, and lenders. But it will ultimately be better for older people and for society.
Nursing homes won’t disappear, because some people are served better there than in any other environment. But 100% of the time it is not what people want. Just like no one wants to be in the hospital; but when you need the hospital, it is the best place in the world to be.
I would love to hear your predictions. Head on over to LinkedIn and let us know what you think. Submit your 2021 senior living predictions below.