By Steve Moran

The Bottom Line: Senior living is at least as safe as staying at home.

Last year The National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC) funded a study by the Nonpartisan and Objective Research organization (NORC) at the University of Chicago, to explore the true impact of COVID-19 on senior living.

Critically Important

This is critically important to look at, given all the negative press senior living received relative to COVID-19 infection and death rates. If all you did was read the news, you would be convinced that senior living was a death trap for residents and team members.

The quest was this: What is the truth?

The Bottom Line First

We kept senior living residents safe. 51% of all senior living communities, even when you include nursing homes, had no deaths, not a single one.

This should be part of every single conversation with residents, family members, and prospects:

“Do you have any idea how safe we are?”

The Numbers

On June 9 I interviewed Beth Burnham Mace from NIC and Caroline Pearson from NORC about the study. Here are the highlights from the conversation:

  • The hard numbers look like this:
    • In skilled nursing, there were about 60 deaths per 1,000 residents.
    • Assisted living: 19 deaths per 1,000 residents.
    • Independent living: 6 deaths per 1,000 – which was statistically comparable to living in peoples private homes.
  • While statistically the same, this one number really stood out. Independent living had a statically adjusted death rate of 5.9 per 1,000 residents while the rate was 6.7 per 1,000 in the community.
  • While the study did not look at causality, it seems pretty clear that the death rates correlated directly with underlying health conditions.
  • One of the other realities we face with senior living, particularly looking at nursing homes and medically oriented assisted living, is that there is always a certain percentage of residents who are in their last few weeks or even days of their lives. While the study did not look at this, it is fair to ask how many of those residents would have died from other causes in more or less the same time frame.
  • There is a huge need for better data because data helps us be better at caring for residents.
  • Operators overall did an amazing job of figuring out how to protect residents and team members. 
  • While as insiders we have always understood the benefits and safety of senior living, the public and the media do not. We have both an opportunity and an obligation to tell our story better. In particular, those organizations that did better than the national average should be telling that story everywhere.

Here is the entire interview:

You can access the Report HERE.