Solving the bricks and mortar cost problem will not get us all the way to a middle income senior living solution, but a communal living model like Marriott is doing might get us closer than we think.
By Steve Moran
While still in the design phase, Marriott is looking to roll out a new kind of shared or communal stay option in their eco-conscious Element Hotel brand. The big idea is a supersized hotel suite that will sleep between 8 and 16 people.
No, not a dorm room but a central core that includes a kitchen, television viewing and sitting areas. Then off that core, will be some number of private rooms. They see a couple of use models:
For families or other groups, who might want to work or vacation together.
For singles and couples who would like to have some community interaction while preserving a level of privacy.
The Senior Living Fit
We already see a very similar model in dementia communities and we know it works. Mostly though we are seeing bigger, fancier common spaces and larger resident units. This is perhaps terrific for those who can afford it, but if you can’t afford it, then what?
I am not even convinced it is what is best for those who can afford it. More space for small groups of people means less interaction with others and we seem to need at least some interpersonal interactions in order to thrive.
Middle Income Solution
Solving the bricks and mortar cost problem will not get us all the way to a middle income senior living solution, but a model like this might get us closer than we think. Here are the possible benefits:
Smaller square footage per resident means lower capital requirements and lower debt payments.
It also means lower utilities and less space to clean and maintain.
Perhaps the biggest potential is that when people live in close quarters they tend to become more interdependent. If this happens it reduces staff costs. It also creates a sense of purpose and meaning and there is some evidence that suggests that purpose and meaning results in a longer lifespan. In the world of senior living this translates into longer lengths of stay.
I keep wondering will we figure these things out or will someone else end up showing us the way?