How Resident Retention Affects Operational Efficiency in Senior Housing

“There is nothing more important than a good, safe, secure home.” – Rosalynn Carter

On the Senior Quality of Life Blog we’ve examined how senior living technologies can increase resident retention. Tech that automates fall risk assessment, assists with pressure ulcer prevention and can provide early illness detection, can significantly increase resident retention by helping to keep residents safe, healthy, and secure.

An above average length-of-stay and low turnover among residents are signs of a senior community with thriving, satisfied residents. Possessing strong resident retention metrics is good in and of itself, because it’s a telling indicator that a provider is successfully fulfilling its core mission to provide quality care to aging residents.

But strong resident retention is also good for business in that it drives efficiencies (sometimes efficiencies that aren’t always obvious) that senior living executives can enjoy.

Here are some ways that resident attention reduces costs and improves operational efficiency at senior communities:

Improved Occupancy Rate

To increase occupancy rate, a community merely has to avoid losing residents at a rate that is faster than they admit new residents. For this reason, strong resident retention driven by increased length-of-stay will boost occupancy rates – a key indicator of operational efficiency and success in senior housing.

Less Budget Required for Lead-Gen

Lead generation can be an expensive component of senior living operations. From high fees paid to senior care referral services, to expensive print and media advertising with hard to quantify ROI, bringing in new residents is a significant driver of cost. But providers with better than normal resident retention can pull back some of this spending on lead-gen because they do not have the resident “churn” that makes it necessary. Communities with strong resident retention have the backing of their residents, their resident’s loved-ones, and the local community, and in these circumstances word-of-mouth referrals can become the number one referral source. In other words, at communities with strong resident retention, the community’s commitment to quality care often speaks for itself and drives free leads.

Satisfied, Productive Caregiving Staff

Just as residents can grow fond of their caregivers due to familiarization, and may be saddened or troubled when a caregiver is replaced by another, so too senior living caregiving staff develop bonds with the residents for whom they are caring. These bonds often mean that they can give better, more efficient care to residents who they know than to new, unfamiliar residents. The efficiency gains that occur through these personal connections are hard to quantify but should not be underestimated. Of course, it’s the nature of senior housing that residents will have health changes and move-on from the community, or even pass away. Yet at communities with policies and technologies leading to better resident retention, the staff undoubtedly serve the residents better and more efficiently.

Less Living Spaces to Refurbish

When a senior living resident moves out of their senior living home, the costs associated with cleaning, sanitizing, and potentially refurbishing the resident’s old apartment add up. When move-outs are frequent, these costs can eat at a budget. What’s more, senior communities will also often invest significantly to customize a living space for a new resident. For example, they may repaint the walls or change the carpets to win over a resident who is on the fence about moving in. Clearly, it’s best for providers when their units are rented for long periods of time, rather than being rented and vacated in rapid cycles.

What are your strategies to keep residents healthy, satisfied, and in your community? What advantages do you see in retaining residents for the long-term? Share your comments below.

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