Resident retention is always high on the list of priorities for senior housing operators. Keeping rooms occupied ensures a steady income stream and is an indicator of resident wellness and satisfaction. Turnover on the other hand inevitably equates to lost revenue and missed opportunities.
Now more than ever, though, resident retention has become a whole new ballgame. The stakes are higher than ever, and operators are being pressed to respond.
An aging population
An Aging population means that senior residence operators have to work harder to keep their residents in place. The typical senior housing resident may be mobile, she’s also 87 years old and needs help with two to three activities of daily living. She has two to three chronic conditions. Given the increasing level of frailty, operators must pay extra attention to wellness issues in order to ensure resident retention.
Increased competition is pressuring senior housing operators across the industry to hold their numbers steady. Roughly one million Americans live in senior care facilities and this number will nearly double by 2030. Developers see big opportunity here, and the pace of new construction is expected to grow. Growth will inevitably mean competition, and that means operators will need to devote special care to maintain their occupancy numbers.
Higher expectations also make resident retention a whole new ballgame. Today’s seniors expect to maintain a high quality of life once they enter senior housing, and operators will need to work hard to ensure their continued satisfaction. In a poll of seniors, 91 percent said comfort and ambiance of resident apartments was important, 85 percent said the quality of food was a priority and 93 percent said cleanliness was an indicator of how the staff might treat them. The bottom line in all these findings: Seniors are coming in with high expectations, making retention a newly reinvigorated priority – a whole new ballgame.
What drives resident retention? Or, to reverse the question, why do seniors leave their housing situations? In some cases satisfaction will play a role. Owners who do not pay sufficient heed to retention may find residents and their loved ones dissatisfied and ready to make a change.
More often though, turnover correlates directly to wellness. People leave senior housing because they get injured, because they acquire conditions that require more intensive care, or for other reasons related to their ongoing health and physical wellbeing.
In this regard, owners with an eye toward retention have an ally in modern technology. Passive sensor technology for instance can help to reduce the likelihood of falls. Advanced communications dashboards can help to connect seniors to friends and loved ones, thus warding off loneliness and the subsequent depression that often deteriorates seniors’ wellness.
Clearly resident retention is a whole new ballgame in 2016, with advancing frailty, increased competition and heightened expectations. For owners looking to stay competitive, technology can be a powerful ally.