The traditional senior housing market is undergoing a profound change. In 2018 senior housing occupancy fell to an eight-year low, even as the senior population continues to increase, as competition for the younger baby boomer market is ramping up and forcing a change to more traditional independent and assisted living options. Active adult concepts like Margaritaville are addressing this market segment that is turned off by the idea of “senior living.” Atria Senior Living is in a joint venture with Related Companies to build $3 billion in senior luxury housing in major metro areas while overall multifamily development with an intergenerational mix of renters is also fragmenting the traditional senior housing market. Occupancy challenges in traditional independent living and assisted living communities are also finding the retention of a reliable workforce to be a continuing challenge. The truth is that the advent of smart home technology and on-demand services ordered via a smartphone, as well as home care aides, are enabling apartment and single dwelling living for more extended periods than ever before. Younger seniors tend to want to age in place for as long as possible.
Medicare Reform in Skilled Nursing Facilities
In the skilled nursing arena, Medicare fee-for-service payment reform brings forward three major provisions: the change to the case-mix classification system, the skilled nursing facility Value Based-Purchase Program, and the skilled nursing facility Quality Reporting Program. The case-mix model focuses on the patient’s condition and resulting care needs rather than the number of care services provided to determine Medicare payment. The Value Based-Purchase Program shifts the Medicare payments from volume to value driven. Finally, the skilled nursing facility Quality Reporting Program is designed, through innovation, to provide meaningful, quality measure reporting, a reduction of paperwork, and a lowering of administrative costs.
New Approaches to Senior Living Needs and Services
These and other changes in Medicare are helping to create an influx of capital into the senior care market incentivizing innovative partnerships and cross-continuum service development. Investors and providers will be partnering with Medicare Advantage payors, retail giants, home health, pharmacies, technology, and other provider groups to reinvent and manage the quality and cost of senior care housing, products, and services. This influx of investment capital combined with technology is destined to create fresh ways to approach senior living needs and the services that provide for them. Web-based platforms and data analytics software continue to address the battle for the retention of the health care workforce while Telehealth solutions are enabling elders in rural markets to reach providers and connect with specialists. Voice recognition software is increasingly being integrated into resident units whether they are private homes or pay for service facilities. Partnering opportunities and joint ventures will continue to create new service models that will, in particular, meet the needs of home and community-based services.
Data-driven Marketing to Children of Seniors
When aging in place is no longer a viable strategy a senior is faced with where to go next. Marketing senior housing to the younger baby boomers is changing, and it is data-driven. In particular, the adult Gen X children of these seniors are helping their parents to make informed decisions, and they typically get their information from online sources. Social media has become a tech tool replacing older marketing models of senior housing communities. Operators can tell their stories, address negative reviews, promote positive news items, and create conversations. Gen X adult children will be looking to social media platforms to get real and varied opinion to validate their parents’ choices.
As Medicare Advantage increases its integration in the overall health care system, data collection and its conclusions are more critical than ever. Potential residents will also be addressing concerns about health care data. More data is being gathered than ever before by Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) on hospital readmission rates, the prevalence of falls, and other related health information and consumers will demand to know what these statistics are before entering into a contract with a senior living community.
A Competitive Senior Living Industry
Seniors are being presented with more living options than ever before and the competition for their dollars will keep providers in the senior living industry highly focused and fiercely competitive. Questions facing seniors include: How and where do you want to live as you age? Are you well informed about the changing options available to you? Do you have a plan in place that is legally documented for the stages of your senior life? The attorneys at Larson & Brown, PA can help. Contact our Wichita office at 316-729-0100 and let’s start planning together.