What does the future hold for the industry? As an actuary, I am asked to predict the financial and demographic future of Life Plan Communities every day. However, predicting what will happen from a broader, industry-wide angle is challenging. In this blog, I discuss key predictions for the industry. Some are actuarial in nature, while others are hot topics that I continually run across. I hope you enjoy looking into my crystal ball.
Expect Stabilized or Increasing ILU Occupancy
Over the last five years, occupancy levels in Life Plan Communities have increased and returned to a stabilized level, averaging in the low 90’s in Independent Living. With a positive economic outlook and the baby boomers at or near the doorstep of retirement, expect occupancy levels to remain level or marginally increase in the coming years.
Expect to See More Redevelopment Projects and Community Mergers and Acquisitions
Here at CCA, we have not seen too many providers building new communities to expand their footprint in the senior living space. Instead, we are observing more re-development projects that enhance existing community’s footprint and offerings. We have also seen the larger “chain” organizations expand their footprint through acquisitions of single-site communities or mergers with other large organizations. The industry should expect to see this trend continue, as this is a more rapid way to expand and re-image within our industry in today’s environment.
The Average Entry Age is Stabilizing In ILU
From 2006 through 2016, the industry was experiencing an increase in average entry ages from a range of 78-80 up to 82-84. This was partially due to increasing life expectancies in the elderly but was primarily due to the recession and the decrease in values of homes across the US. The elderly had been waiting longer to move to a CCRC because they were hoping that the value of their houses would increase closer to what they were before the 2008 housing bubble. Today, we are seeing average entry ages in Life Plan Communities decline back down to 2006 levels. In 2019 and beyond, we anticipate that average entry ages will stabilize in the low 80’s, with the housing shock out of the way and the oldest baby boomers in their mid-70’s entering retirement age.
Workforce Shortages Will Continue
Labor forces have been struggling to keep up with the demand of the growing elderly population. Expect this to continue in 2019, as the overall recruiting pool for the industry remains relatively small compared to the increasing age and income qualified population. A recent article in McKnight’s Senior Living publication said that 87% of leaders in the industry say that workforce challenges affect company growth. The article also estimated that the industry would need to fill almost 1.5M jobs in the next six years due to growth and employee turnover. As a result…
Providers will Continue to Look Outside of the US for Labor
Providers will look to outside countries to help to backfill the shortage in their workforce. They will look to Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, and the Philippines as the US workforce and nursing schools cannot keep up with demand over the next five to ten years. The current immigration battle in Washington will have a significant impact on the ability of providers to utilize immigrant workers, whether new legislation is passed, or not.
Technology Offsetting Staffing Shortages
Technology will have an ever-increasing role for communities and At-Home Programs. Products from Amazon, Apple and Google have allowed “smart speakers” to integrate with communities. Residents can now ask these devices to perform such tasks as turning on TVs, lights, and other amenities in their units or homes. More importantly, these devices can be used to talk directly with their caregivers and care coordinators, who can then delegate specific requests to the appropriate person at the community or program. Expect technology to continue to advance within communities and At-Home Programs to both help with staffing shortages and adapt to the changing demand of residents and members.
Chris Borcik is a Principal at Continuing Care Actuaries, located in Reisterstown, Maryland. Chris is a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries, a Fellow of the Conference of Consulting Actuaries, and a Member of the American Academy of Actuaries. His views are his own, and not that of his employer, the Society of Actuaries, the Conference of Consulting Actuaries, or the American Academy of Actuaries. Chris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.