2021 Senior Living Mangement Trends

Senior Living Management Team

In 2021, rapid and dynamic change is guaranteed again in senior living.


2020 was the BIG LOCKDOWN for senior living.


2021 is going to be the BIG COMEBACK.


Here's six top issues we will discuss below:

  • Vaccines-Mandate or not?
  • Labor shortages in a re-staffing world.
  • Online ordering rapidly increasing as a dining option.
  • Stocks are up, signaling recovery.
  • Creative revenue.

Vaccines - Mandate or Not?

According to the National Investment Center, there is a 27% nominal gap (33% relative) between senior living resident vaccination rates (81%) and senior living staff vaccinations rates (54%).1


This has left senior living community managers with a serious conundrum.


Do you mandate the vaccine or not?2


Complicating matters, entry level labor (particularly in dining) is extremely tight right now.  So, communities fear that requiring vaccines might lead to employee turnover or difficulty in hiring, when they can least afford it.


However, let’s be clear. Move-ins in 2020 were non-existent, putting significant financial stress on senior living communities.


You should expect that a key factor for prospective residents will be, “Do you require your staff to be vaccinated?”


Given the choice between two communities, one that is 100% vaccinated at the staff level and one that is 60% vaccinated at the staff level - which would you choose?


So even though 55% of senior living operators polled in late February, 2021 do NOT plan to require staff vaccination, we expect that number to dwindle quickly as prospective residents choose facilities that require vaccination.3

Labor Shortage in a Re-Staffing World

You would think that higher unemployment (from this time last year) would make labor more abundant.


However, relatively aggressive unemployment insurance policies have led to a workforce that can earn as much money staying home as they can working.4


So, a growing labor shortage is pressuring senior living operators.5


The only long term solution is an increase in automation and technology, including resident-driven technology.6


This is a great time to aggressively deploy technology and has led to a boom in the deployment of resident portals and online ordering, growing over 600% in 2020.

self service

Online Ordering Rapidly Expanding

Prior to the pandemic, communal dining was a highlight of the day for many residents.


Once lock downs started, communities had to quickly adjust to new dining setups.


Instead of large tables enjoying food together in the dining room, food was delivered to rooms and strict regulations were put in place.


It remains a priority for senior living communities to continue to deliver exceptional service and delicious food.


So how is this accomplished?  One method is online ordering.


Online ordering increased over 600% from 2019 to 2020 and continues to accelerate.7


Online ordering allows for appropriate social distancing between residents and staff.


Additionally, we are hearing from community sales teams that online ordering is now a critical component in the selling of safety for potential new residents.

Stocks are Up, Signaling Recovery

Our industry tracking index shows senior living industry stocks up 19.9% in Q1 2021, clawing back losses relative to the S&P 500 in 2020.


This signals a fairly bullish outlook that senior living operators are set to see earning momentum as move-ins rebound and residents who moved out, move back in.

03.22.21 Stock Evaluation Table

Creative Revenue


You’re well aware of the endless financial strains on the senior living industry from 2020.


The unexpected and significant cost of PPE, reduced occupancy revenue, increased sanitation supplies, and so much more.


To combat this unforeseen profit dip, communities have gotten creative to drive additional revenue.


At many locations, grocery and convenience stores are setup in vacant dining rooms.


On-site grocery stores allow residents to get necessities without leaving home, provides communities with additional revenue, and keeps dining staff employed.

Additionally, by utilizing online ordering, on-site stores are even more successful.


Residents went stir crazy and missed interaction with their friends in 2020.


To help residents safely interact, innovative activities have been organized. Many of these activities brought in additional revenue.


IT and dining teams coordinated to setup Cocktail Hour zoom calls. Any residents wanting to participate logged into the zoom call to see their friends and a cocktail cart went around to safely deliver cocktails.


Similar events were organized for early morning coffee meetups, game nights, and birthday celebrations.

Ready to Talk?