Mainstreet is counting on baby boomers to revolt against existing nursing home options for short-term skilled nursing or rehabilitation stays, and bolstered by a recent survey’s results, it continues to develop a high-end, hotel-inspired product.
Since 2002, the investment company has built, acquired, or is in the process of developing nearly 50 hospitality-infused, high-end assisted living and rehab facilities across the country and in Canada. Mainstreet, affiliated with HealthLease Properties REIT (TSX.UN:HLP), recently got confirmation for its hotel-inspired strategy after surveying boomers on their retirement living expectations and preferences.
America’s Research Group conducted the survey, which tallied 1,000 qualified responses nationally that proportionally represented each region of the country. Boomers were polled on topics including health concerns, finances, retirement, and senior living.
“We know 90% of people want to be at home, as long as possible. Our entire model is focused on getting them well and sending them home,” says Zeke Turner, CEO of Mainstreet. “We know people will not downsize and won’t choose to move into a [senior living] property. Boomers want nothing to do with that. But when they have a need, they want to be taken care of, be rehabbed, and get sent home.”
Only one in four respondents said they expected to move from their current home when they retire, and 81% said they didn’t want to go to a nursing home. Another 25% said they believed they would eventually be “forced” to live in a healthcare assisted living facility.
However, 80% said they would consider a short-term stay in a hotel-like property for rehabilitation or therapy—Mainstreet’s wheelhouse. A vast majority of people utilizing Mainstreet facilities only stay for around 18-25 days before they move home, Turner says. Most units (around 90%) are private, with each building featuring hospitality-centered design, restaurant-style dining, social gathering areas such as movie theaters, pubs, and internet cafes, and therapy and wellness areas.
More than one in three boomers surveyed named “loss of privacy” as the biggest barrier for them in considering senior living. Still, two in three indicated they’d like to retire and then live with others who have similar interests.
Another preference highlighted in the survey: a desire among boomers to remain in their communities, something 30% of respondents said they would do if they had to move from their home.
“We’re focused on where the baby boomers are today, where people want to get their care,” says Turner. “We’re making our properties part of communities, rather than isolating them.”
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One of the biggest barriers to that, according to him, is the state regulatory environment and availability of certificates of need.
“For some bizarre reason, states continue to restrict new development of senior care,” he says. “The biggest thing [is getting] licensed.”
Even though Mainstreet’s various facility designs could go in any location, whether rural, urban, or suburban, Turner says, only about half of states allow for new product in senior care. Of those, only about a quarter allow for new construction in the space without having to cut through “a ton” of red tape.
“It has to change,” Turner says of skilled nursing product and the regulatory environment. “Consumers themselves will revolt. People are saying they won’t go to these [older] properties, and it’s the only option available… We haven’t hit the tipping point yet.”
Written by Alyssa Gerace