Staffing Woes Keep Senior Living Leaders Up at Night

The senior living industry, like the American population, is in flux—and the amount of change is enough to keep industry folks up at night.

Above all else, those in the senior living industry are most concerned about staff recruitment and retention, according to The State of Senior Living 2017 report from Perkins Eastman.

The architecture firm surveyed almost 200 employees from largely nonprofit continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) for the report. The majority of respondents (67%) hold C-suite positions and 15% are industry consultants.


Industry leaders are most uneasy about senior living wages potentially significantly outpacing job empowerment, benefits, or training, the survey found. Approximately 76% of survey respondents admitted they think about how staff recruitment and retention will impact the future of the senior living industry “a great deal.”

If senior living executives are worried about staff recruitment, they’re going to have to start treating their staff like they’re treating residents, Dan Cinelli, principal at Perkins Eastman, told Senior Housing News.

“In addition to communities having to make sure their dining rooms look like restaurants and incorporating lifelong learning programs to stand out, the provider’s main office should look just as nice,” Cinelli said. “They don’t need to be Google status, but they need to look like modern workplaces so employees will enjoy being there.”


Partnerships and Health Care Reform

Coming in a close second to staffing concerns were concerns of baby boomer expectations and health care reform.

The respondents’ single largest concern was the lack of boomer financial resources. Current senior living communities don’t meet boomer expectations, so boomers are more likely to opt to live at home, the report suggests.

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To meet the expectations of baby boomers, providers will need to go above and beyond. One way they can do so is to increase the number of partnerships they are a part of, Cinelli explained.

For senior living providers, aligning with health care systems is more important than ever as reimbursements and policies change, the report noted. From 2015 to 2017, partnerships with health care systems increased from 10% to 36%, according to the report.

In addition to readying providers for various policy changes, having a few partnerships can boost providers’ credibility amongst baby boomers.

“Boomers may be skeptical about moving into a senior community, but if they see a partner they trust and have been working with for years, such as a health care system or university, they will be more likely to make the leap,” Cinelli said. “If they peel back the onion three layers and the third layer is a senior living provider, they may be okay with it because it has partnered with another entity that does great things.”

It all comes down to showing baby boomers, as well as staff members, that senior living is not what it used to be even 10 years ago, he added.

“If it looks, smells and tastes like an old senior home, nobody will be coming,” Cinelli said.

Written by Alana Stramowski

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