Faced with operational pressures related to Covid-19, many providers say they will only be able to sustain current operations for up to 12 months.
That’s according to the results of a new survey from the National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL).
NCAL polled 193 assisted living operators across the United States from August 8 through August 10 for the survey — 70% of the respondents operate single communities. Already, some senior living providers that are small in scale were financially stressed prior to the pandemic have begun to experience serious distress.
Half of the survey respondents indicated that they are currently operating at a loss, and another 23% are operating on a total margin of less than 3%.
The margins raise concerns about how long providers can continue to operate at their current pace: 37% responded that they could continue operations at their current pace for another six to 12 months; 26% indicated that they could continue for another six months at their current pace, and 1% responded that they can only sustain operations for one more month.
An overwhelming majority of respondents indicated that purchasing personal protective equipment (PPE) is the main driver of cost increases in assisted living — 95% replied that PPE is the most significant expense, and 97% indicated that PPE expenses will continue to pressure operating margins until the pandemic subsides. Among other costs, 55% responded that additional wages are a significant driver, and 50% indicated that cleaning supplies contribute to cost increases.
Unlike their skilled nursing counterparts, however, assisted living providers have not received direct federal funding in response to the pandemic: 44% of respondents reported that they have not received any government funding due to Covid-19. Of the providers that have received assistance, 44% were able to participate in the Paycheck Protection Program via the CARES Act stimulus; 16% received assistance via state Medicaid rate increases or add-ons; 15% received funding from the Provider Relief Fund and 2% received additional payments from states.
Industry groups have pushed Congress for direct relief for assisted living in the next stimulus package, but that may not happen. The latest version of the Senate Republican leadership’s $10 billion “HEALS Act” includes no allocation for aging services providers to meet their PPE needs and alleviate increased costs.
LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan on Wednesday called the lack of funding “shameful” in a press release.
“This bill provides no real relief to older Americans,” she said.