Consumer Sentiment Improves for Independent Living, Drops for Assisted Living, Memory Care

Consumer sentiment for senior housing overall has grown more positive as providers prove they can create safe environments for residents.

But that sentiment is bifurcated. While the appeal of independent living has grown in recent months, interest in assisted living and memory care communities among prospective senior housing residents decreased.

And the negative impact of Covid-19 on a prospect’s willingness to move to senior housing has decreased further, but is still quantifiable.

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That’s according to a new survey conducted for the American Seniors Housing Association (ASHA) by ProMatura Group, an Oxford, Mississippi-based senior living market research firm.

The survey includes responses from a “lead list” of prospective customers of 208 participating ASHA member communities, a “purchased list” of households age 75 and older with and annual incomes of 35,000 and greater, and an “adult child” list of households in the 45 to 64 age range with annual incomes of $100,000 and up, living in one of the 21 metropolitan statistical areas (MSA) of the participating communities.

The research was conducted last December. ASHA released the survey’s results to its members Monday. The report is a follow-up to a survey conducted last summer.

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The biggest takeaway from the survey: Prospective residents and their loved ones with a more positive opinion toward senior housing indicated they are aware of communities practicing new procedures, as well as heightened safety protocols, to protect residents from Covid-19. This is a sign that the industry is gradually battling back from a deluge of negative headlines and stories about outbreaks at senior housing and care communities during the first wave of the pandemic last spring.

Consumer sentiment is strongest among independent living and active adult shoppers, and has grown significantly since the first survey. In Round 2, 72% of all survey residents found independent living communities either appealing or very appealing — a 9% increase over the previous survey. Two-thirds of all respondents found active adult communities appealing or very appealing.

The same cannot be said of the appeal for assisted living and memory care: 45% of respondents found assisted living appealing or very appealing in Round 2, versus 57% in Round 1.

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Appeal of memory care plummeted from 42% in the previous survey to 29% in Round 2. Prospects, in particular, expressed lower sentiment for the product type over their loved ones, which ASHA indicated is a reflection of prospects own opinions of whether they require the services associated with assisted living and memory care communities.

Other key findings from the survey:

  • Respondents are noticing a greater frequency of contact from communities from Round 1 to Round 2. Households on the lead list, specifically, were more likely than those on the purchased list to notice the increase.
  • Just over half of households on the lead list indicated a change in messaging being delivered by communities. Specifically, they mentioned that communities are describing safety protocols for residents, more stringent cleaning guidelines that have been implemented, and that communities are either closed to visitors or have procedures in place to facilitate visits with families.
  • Covid-19’s negative impact on a potential move to senior housing has decreased further between survey rounds. The negative impact of the pandemic among lead list households considering a move to active adult communities, noticeably, fell four percentage points.

ASHA and ProMatura will conduct future consumer sentiment surveys throughout 2021.

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