Staffing issues and maintenance challenges continue to weigh on resident satisfaction, but overall there are signs the industry is stabilizing in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.
That’s according to the latest annual J.D. Power U.S. Senior Living Satisfaction Study, published on Wednesday. The 2022 survey is based on 2,715 responses from senior living residents or their decision-makers between May and August.
Overall, the consumer research and data analytics firm found that Life Care Services ranked highest among IL providers, while Brookdale Senior Living (NYSE: BKD) and Enlivant were tied for the top spot among AL and memory care providers.
Resident satisfaction was measured by six factors: Community buildings and grounds; community staff; dining; price paid for services received; resident activities; and resident apartment/living unit.
Compared to last year, resident satisfaction is “fairly stable,” according to JD Power Hospitality and Senior Living Practice Lead Andrea Stokes.
“It means that the industry hopefully is stabilizing operationally after going through a really difficult two years,” Stokes told Senior Housing News.”
Life Care Services averaged 841 points, retaining its top ranking for a fourth consecutive year, with Five Star Senior Living (739 points) ranking second..
Brookdale and Enlivant each scored an average of 832 points among family members’ overall satisfaction with AL and memory care providers, with Sunrise Senior Living ranking third with 831 points.
The overall satisfaction score for IL providers declined for the second consecutive year, while the score for AL and memory care increased slightly since last year. On a 1,000-point scale, IL residents gave an average satisfaction score of 734, which was down four points from 2021’s survey. The largest drop in IL satisfaction was seen in satisfaction with community staff, which was down 12 points; and in satisfaction with community buildings and grounds, which was down 10 points.
The drop in IL resident satisfaction could stem from sustained challenges that have plagued the industry since the pandemic began in 2020, such as labor or supply chain issues, Stokes said.
With nearly all operators across the country hosting visitors and residents for meals or visits, Stokes said the data pointed towards a potential stabilization of the industry.
“Hopefully it bodes well for providers and that they are able to bring in new residents moving forward,” Stokes said.
Approximately 20% of IL residents reported they had a spend-down account for things like ala carte meals and unique experiences, which was higher than in previous years, she noted. That is a strategy adopted by some senior living operators across the industry to capture ancillary revenue now and increase resident satisfaction.
“It does seem that when residents are able to get a declining balanced meal plan, they tend to be more satisfied with their dining experience,” Stokes noted.
On the AL and memory care side, Stokes said it was common for respondents to engage more frequently with metrics based around cost and affordability since family members are often handling finances for residents within higher acuity care settings.
Stokes said providers can use the data to learn more about what residents want in their senior living experience, including in dining, their units and amenities. living unit conditions and broader community-wide metrics.
To get a pulse on resident and family satisfaction, Stokes urged operators to strengthen lines of communication from community staff.
“It’s about communication, but it’s also about the staff accessible to the residents and family members and making sure senior management at the community is accessible as well,” Stokes said.