ASHA, ProMatura Survey: Potential Residents Haven’t Changed Opinions of Seniors Housing During Pandemic

OXFORD, Miss., and WASHINGTON, D.C. — Despite a slew of bad press related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, prospective residents and their families have largely not changed their opinion of seniors housing.

That’s according to a new survey released by D.C.-based American Seniors Housing Association and Oxford-based research firm ProMatura. The survey polled prospective customers of 131 participating communities, all private-pay seniors housing. Respondents were over 75 years of age with an income over $35,000 per year living in one of 15 metropolitan areas.

Of the respondents, 63 percent said independent living communities are either appealing or very appealing, compared with 57 percent for assisted living and 42 percent for memory care.

“In spite of the press and the news coverage of COVID-19 over the past several months, the majority of prospects have not changed their opinions of retirement communities since the onset of the pandemic,” the report reads. “Across all three levels of care, those who now have a more positive opinion explain that retirement communities are practicing new policies and procedures and provide greater levels of protection for their residents against COVID-19. Those who now have a more negative opinion (across all three levels of care) explain that they feel that communities are hot spots for the virus.”

Overall, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on propensity to move to independent living and assisted living, although the largest decrease in the proportion of those very likely to move to independent living. In fact, COVID-19 slightly increased the proportion of assisted living lead prospects who were very likely to move.

The results suggest that the most serious or hottest prospects are still planning to move, but those who were less likely to move to begin with are delaying or tabling the decision, according to the survey.

When asked what must occur before moving to a retirement community, prospects across all three levels of care indicated that identifiable cleaning and disinfecting programs at communities as well as COVID-19 testing with rapid results accessible at communities are essential. More than half of prospects shopping for assisted living or memory care also indicated that having a primary care physician on site or via telemedicine is essential.

“Overall, these results seem to suggest a cautiously optimistic road ahead for the seniors housing industry,” the report states. “Though its clear that the COVID-19 crisis has made its mark on the industry, there is still opportunity for progress and move-ins across all levels of care.”

To read the full survey results, click here.