ASHA Survey: Consumers Still Find Seniors Housing Appealing Despite Pandemic

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Despite the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has a higher mortality rate among seniors than other age groups, a recent survey shows that the majority of consumers still find independent living and assisted living to be an appealing option for seniors.

The survey was commissioned by the American Seniors Housing Association (ASHA), a D.C.-based organization serving the seniors housing industry. Research firm ProMatura Group is conducting the study, which is still ongoing and polls prospective customers from the lead lists of 115 ASHA member communities.

“ASHA has been working diligently since late March to restore consumer trust through an extensive, multifaceted public relations campaign,” says David Schless, president of ASHA. “This preliminary research suggests our efforts are paying off as the majority of seniors and adult children have not changed their opinions of seniors housing since the onset of this crisis.”

Among survey respondents, 73 percent of adult children report no change in their opinion of memory care since the outset of the COVID-19 crisis, while 18 percent report having a more negative opinion and nine percent report having a more positive opinion.

Sixty-one percent of respondents report no change in opinion of independent living communities, although most who have changed their opinion (35 percent) have a less favorable opinion.

Over half (53 percent) of the adult children who responded to the survey report no change in their opinion of assisted living since the beginning of the pandemic, with 36 percent reporting a less favorable opinion and 11 percent reporting a more favorable opinion.

The preliminary research, ASHA shared with its members, also explores priorities for prospects prior to moving to seniors housing. Consumers of all three levels of care (independent living, assisted living and memory care) indicated that identifiable cleaning/disinfecting programs and COVID-19 testing with rapid accessible results are essential. More than half the respondents shopping for assisted living or memory care also indicated that having a primary care physician on site or via telemedicine was essential.

“It is clear that the industry will need to work hard to fully regain the trust of consumers, and this research points to several tangible steps that operators can take to make prospective customers feel safe and secure about moving into a community during this pandemic,” says Margaret Wylde of ProMatura Group.

ASHA expects to complete its research in late July and will release a final report this summer that will include a regional analysis of survey findings, the organization said.

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