We are hearing much about how the future of senior living will be different.
Buildings will be less virus friendly, ventilation systems will improve, infection control practices will get better and marketing messages will change, according to the experts.
Yes, all those things will probably happen. But there are two looming challenges that we’re not hearing much about: labor and lawsuits.
Regarding the first, I don’t mean labor challenges in the sense that finding and keeping qualified workers will become more difficult. Although that will certainly be the case. Rather, I mean labor challenges more in the sense of employees refusing to work in communities where they don’t feel safe.
We are already starting to see this play out on the healthcare side, where some workers have taken to the picket line. But rather than demanding higher wages, they are calling for less dangerous working environments. Think it can’t happen to you in the near future? Think again.
Then there are the lawsuits. And boy oh boy, some are going to be astronomical. Say what you will about the 120,000-plus deaths related to the pandemic, COVID-19 has been the best thing to happen to the plaintiffs’ bar since TV ads.
To be sure, there is a push underway to protect good-faith operators from such legal activity. But that battle is hardly won.
This pandemic may be the worst thing that has ever happened to senior living. Making matters worse is that cleaning up this mess will likely continue for many years.