We’re barely into the third quarter, yet it’s already clear this will be a year unlike any other.

The senior living and care sector is basically being eviscerated by COVID-19. Residents are dying. Staff is fleeing. Costs are up. Revenues are down. The future has never been more uncertain.

A just-released American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living survey of nearly 500 post-acute operators reveals a very abnormal new normal. Here’s what the respondents had to say:

  • Almost nine in 10 have profit margins at or below 3%.
  • More than half (55%) are losing money.
  • Nearly three in four (72%) will be out of business in a year if current trends continue.
  • Make that out of business in half a year for 40%.

Sobering stuff, indeed.

And it’s not as if operators catch a break when they go home. Actually, many now can’t leave home. As for readers with school-age children, back-to-school is taking on a completely new meaning.

To be sure, many of us are dealing with major upheaval in our personal and professional lives. But it is worth remembering that change often brings unexpected benefits.

Consider Sweden. There, a unified kingdom was established early in the 12th century. Hundreds and hundreds of years of stability, tranquility and calm. Not much has changed. As for the cuisine? Meatballs, then what?

Then there’s Italy. New governments more often than the Olympics. Debt out the wazoo. High unemployment. Instability galore. But the food? Mama mia!

Similarly in senior living, we’re starting to see how the COVID-19 wrecking ball is driving positive change. Let’s start with staffing. Many communities are adapting new approaches to finding and keeping employees that would have been unthinkable a few years ago.

Then there are services. Operators are scrambling to deliver food in new and innovative ways, use technology to enhance activities and generally make life better for those who are served.

Even physical plants are starting to take on new looks that are less virus friendly.

There’s no doubt that the pandemic has made things generally worse. But there are good things happening as well. And once this nasty virus is licked, the good things will continue on.

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