Some senior living operators risk being overwhelmed by the pace of change in the industry, meaning that there is “tremendous potential for disruption,” according to the authors of a new white paper from CliftonLarsonAllen.

Issues related to lifestyle preferences, workforce, technology and overall viability are four of the areas that operators should be thinking about, according to Mario Mckenzie, principal, and Cathy Schweiger, healthcare director, of CliftonLarsonAllen.

For instance, most older adults prefer to age in place now. Senior living communities increasingly will need to decide whether they wish to serve people through services such as home healthcare and continuing care at home, the authors said. But they also can market their communities differently.

“Senior living providers have an opportunity to embrace these changes by positioning their communities as hubs for social interactions and by delivering services to those at home,” Mckenzie and Schweiger said.

Beyond thinking about communities and services in new ways, operators may need to physically rework existing communities or design new communities to accommodate residents as they need more care and services, according to the white paper.

“Within a life plan community, delayed transition through the continuum will likely drive efforts to rebalance existing proportions of independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing, as residents served by assisted living in the past can often be accommodated in independent living, and residents who would have transitioned to nursing care often care be cared for in assisted living. …[I]ndependent living residents of the future may seem more like assisted living residents of today,” Mckenzie and Schweiger said.

Beyond life plan communities, senior living options that do not have a nursing care component — such as independent living, assisted living or a combination of the two — hold appeal for some older adults who don’t believe they’ll need much nursing care, according to the white paper. They noted the concept of a “mini continuing care retirement community,” which omits the skilled nursing component.

“Assisted living operators are embracing the combination of lifestyle with higher acuity care to realize strong growth of specialty programs,” the authors said. “With continued policy and regulatory changes, assisted living facilities may soon be able to serve a wider range of consumers.”

To be attractive to potential workers who will serve those consumers, Mckenzie and Schweiger said, senior living operators will want to integrate up-to-date technologies into the workplace and offer flexible work arrangements, where possible.

“Operators can also benefit by recognizing the resource potential of older adults interested in remaining part of the workforce,” they wrote.

Regarding technology, according to the whitepaper, senior living operators will want to harness the power of latest tech to stay competitive and connected to consumers. Doing so may require upgrading bandwidth and taking steps to ensure that data are protected, systems cannot be hacked and cloud storage is sufficient, Mckenzie and Schweiger said.

To sustain the business long-term, they said, “Joining forces — whether through partnership, affiliation or related structures — then becomes an increasingly important tactic for securing strategic capital resources and enhancing market position.”

Access the white paper, which discusses additional disruptive factors and solutions, here.