Experienced senior living operators are adapting to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and expect to come out strong on the other side of the current recession. Not all operators will survive, however, according to speakers at a National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care “Leadership Huddle” webinar Thursday.

“Quite frankly, I’m not sure everyone is going to make it through this,” said Dwayne Clark, co-founder and CEO of Bellevue, WA-based Aegis Living. “I think if you’re a company that has a weak culture, that has a weak credit rating, that has weak leadership, [you] may not survive. And I’m not trying to be doom and gloom here, but I do think the industry as a whole is going to change.”

Kelly Cook Andress, founder and president of Springfield, PA-based SageLife, called on operators to embrace a strong company culture that focuses on making sure employees feel supported and view continued investment in technologies and digital marketing efforts as essential. 

Andress also noted that the fall will be a critical milestone for the industry in terms of both understanding the pandemic’s true effects and building for the future.

“This timing would take us through seven or eight months of this and will allow us to see how the market base and the resident base rebound, and allow us to see what a second wave might look like,” Andress said.

Clark and Andress agreed that operators may want to start considering their options when it comes to alternative financing sources, just in case. 

“We have five development projects teed up for construction right now, and I don’t know that we’ll get all of those funded the traditional way,” Clark noted. “But we’re not just going to stop developing because the banks are nervous.”

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