Average occupancy within life plan communities fell another 90 basis points in the fourth quarter, dropping to a new record low of 85.7%, according to the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care’s NIC MAP Data Service. These latest data bring the cumulative drop in occupancy with the life plan community sector to 3.5% since the pandemic began. 

Although occupancy rates remain more than 9% higher in life plan communities (also known as continuing care retirement communities, or CCRCs) compared with the fourth quarter average non-life-plan-community occupancy rate (79.6%), the drop still has some operators concerned. Before the second quarter, life plan community occupancy had oscillated around 91% for 22 consecutive quarters.

NIC MAP also found that occupancy rates among entrance fee life plan communities (88%) was 6.3% higher than within rental life plan communities (88% versus 81.7%), and not-for-profit life plan community occupancy was 6.1% higher than for-profit life plan communities (87.3% compared with 81.2%).

Lana Peck, senior principal at NIC, provided additional analyses of the pandemic’s effects on life plan community occupancy and year-over-year inventory in an article for specialty investment banking firm Ziegler’s Z-News on Wednesday.