As the COVID-19 pandemic began to affect the country in early March, Windsor, CA-based Oakmont Senior Living recognized that many seniors not living in supportive environments might be struggling with access to everyday essentials such as food, medication, healthcare, transportation and rehabilitation. To help address this, Oakmont, which operates 25 stabilized communities throughout California and 11 communities at various stages of lease up, worked to implement safety protocols that would allow the operator to continue to move in residents who had an immediate need for services, while keeping the safety of their residents and team members a top priority, according to Crystal Robinson, chief marketing officer at Oakmont Management Group.
“At the onset of the pandemic, we assembled a multi-discipline task force, hired a medical director to work with the local health authorities and guide our everyday decisions, and our move-in protocols called for enhanced screening, COVID-19 testing and mandatory quarantine, among other safety measures. With these protocols in place, we didn’t need to restrict move-ins and were able to continue to serve those in need,” Robinson told McKnight’s Senior Living.
These protocols have allowed Oakmont to maintain a portfolio occupancy of more than 91%, even during the pandemic, Robinson noted. In addition, although the operator has experienced a net decline in occupancy of 310 basis points across its stabilized operating portfolio since March, she said the firm has been experiencing occupancy growth across the portfolio in June, with month-end portfolio occupancy projections surpassing 93%. The firm also is still on track to open five new communities this year.
She added that connecting with seniors during the pandemic has required a shift in the firm’s sales approach and led Oakmont to re-train its entire sales force.
“We were no longer selling and showcasing the luxuries of a highly amenitized community or the renowned dining experience in our community restaurants and lounges,” Robinson said. “Our value proposition became our access to care, essential provisions, creative engagement, and a safe and sanitary environment.”
Oakmont also transformed its sales process to be entirely digital, including adjustments such as an enhanced website, an increase in digital marketing, electronic brochures, virtual tours, 3-D community videos, a digital paperwork process and companywide virtual events.
“We also adapted to meet the changing demand in our markets and adjusted our unit mix to expand memory care in multiple communities after experiencing an increase in emergent memory care demand,” Robinson said.