During the ongoing pandemic, increasing communication with residents, families and staff has taken on even more importance than in the past, according to commentary released this week by investment firm Tortoise Advisors. The firm spoke with management teams across the senior living sector to distill lessons learned from managing COVID-19 and how the virus may permanently affect operations in the future.

“In this case, over communication, being open and very honest with families and employees through not only written communication, but also through webinars and meetings has been essential,” report authors noted. “It is important to be very clear about the protocols in place.”

Based on their conversations, Tortoise also predicted the demand for memory care services will escalate. The need for independent living communities, however, may slow, as it often is considered a discretionary service. From an investment standpoint, Tortoise also noted that cap rates are likely to increase, and evaluations may change somewhat because of the perceived risk, particularly with institutional investors. 

“Facilities that are successful, should not have trouble accessing capital or refinancing,” the report noted. “At Tortoise, we continue to be bullish on the senior living sector and believe that there will continue to be a strong need once our communities bounce back, which will take some time.”