The senior living industry will emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic with a greater appreciation for the value of its care providers and the myriad of unique and necessary services provided in the facility setting, according to Scott White, chairman and CEO of Invesque.
“With 2020 in the rearview mirror, we look to 2021 with great optimism,” White told McKnight’s Business Daily. “Our industry will forever be better and stronger.”
White noted that he can’t pinpoint the date the industry or his firm will return to pre-pandemic occupancy levels, saying that may be the wrong way to approach recovery. Instead, he pointed to three major observations and learned lessons that will help transform seniors housing in 2021 and beyond.
First off, he said, Invesque’s 105 senior living and skilled nursing properties and the population these facilities serve is vulnerable, and COVID exposed this more than ever.
“We realized how quickly we can expose and hurt the most vulnerable in our society,” White noted, adding that the industry was caught flat-footed and had to play defense rather than offense. In response, long-term care facilities now are prepared with personal protective equipment, procedures and training “ like never before.”
Second, although the senior living industry as a whole always understood how vital its frontline workers were, the pandemic provided the world with a greater appreciation for all that the industry’s care providers do, White said. His hope is that society will place a greater emphasis on attracting and retaining the very best care providers to the long-term care industry.
“We will self-reflect as an industry, and more broadly as a society, on the vital role care providers serve and the need to make sure we provide a safe, inclusive, motivated and fun work environment for those who have committed to our industry and the vulnerable population we serve,” White said.
Finally, he concluded, the public learned firsthand about how vital the senior living and care industry is to overall society.
“Maybe for the first time, society broadly reflected on what it means to be isolated and the mental health toll isolation takes,” he said. “We also realized the logistical nightmare of providing food, medicine, rehab and other basic services to homebound seniors. The post-pandemic world will have a greater appreciation for the unique social, mental and practical elements seniors housing provides.”