How did continuing care retirement community Sagewood achieve greater than 95% occupancy in its independent living and assisted living units between Jan. 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022?

The secret sauce, Sagewood Marketing Director Diane Schwartz told the McKnight’s Business Daily, boils down to word-of-mouth referrals — residents tend to tell others about their experience. Occupancy currently is closer to 100%, with a waiting list, she added.

Sagewood is well-known in the Phoenix area for its amenities, such as a fitness center, movie theaters, indoor and outdoor pools, 18-hole putting golf course, auditorium for multi-purpose use, as well as formal and casual dining, Schwartz said, noting that the property sits on 85 acres.

“It really is a resident-driven experience at Sagewood. That’s what makes it unique,” Associate Executive Director Ed Smith said. In addition to the amenities, he said, the community offers many different interest groups that draw in outsiders.

Sagewood came through the pandemic pretty much unscathed, Smith said, crediting the “science of Life Care Services.” LCS manages the community.

LCS, Smith said, created a COVID-19 playbook that helped communities operate locally and make the changes that were needed. Sagewood kept in contact with depositors, he added.

“We actually saw occupancy grow during that pandemic time, which was incredible,” Smith said.

With 101 apartments under construction at Sagewood during the pandemic, the executive credits the virtual communications from preventing depositors from backing out of plans to move in.

“We actually closed out 2021 with that building being 90% occupied. …That was pretty incredible for us,” Smith said.

Arizona has seen many retirees moving into the state, Schwartz noted, which benefits senior living communities. Many older adults are coming from California, she said, because Arizona is a less expensive place to live and to retire.

“I think it’s really growing,” she said.