Brian Jurutka
Brian Jurutka

A new national study funded by the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care will reveal how the effects of COVID-19 on residents differ between various senior housing and care settings to identify best practices in preventing future outbreaks.

NIC will partner with NORC at the University of Chicago, a nonpartisan research organization, on a two-phased study that will “get to the heart of the mission of senior housing and care,” NIC President and CEO Brian Jurutka said. The organization provides data and analytics related to independent living, assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing facilities.

“The health and housing sectors must better understand the incremental impact of COVID-19 in senior housing and care relative to a similar population in traditional residential settings in the context of what was known about the spread of the disease, local regulations, testing and other factors,” Jurutka said. “This study will seek to understand the impact of the disease by care setting and identify lessons learned to ultimately benefit older Americans by informing operators, investors and policymakers.”

The first phase of the study is expected to be completed in the spring and include analysis of NIC’s state-level data and stakeholder perspectives. The second phase will add data sources, including Medicare claims data, and is expected to be completed by the end of next year.

The research will include lessons learned from the pandemic and practical steps that can be used to prevent and control future virus outbreaks. 

“Efforts to increase transparency in the senior housing and care sector require a close look at multiple data sources to understand what happened during the COVID-19 pandemic and what’s needed in the future,” said Terry Fulmer, Ph.D., president of the John A. Hartford Foundation, which is co-sponsoring the study and ,a member of NIC’s COVID-19 research advisory committee. “This research will help protect older adults and ultimately save lives.”

NORC Senior Vice President Caroline Pearson will direct the project. NIC Chief Economist Beth Burnham Mace and NIC Healthcare Principal Ryan Brooks will oversee the project for NIC.

Pearson and Mace were two of the authors on the NIC-funded “middle market” study published in Health Affairs last year. That study found that 54% of the 14.4 million middle-income older adults in 2029 in the United States will lack the financial resources to pay for senior housing and care, and a combination of public and private efforts will be needed to address the looming crisis.

For the new study, other NIC research advisory committee members include Ardeshir Hashmi, M.D., chair for geriatric innovation and director of the Center for Geriatric Medicine at Cleveland Clinic; Bob Kramer, NIC co-founder and strategic adviser, and founder and president of Nexus Insights; David Nash, M.D., founding dean emeritus at Jefferson College of Population Health; Arif Nazir, M.D., chief medical officer of Signature Healthcare and president of AMDA, the Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine; Kevin O’Neil, M.D., chief medical officer of ALG Senior; and Anne Tumlinson, CEO of ATI Advisory.