Woman posting closed sign in business window due to Covid
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A California senior living community is blaming the pandemic in announcing the end of its assisted living services after 60 years.

Atascadero Christian Home, which operates as Atascadero Christian Community, announced last week that it will close its assisted living operations in June. The move will affect 29 residents and 40 staff members, according to the San Luis Obispo Tribune

An industry in crisis

The closure highlights the senior living industry’s continuing staffing challenges, along with cost increases for food, labor and insurance — challenges worsened by the pandemic. 

S&P Global Market Intelligence data confirmed that staffing shortages and pandemic fears have stressed the healthcare sector, which has been one of the leading industries to experience bankruptcies so far in 2022.

Citing almost 50 senior living community bond delinquencies recovered over the past two years, Moody’s Investors Service recently concluded that senior living was “the most poorly positioned sector to withstand the pandemic.”

Argentum has estimated that the senior living industry has amassed more than $30 billion in losses over the course of the pandemic due to expenses related to increased wages, personal protective equipment and infection control. Yet assisted living has received only one-twelfth of the relief that skilled nursing facilities have received. 

The American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living, the American Seniors Housing Association, LeadingAge, Argentum and AMDA–The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, all have said that without additional support, providers are at risk of having to scale back services or close their doors.

The California story

Atascadero Christian Home will discontinue assisted living services by June 20, according to the news outlet. The community indicated that it was working to place residents in other communities. The operator will continue to offer independent living services.

“We’re in grief around here,” CEO Gary Taylor told the news outlet. “It is a sad day, and we want to make sure that those people that are residents here that are going to be relocated are relocated well.”

Despite pay raises, staffing levels at the assisted living community “have dwindled over the past few years, while the coronavirus pandemic increased costs for food, labor and insurance,” according to a news release announcing the cessation of the community’s assisted living services. 

“The advent of COVID, along with increased operational costs, has made it even more difficult, and it has become clear to us that we cannot continue operations,” the release stated. “These facts made financial sustainability impossible.”

The president of the Atascadero Christian Community board of trustees sent a letter to the California Community Care Licensing Division informing the agency of the end of its assisted living services after struggling with profitability for several years, according to the news outlet.