The coronavirus has not negatively affected senior living community move-ins to date, according to the results of a newly released survey conducted by Activated Insights in conjunction with the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing and Care. In fact, in some cases, occupancy has seen a recent improvement.

“We were seeing new reports of families and their elderly loved ones fleeing senior housing and care properties but had not heard the same, so we thought it was strange,” said Activated Insights CEO Jacquelyn Kung, DrPH, MBA. “We conducted this survey to check the facts of what is actually occurring.”

“That’s not what we found at all,” Bob Kramer, NIC co-founder and strategic adviser, told McKnight’s Senior Living. Occupancy did not “drop like a rock,” he added.

What actually is occurring, according to the small study, is that 79% of participating operators saw no significant changes in move-outs last week and no significant changes in occupancy.

“In fact,” Kramer said, the coronavirus “actually released some pent-up demand, according to some operators — not from people shopping for the first time, but from people who had been on the fence.”

Kramer described the survey as “a snapshot.” Activated Insights conducted the phone survey of 19 operators March 18 and March 19. The operators represented 1,078 buildings and 100,899 units across independent living, assisted living and memory care operators as well as those components in continuing care retirement communities. The units account for almost 8% of the overall senior living inventory.

Several operators reported that they had stopped sales and marketing activities, including all move-ins, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Others, however, said they had continued to allow pre-scheduled move-ins to happen, although they have implemented extra steps and health screenings.

Twenty-one percent of operators reported increased occupancy, with some attributing the uptick to families realizing that they were not in a position to take care of an elderly or disabled loved one at home.

“It’s one thing to go across town on the way to or from work and check in on Mom,” Kramer hypothesized. “It’s another thing when your kids are home all day, you’re working from home, your spouse is working from home and / or you’re even in a shelter-in-place” situation.

One CEO who participated in the survey said, “They are much safer with us, since we are cleaning and screening like mad.”

Kramer said to expect more information and research from both NIC and Activated Insights, the senior care group of Great Place to Work.

“The investment community has been starved for data,” he said.