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Irvine, CA-based Sabra Health Care REIT is joining an alliance of senior living industry leaders and companies to provide more healthy and safe indoor living spaces for residents and staff.

As an alliance member in WISE (Wellness Innovation in Senior Environments) initiative, Sabra will participate in the Well Living Lab, founded as a Delos and Mayo Clinic collaboration, to accelerate research in clinical studies to improve indoor spaces in senior living communities. 

New York-based Delos, which provides technology and products to make indoor spaces more healthful, launched the WISE initiative with senior living industry leaders, with the Rochester, MN-based Well Living Lab conducting the research.

“Working with Delos and the Well Living Lab to assess alternatives available to address critical health and wellness issues in senior facilities and advise owners and operators on appropriate and cost-effective solutions will benefit the industry, our operators and, most importantly, the residents and patients cared for in our facilities,” Sabra CEO Rick Matros said in a statement.

The initiative with Sabra expands on a research partnership with investment management firm Harrison Street, which is leading the first of several studies that will look at the ways that circadian lighting might improve health and cognitive function of older adults in senior living communities.

“Understanding how elements of the indoor environment impact residents’ health will provide actionable insights and strategies in designing and operating communities that support enhanced wellness for our seniors,” Harrison Street Chief Impact Officer Jill Brosig said in a statement. 

Sabra initially will investigate how to improve skilled nursing facility indoor air quality via portable air filtration. A second phase of the study will examine how building improvements might reduce employee stress and burnout and potentially lower the incidence of resident falls while improving cognitive health.

Well Living Lab Executive Director Barbara Spurrier said that the air quality research expands on a previous study that studied portable air filtration’s effects on air quality in a simulated classroom environment. The lab seeks to extend that investigation into senior living environments.

WELL Health-Safety Rating

In addition to the research collaboration, Sabra also is encouraging and supporting the operators in its portfolio to pursue WELL Health-Safety Rating as a part of its ongoing environmental, social and governance initiatives. The rating, from the International WELL Building Institute, is for new and existing buildings and spaces and focuses on operational policies and maintenance protocols to address health and safety challenges during the pandemic and beyond.

Chicago-based Enlivant, an independent living, assisted living and memory care operator with a large presence in Sabra’s portfolio, recently was named the first senior living provider to achieve the WELL Health-Safety rating for facility operations and management across its entire portfolio of 215 communities.

“The WISE initiative is fully aligned with Sabra’s strategy of investing in assets that embody the most forward-thinking approaches,” Matros said. “We believe what happens inside our buildings is what matters the most and continuously seek out innovative solutions that improve the lives and experiences of our operators.”

Approximately 20% of Sabra’s portfolio consists of managed or leased senior living properties, with skilled nursing representing another 60%. In addition to Enlivant, among other operators in the portfolio are Holiday Retirement, North American Healthcare, Signature Healthcare, Avamere Family of Companies, Acadia Healthcare, Healthmark Group, The McGuire Group and CommuniCare.