Consumer inquiries, tours and move-ins to senior living communities still remain at lower levels than last year, but the industry generally is seeing encouraging signs as some COVID-19-related restrictions are relaxed, according to a new report from Denver-based Enquire.

“In comparison to April, we saw mostly positive increases in May in regard to inquiries, tours and move-ins. In the month of May, inquiries were down only 21% from the prior year, while April was down 42%,” Enquire Chief Revenue Officer Erin Hayes said in a statement. “I suspect we will see this positive upswing continue into June and July.” 

Overall, senior living experienced a 27% drop in inquiries, a 65% drop in initial tours and a 51% drop in move-ins in May compared with last year. But inquiries were 22% higher than in April, and May move-outs were 38% lower when compared with the prior year. Move-in averages also increased by just over 10% from April to May.

Digital inquiries remain strong for May 2020 in comparison with last year, including website performance, social media and internet advertising. Web form submissions overall increased, with 20% more web forms submitted in May as compared with last year. Professional referrals also remain strong for all care levels, Enquire said. 

For May, independent living was the least affected care setting, with communities in most states still receiving inquiries at a similar rate as 2019, whereas assisted living and memory care experienced a 33% decrease in inquiries across all regions. Life plan communities saw a consistent drop in inquiries when comparing May 2020 with May 2019.

The COVID-19 pandemic threw the senior living industry into turmoil in several ways, forcing providers to adjust rapidly.

Enquire aggregated actual sales and marketing data from more than 2,200 senior living communities offering independent living only, independent and assisted living, assisted living, assisted living and memory care, and stand-alone memory care communities. 

Organizations reported spending time and money updating websites with COVID-19 banners that link to blogs, announcements and updated information, as well as new content, video and marketing automation to distribute personalized and timely communications to prospective residents and family members. Communities moving in new residents adapted their technology to efficiently and effectively screen and track their marketing and sales results.

These dramatic shifts in the sales and marketing process place an even greater emphasis on using data to make smart business decisions, Enquire said.

In other coronavirus-related news:

  • The 71st American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living Convention & Expo will go on as a virtual event this year due the COVID-19 pandemic. Additional details will be shared soon, the organizations said. The news follows an announcement that the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care’s Fall Conference also will be a virtual event.
  • The Empire State Association of Assisted Living in New York is kicking off a new public awareness campaign to educate the public on how assisted living communities are addressing challenges surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Bellevue, WA-based Aegis Living on Thursday announced a Coronavirus Advisory Council meant to keep residents and staff members safe and healthy during the pandemic and beyond. The body will meet four times annually starting in July, with other ad-hoc meetings as needed. The council is launching with seven physicians and medical experts representing disciplines critical to the health of older adults, including epidemiology, immunology, geriatrics, psychology and naturopathy, among others.
  • Dozens of asymptomatic coronavirus cases were discovered at Hillsborough County, FL, assisted living communities, nursing homes and group homes for adults with disabilities after the county announced an aggressive testing plan for facilities.
  • Retirement community residents discuss what changes they’ve made that they will keep after COVID-19.
  • The Indiana State Department of Health Epidemiology Resource Center is rolling out outdoor family visitation guidelines for assisted living communities and nursing homes.
  • Tennessee still has work left to test for COVID-19 in all assisted living communities and nursing homes, state data show.
  • State regulators hit a Lakeland, FL, assisted living community with an admissions moratorium after they said the community did not take proper safeguards in protecting residents and staff members from COVID-19.
  • The South Dakota Department of Health is completing its mass COVID-19 testing at assisted living communities and nursing homes across the state.
  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed 2020-2021 state budget revisions will result in elderly and disabled residents losing their in-home support from MediCal and “forcing” them into assisted living communities and nursing homes “ravaged” by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a Bay Area physician.
  • Researchers for the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing at Trinity College have released a new report that delves into the internet habits and behaviors of adults 50 and older in Ireland. It’s part of efforts to help shape policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The City of Evanston, IL, lays out its efforts to support long-term care and congregate living facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.