Q. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a catalyst for several changes in the design and operation of senior housing. Will these changes be permanent in a post-pandemic world?
A. Yes, many of those changes are likely to be a permanent part of senior housing in the future.
Although most of the changes have been accelerated by COVID-19, many of them inevitably were going to be trends of the future. Those changes have affected many areas of senior housing, including:
- Design issues: Smaller/self-contained neighborhoods, satellite dining/activity areas, enhanced outside areas, limited/restricted points of entry for residents, staff and visitors, isolated visitation areas;
- Higher cost of operations: Labor costs, personal protective equipment, testing kits, cleaning/disinfecting supplies, insurance;
- Digital communication: FaceTime, Skype, Zoom meetings, virtual tours/marketing encounters;
- Marketing: Enhanced websites, virtual tours and marketing encounters;
- Telehealth: Remote resident monitoring; health-tracking devices; virtual healthcare consultations with residents, family, staff and healthcare professionals.
These are a few of the many trends and changes that now are becoming our “new normal.” These changes are not without challenges in existing communities and will represent opportunities for the new communities of the future. It is becoming clear that these trends will need to be addressed to help older adults and their families feel safe, engaged and secure in senior housing in the future.
Editor’s note: This content appeared in print as the “You’ve Got Questions? We’ve Got Answers” column.