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Brookdale Senior Living and Enlivant tied with the highest overall satisfaction scores among assisted living and memory care providers in the J.D. Power 2022 U.S. Senior Living Satisfaction Study.

According to the study results, released today, Brookdale and Enlivant achieved overall satisfaction scores of 832 out of a possible 1,000 points, followed by Sunrise Senior Living with a score of 831. Atria Senior Living (830) and Senior Lifestyle (820) rounded out the top five in the assisted living/memory care segment.

Brookdale also topped the list of assisted living/memory care providers in 2020.

Independent living residents ranked Life Care Services highest in overall satisfaction for the fourth consecutive year, with a score of 841, followed by Five Star Senior Living at 739. Brookdale (726), Atria (708) and Senior Lifestyle (694) rounded out the top five providers in the independent living segment.

Overall satisfaction among independent living providers declined for a second year in a row, whereas assisted living and memory care providers saw positive trends continue among family and decision makers, according to the study results.

Andrea Stokes, J.D. Power senior living practice leader, told McKnight’s Senior Living that she was surprised at how little movement there was, up or down, with the overall satisfaction scores.

“Coming out of the pandemic, I think it’s good we’re not seeing big swings either way, but we do know that there are still these lingering pandemic effects on independent living residents and assisted living family members,” Stokes said. “But it does seem like things are improving overall.”

Although satisfaction scores were pulled down by concerns about communication, deferred maintenance and building improvements, dining services was a bright spot for senior living communities coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The annual study, first released in 2018, evaluates resident satisfaction with the largest independent living providers, as well as family member and decision-maker satisfaction with the largest assisted living and memory care providers.

“The key for senior living executives during this transition is to ramp up communication with residents and their families,” Stokes said. “Now is the time when both frontline staff and executive teams must be highly visible, accessible and forthcoming about facility management.”

Overall satisfaction scores among independent living residents was 734 on a 1,000-point scale — down four points from last year, marking the second consecutive year of decline in satisfaction. The largest declines were reported with community staff members, down 12 points, and community buildings and grounds, down 10 points.

Stokes said that J.D. Power surmised that the satisfaction decline is centered around staffing challenges that communities are experiencing, as well as maintenance  deferred during the pandemic.

“Especially for independent living, those residents expect a certain level of service,” Stokes said, adding that satisfaction with maintenance and upkeep may apply to both living units as well as common areas and exterior grounds. “Communities are facing staffing challenges, but in terms of the investment, providers should make sure things are getting repaired that need to be repaired.”

Assisted living and memory care providers fared better, with average overall satisfaction scores at 829 — up four points from a year ago, following a 12-point decline in 2021 from 2020. Those providers saw the biggest gains in resident activities, up 10 points.

But the assisted living/memory care segment saw mixed results on communication. Overall satisfaction scores climbed 141 points, with family members and decision-makers perceiving it as “very easy” to contact communities’ executive directors. But less than half (47%) of respondents said that it was easy to contact management at a loved one’s community.

Stokes noted that communication with family members about their loved ones already is important, but where communities are lacking is in providing access to senior management at the community.

Dining services emerged as a bright spot, with independent living satisfaction scores up 15 points from 2021 and the assisted living/memory care segments experiencing an eight-point increase over last year’s score.

Overall satisfaction is measured across six factors, including community buildings and grounds, community staff, dining, price paid for services received, resident activities and resident apartment/living unit.

The 2022 study is based on 2,715 responses from independent living residents and from family members/decision-makers answering on behalf of assisted living/memory care residents. Responses were collected between May and August.