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3 Senior Living Trends to Keep an Eye on for 2023

3 Senior Living Trends to Keep an Eye on for 2023

Last year’s economic challenges stretched senior living communities. The supply chain was still sluggish. Gas prices – and the cost of everything else – soared. The Fed warded off inflation with interest rate hikes. And the COVID-19 pandemic was still classified as a public health emergency.

And although we are not yet in a recession, experts agree one seems increasingly likely this year. The threat itself is enough to change consumer (and employee) behavior. With that in mind, we’re highlighting three senior living trends that senior living communities can expect this year.

1. Value-First Communication Will Help Get Residents and Families On Board with Upcoming Rate Increases

Many senior living communities will be forced to increase their rates in 2023, and communicating the change with residents must be done carefully. Value-first communication will play a key role in keeping current residents happy and attracting new ones.

After all, residents don’t choose your community because it’s the cheapest. They choose it because your goals align with their goals. Value-first communication reminds them of that, which makes higher rates easier to swallow.

Here are some tips on messaging with value first:

  • Start with familiarity and emotional connection. Senior living communities are just that – communities. In communications about rate increases, start with a reminder of something residents already know, appreciate, and love about where they live.
  • Highlight your community’s mission. Remind residents that your community is dedicated to promoting holistic wellness and independent living – or whatever your mission is. 
  • Demonstrate that your values resonate with those of residents. Do you have high satisfaction scores? Low turnover rates? Share the numbers that demonstrate the effectiveness of your work.
  • Reinforce your commitment to delivering on values and services. A rate increase will ensure that you’re able to foster the community values and provide the high level of services that residents have come to expect. These are things that you are not willing to sacrifice. 
  • Be transparent about rate increase details. Yes, it helps to clearly state the reason for rate increases (like retaining staff in the face of inflation). But don’t just say it once, in a letter or email that might get missed. Make sure every resident and family member receives multiple notifications and has ample notice before new rates take effect.
  • Maintain a friendly, sympathetic tone. Remember that this information will be difficult for residents to digest, and the last thing they need is a cold, unfeeling, blunt message that their rates are going up. You’re in this together!

Of course, it’s much easier to communicate rate increases if that’s not the only interaction residents and families have with staff and leadership all year.

With a community engagement platform, residents can easily join – and launch – enrichment programs with the support of staff members. And when family members can directly communicate with staff and see evidence of their loved ones enjoying life, they’ll be much more receptive to a note about rate increases.

2. “Employee Experience” Will Be a Focus as Senior Living Staffing Shortages Persist

The staffing shortages that plagued senior living communities in 2022 have only slightly improved, making recruiting and retention key in 2023.

Fewer operators are reporting “severe” staff shortages – from 20 percent in early summer down to nine percent this fall. But “moderate” senior living staffing shortages are still hovering above 70 percent.

Improving employee experience is one way senior living communities can boost recruitment and retention. Employee experience encompasses all the ways employees interact with your community, from coworker relationships to job duties to overall wellbeing. Some experts divide these experiences into three categories:

  • Culture: Company culture is related to how employees feel while they’re working. It’s all about stated values and whether all aspects of the company – from management style to benefits – bear out those values.  
  • Physical environment: This is everything employees see, hear, taste, and touch, from their desk chairs to elevator music to snacks. 
  • Technology: These are all the tools employees need to do their jobs, from shift scheduling apps to onsite hardware.

Employee experience is a big umbrella, but even small changes can deliver significant benefits. The right software, for example, can cut the time Life Enrichment Managers spend on calendar management by as much as 80 percent.

Another example: our bi-directional communication tool can engage staff members via automated employee check-ins. For instance, an operator might use the bi-directional communication tool to send automated text messages to new employees at 30, 60, and 90 days of employment.

The goal? Make sure every employee feels both welcomed and heard. And because the communication tool automates these messages, community leaders won’t need to manually track and send them. This helps ensure each message reaches the right employee at the right time.

This is all to say: senior living technology doesn’t just make residents’ lives better. It also reduces staff workloads, which helps limit job-related stress and reduce turnover. But not all senior living technology is made equal. For staff to save time – and deliver more personalized care to residents – the technology must be easy to use. That means the onboarding process is clear, the interface is simple, and the learning curve is manageable.

3. Corporate Teams Will Play a Bigger Role in Community Operations

As the senior living industry continues to rebound from the pandemic, many new business strategies are emerging, whether that’s making further inroads into the active adult market or offering ancillary services.

But one senior living trend we have our eye on relates to the growing role corporate teams will play in community operations. And that could very well start with staffing and recruiting.

Typically, an individual community oversees hiring for its available positions. But with the continual staffing shortage, this means there’s a near-constant need to maintain some recruiting function within a community. That pulls administrative staff from other core duties.

When enterprise teams take over recruiting, it relieves the pressure – and workload – of staff members at individual communities, which, in turn…:

  1. Reduces burnout that stems from the recruiting work.
  2. Allows staff to focus more time on residents and their families.

But this change is easier said than done. To successfully centralize operations, executive teams need greater visibility into the communities they oversee. They also need a way to efficiently communicate with employees in these communities. After all, it’s not as though enterprise teams can feasibly travel to each of the communities they manage and speak with staff.

This is one instance where communication platforms that generate actionable data points and offer custom reporting will prove their worth. These platforms create a window into each community’s world and equip executives with the insights they need to improve resident care, boost satisfaction rates, and both attract and retain talent.

Invest with a Trusted Tech Partner in 2023

All signs point to more economic turbulence in 2023. Your business, staff, and residents will likely all face challenges. Partnering with a senior living tech provider like Icon can help you seamlessly integrate senior living technology that will mitigate some of these challenges and help you support staff, promote resident wellness, and foster community. To learn more about our senior living technology solutions, request a demo.

Icon’s CEO, Ryan Galea, hosted a webinar taking a deeper dive into these 2023 trends. Use the link below to view.

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