Senior Living Occupancy Trends – A Bit More Data


I’ve been closely watching the post-pandemic recovery of the senior care and living industries. In the past sixty days or so, I’ve written a number of articles/posts on occupancy recovery, factors impacting recovery, and factors that may further stress recovery trends.  Within these posts/articles, reference material exists from sources like Fitch, National Investment Center (NIC), etc.  These most recent posts are here:

The trends that are out there today suggest slow, steady improvement but as I have written and cautioned, headwinds remain.  One such major headwind is the stagnant real estate market and its position of nearly becoming illiquid for sellers.  This headwind significantly impacts senior housing and CCRCs.

A second major headwind for care segments (AL and IL) is staffing or more succinctly, attracting and retaining competent, qualified care staff.  The inability to staff adequately for resident care needs dictates how many people a facility can care for and whether or not, new referrals can be safely accommodated.

A recent data release from NIC highlights these challenges and how the same, are impacting occupancy.

  • Majority AL projects are closest to pre-pandemic levels.
  • Inventory growth (new units) is the slowest it has been in decades thus, providing some opportunity for occupancy gains within existing projects.

The NIC highlights are here: Seniors-Housing NIC 2023 2nd Quarter Data

Labor remains a significant issue for all provider types but more so, for care providers such as Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing, Home Health, etc.  Gains in occupancies are uniquely tied, positively and negatively, to staff availability.  Improvements in operating results, financial, are also tied to staff availability from an expense standpoint.  Sourcing staff resources from high-cost options such as agencies erodes margin and restricts productivity.

In May, a report from AHCA (American Health Care Association) and NCAL (National Center for Assisted Living), highlighted the staffing challenges.  The report is available here: JOBS REPORT MAY 2023 Some key data points are as follows.

  • Nursing homes are short 189,000 workers to return to pre-pandemic levels.
  • The pandemic produced a loss of 245,000 jobs.
  • The SNF workforce is at levels not seen since 1995.
  • All long-term care employees are at a 13 year low.


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