Why Family-Owned Assisted Living Facilities Are Raising the Standard of Care
As the population ages, the country’s assisted living care needs are increasing. Family-owned personal care assisted living facilities are stepping up by raising the standard of care.
The Trends Behind Rising Care Needs
According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 35 million Americans aged 65 or older in 2000. In 2019, reports the Administration for Community Living (ACL), there were 54.1 million Americans aged 65 or older, which was 16% of the population. By 2040, it’s projected that 21.6% of the population will be aged 65 or older.
The number of older Americans is surging – and many of these seniors want to age in their homes for as long as possible. The AARP’s Home and Community Preferences Survey found that 77% of adults aged 50 and older have this preference.
Additionally, for many seniors, the pandemic may have delayed a move into assisted living. The National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC) says senior housing occupancy levels reached new lows in 2021. In the fourth quarter of 2021, assisted living occupancy fell 1.3 percentage points to reach 77.7%. The chief operating officer of NIC said move-ins had slowed due to moratoriums designed to keep residents safe.
Between the aging population and the delayed entrance into assisted living care, facilities are seeing a greater number of residents who need a higher level of care.
The impact of the pandemic on assisted living facilities hasn’t been limited to occupancy trends. Lockdowns and fears about the virus meant many family members were unable to see their loved ones.
An analysis from NORC found that 64% of assisted living facilities experienced no COVID-19 deaths in 2020. Whereas this means the majority of assisted living communities did not experience deaths, it also means more than one in three did.
As assisted living communities dealt with the risks, they faced increased scrutiny from both government agencies and concerned friends and family. This increased scrutiny continues.
OSHA Penalties and the Threat of Litigation
When assisted living communities fail to provide a sufficient level of care or fail to take proper precautions against infections to protect staff and residents, fines and lawsuits can follow.
In July 2022, OSHA announced it would extend the Revised National Emphasis Program for COVID-19, which focuses on enforcement efforts for companies with workers who are at risk of infection. Senior Housing News warned that assisted living communities should expect continued vigilance as a result.
Lawsuits alleging negligence have always been a threat, but the risk may have increased due to the pandemic. A McKnights Senior Living article warns that COVID-19 has resulted in a surge in lawsuits against nursing homes and that this increased litigation could also impact assisted living and other long-term care facilities.
Raising the Standard of Care
By raising the standard of care, assisted living facilities can solve two problems. Firstly, they can meet the increased needs of the evolving senior care population. Secondly, they can protect themselves from increased scrutiny and the risk of litigation and fines.
Family-owned assisted living communities are in an excellent position to raise the bar on care. They tend to be known for a caring and community-focused environment, which is exactly what many people look for in a long-term care facility.
According to SeniorLiving.org, privately-owned assisted living facilities often have fewer residents and are therefore able to provide more one-on-one care. Additionally, these facilities often have a resort-like or home-like feel with tight-knit communities.
A Risk Management Advocate
It’s easier to raise the bar when you have a risk management advocate on your side, and that’s exactly what you’ll discover with PCALIC. We tailor insurance solutions for assisted living homes, adult foster homes, and personal care homes. Coverages available include general liability insurance, workers’ compensation insurance, umbrella liability insurance, and other key policy types.