With the Senior Living Innovation Forum just a couple weeks away, we thought it would be fitting to jump-start the conversation and ask our attendees….
“What excites you about the future of the senior living industry?”
The CEOs and executives we spoke to had one thing in common: a passionate belief that the industry is evolving for the better.
When looking to the future, each answer was tied around the theme of enormous untapped opportunity and potential. As one respondent eloquently summed up, “I’m excited by the fact that the industry will be turned on its head.”
The wide majority agreed that boomers are redefining senior housing--and are excited to step up to the challenge of reinventing products and services for this new, more demanding customer. The belief that we will be able to engage the active senior citizen of today to live their best life possible persisted among the entire group. Also acknowledged is the relative infancy of the industry, providing companies on the forefront of change a platform to outperform the competition.
These opportunities will be afforded by cutting-edge technological innovations, which will enable more efficient care delivery. Technology will allow residents to “customize” their experience--and many attendees expressed enthusiasm over providing seniors meaningful experiences to choose from. Other common areas for opportunity mentioned were:
The ability to be at the center of coordinating care and enhancing quality of life
Edging from a real estate reliant industry to one driven by technological solutions
Elevating the role of professional caregivers for higher quality care
Moving away from “housing” models to focus on lifestyle & purpose
We also thought it would be beneficial to pose the following question to an industry ripe for disruption:
''What concerns you about the future of the senior living industry?''
Concerns of over-saturated markets surfaced, as well as over-regulation and the challenge of creating products suited for the middle market--not just the high-end. The issue of affordability for residents without sacrificing amenities was top-of-mind for attendees.
But not surprisingly, the most common concern was the lack of a qualified workforce amid a swelling need for senior living services. Seventy percent of respondents noted the shortage of qualified caregivers available, plus issues of retention beyond just recruitment. With the need for a million more workers in the industry in the next 10 years, many are worried about not just the talent gap but the ability to keep workers trained on the skills that quickly-evolving technology demands.
Technological advances were found to be a double-edged sword. The potential of “high tech” replacing “high touch” was mentioned, as attendees want to retain an emphasis on connection and compassion in each interaction. Though the majority expressed excitement over the new opportunities tech brings, equally noted are the challenges of being able to keep up and stay relevant.
Our conversations with the leaders initiating change in the industry drove home the fact that senior living is doing anything but resting in place. In fact, it’s moving forward just as fast as the active, savvy customer that it’s striving to better serve.