Assisted living facilities (ALFs) are a critical part of the long-term healthcare landscape. Thousands of facilities across the United States and over a million residents depending on the care they receive from these facilities. These facilities experience daily operational challenges and risks. To protect the business interests, staff members, and residents of ALFs, assisted living facility insurance serves as the backbone of a robust risk management plan. Even with this valuable insurance in place, facility managers must understand the most significant challenges they face in an ever-changing healthcare landscape.
The Challenge of Competition Within Long-Term Care
For many decades, America’s seniors relied on the services provided by nursing homes and ALFs. These facilities offer some of the comforts of home in addition to qualified medical care, assistance with daily tasks, and entertainment opportunities. Today, however, the long-term healthcare sector is undergoing dramatic changes, primarily in the growing popularity of specialized senior housing options.
The demand for senior care has only grown larger in recent years as America’s population has changed. What has created competition in this formerly stable sector, however, is the rise of facilities that offer so-called “memory care,” an option for those with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Senior housing that recreates at-home living is a break from traditional nursing homes, as is the rise of home healthcare spurred by an interest in aging in place.
Challenges in Specialization
To maintain their prominence and withstand competition from other senior care options, ALFs have begun to adopt more specialized care services and programs. These services and programs, however, are accompanied by significant challenges for facility owners. These challenges include:
Financial considerations – adding specialized services like memory care centers to existing ALFs can be costly. Regulatory licensing and fees for new services may be needed. Updates may need to be made to assisted living facility insurance policies to cover new liabilities as services are added.
Staffing hurdles – the long-term care industry has long suffered from a lack of qualified caregivers. Caregivers and support staff with training in specialized treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia may be in short supply, requiring facility managers to cast a wide recruitment net. Recruitment and training of new hires for specialized care also tend to eat into tight financial budgets.
Facility infrastructure – for many new services added to ALFs, specialized equipment and technologies may need to be brought into the facility. For memory care centers, security monitoring systems and door alarms/automatic locks to prevent elopement are some of the most common new technologies needed. As more long-term care centers adopt digital recordkeeping and patient information-sharing systems, these costs must be accounted for as new services are added.
Shifting Demographics: A Challenge for Long-Term Care
As mentioned earlier, America’s population is aging. According to statistics compiled by the Census Bureau, people aged 65 or older will outnumber individuals under 18 for the first time in United States history. The growing population of seniors will naturally need advanced care at some point in their lives and may turn to long-term care facilities like ALFs for this care. The challenge for existing facilities, particularly those investigating new services and support, is in market saturation. If a given community already has established memory care centers or home-like senior living facilities, it can be hard to differentiate one facility from its competitors. Facility managers must carefully balance emerging needs with financial and staff limitations, and must adopt rigorous risk management practices. Assisted living facility insurance remains the foundation of risk management. With this valuable insurance in place, ALFs can better adapt to the challenges in their highly-competitive and evolving healthcare markets.
About Caitlin Morgan
Caitlin Morgan specializes in insuring assisted living facilities and nursing homes and can assist you in providing insurance and risk management services for this niche market. Give us a call to learn more about our programs at (877) 226-1027.