Largest Senior Living Providers Struggle to Maintain Resident Satisfaction Amid Labor Shortage and Lingering Effects of Pandemic, J.D. Power Finds

November 17, 2021

Gripped by a nationwide labor shortage and continuing challenges stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, the largest U.S. senior living providers are struggling to meet resident expectations when it comes to building and grounds upkeep and staff retention. According to the J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Senior Living Satisfaction Study,SM released today, overall satisfaction scores declined significantly in 2021. The study evaluates resident satisfaction with the top independent living providers as well as family member satisfaction with the top providers of assisted living/memory care communities.

“Senior living community residents and their families were incredibly appreciative of the services they received at the height of the pandemic,” said Andrea Stokes, senior living practice leader at J.D. Power. “Now we are seeing a growing frustration, especially among independent living residents. Clearly, the labor shortage is having an effect here, with some of the sharpest satisfaction declines observed in areas related to community and apartment maintenance. For communities that have been putting off investments in building improvements, now is the time to focus on these projects and make sure residents are seeing the results.”

Following are some key findings of the 2021 study:

  • Overall resident satisfaction declines: The average overall satisfaction score among residents of independent living facilities is 738 (on a 1,000-point scale), which is down 23 points from a year ago. Among family members/decision-makers with loved ones at assisted living/memory care communities, overall satisfaction this year is 825, which is down 12 points from 2020.
  • Labor shortage rears its head: Aspects of the senior living experience showing the sharpest declines this year are community building and grounds and staff—areas that have been severely affected by the nationwide labor shortage. Among those in independent living, resident satisfaction with community buildings and grounds declines 35 points this year. Among decision makers for those in assisted living/memory care, satisfaction with community buildings and grounds declines 16 points.
  • Pandemic fatigue weighs on results: Declines in resident satisfaction this year also track consistently with continued reductions in amenities and activities offered due to the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Qualitative comments from senior living residents—a population that was among the first to be vaccinated for COVID-19—highlight frustration with lack of access to swimming pools, loss of busing to outside activities and access to informal spaces for private use.

Study Rankings

Life Care Services ranks highest in independent living resident overall satisfaction for a third consecutive year, with a score of 817. Atria Senior Living (742) ranks second.

Atria Senior Living ranks highest in family member/decision-maker overall satisfaction with assisted living and memory care providers, each with a score of 845. Senior Lifestyle (831) ranks second and Enlivant (828) ranks third.

The J.D. Power U.S. Senior Living Satisfaction Study measures resident satisfaction with the nation’s largest providers1 of independent living for seniors and family member/decision-maker satisfaction with the largest providers of assisted living/memory care services. Overall satisfaction is measured across six factors of the senior living experience (listed in alphabetical order): community buildings and grounds; community staff; dining; price paid for services received; resident activities; and resident apartment/living unit. The study is based on 3,590 responses from residents living in an independent community—or from family members/decision-makers on behalf of residents of assisted living/memory care communities—within the previous three years. Reponses were collected from June through September 2021.

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