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7 Tips to Retaining More Residents in Your Senior Living Community in 2024

Published on December 19, 2023 by Sharon Morrisette

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As of September 2023, Senior Living Communities (including assisted living, independent living, and memory care) had an average occupancy rate of 84.4%, suggesting that their increased focus on marketing and successful move-ins is proving to be a successful strategy. 

However, the industry is still experiencing challenges in other areas, including high resident turnover, with the median annual resident turnover at 46.8%. 

As acquiring new residents can cost as much as seven times more than retaining existing residents (according to the US Small Business Administration and US Chamber of Commerce), it’s clear that more attention needs to be paid to reducing avoidable resident exits.

Statistics reveal, time and again, that any efforts made to retain existing residents are more successful and cost-effective than those aimed at attracting new business. 

In this article, we explore seven ways your Senior Living Community can improve its resident retention rates in 2024 and lead the way in elevating the industry standard.

1. Perfect your resident onboarding process – the first 90 days are crucial

The first 90 days can make or break a resident’s experience and directly affect their length of stay in your community. Perfecting your resident onboarding process is crucial to ensure the beginning of an engaging, productive, and harmonious relationship that will stand the test of time. First impressions really do count!

Make sure you start every new entry with a successful, solid foundation on which you can build continued resident and family engagement and satisfaction and ultimately reap all the business benefits of loyal and lasting relationships.

Read our recent article to discover six simple ways you can help new residents transition smoothly into your senior living community, making the move as easy and positive as possible for them and their families.

2. Create opportunities for your residents to build friendships – and a real sense of community

senior man putting hands together with friends at sports hall

Spending extended periods alone, without meaningful interactions with other people, not only leads to depression and anxiety in seniors but can also shorten their life expectancy.

Proactively creating opportunities for positive social connections between your residents will provide a strong sense of community and belonging, in which they’ll feel valued and supported. This is important for keeping residents engaged, healthy, and happy in your community for many years to come.

A study carried out by RealPage found that senior residents are 8% more likely to renew their contract if they make at least one friendship or personal attachment within their community. Social engagement through a book club, craft classes, exercise partner, or companionship care can all create connections that positively influence their renewal decision.

In addition, the study found that residents who know seven or more people in their living community are 47% more likely to renew and extend their stay.

So, providing frequent opportunities for your seniors to get to know each other and for friendships to blossom will significantly impact retention. Look to create a robust events calendar (and promote it via a weekly newsletter, your social media platforms, etc.), including resident-led clubs, walking groups, exercise classes, movie nights, birthday celebrations, game nights, and more. Remember to ask your residents for ideas, too!

3. Nurture your employees to boost resident retention

Your residents find their sense of community and belonging not only through their relationships with each other but also with your staff. As a result, high staff turnover rates will cause some disruption to community life and prevent strong bonds from forming – typically going hand in hand with high resident turnover. 

Improving staff retention will automatically have a positive impact on your resident retention. It’s a win-win strategy worth investing in!

There are many ways to overcome staffing issues, safeguard against high turnover, and ensure your employees are fully engaged, satisfied, and loyal to your business for the long haul. These include:

  • Offering fair pay
  • Making sure they have the tools and resources required to succeed in their roles
  • Ensuring clear and effective communication
  • Providing flexible scheduling and sufficient hours
  • Delivering training and development opportunities
  • Excelling at recognition and reward – making sure every team member feels valued and appreciated
  • Offering creative additional benefits
  • Regularly asking for their feedback and acting on it promptly

When your teams feel supported and valued, they have the energy and enthusiasm to better care for and connect with your residents – making your senior living community a healthier and happier place for everyone.

4. Leverage technology to drive family engagement

Loving Adult Daughter with Senior Mother

Involving residents’ family members – with their permission, of course – delivers winning outcomes for residents, families, your community’s staff, and your business overall. 

As well as enhancing your reputation, increasing referrals, and delivering a better resident experience with optimal results, proactive family involvement positively affects resident and staff retention.

Investing in a family portal is an excellent way to effectively coordinate services and engage family members without the need to take on additional staff. Once set up, a portal will help them easily access details and information about their loved ones’ care, schedules, important updates, new service additions, payment details, and more. 

Families can also get in touch with your team via secure messaging while you can promote activities and on-demand services, as well as track satisfaction with surveys

5. Provide home care services and programs that support your seniors in living independently for longer 

Maintaining independence is the main goal for most senior residents, so it’s vital that your community provides activities/services that support a holistic approach to wellness and promote a good quality of life. 

Doing so demonstrates that you’re tuned in to your residents’ needs and preferences while helping to ensure they can remain at home in your senior living community for longer. 

A balanced schedule of physically and mentally stimulating activities are important for encouraging your seniors to stay healthy and active, which helps promote independence.

From a physical fitness point of view, consider offering community fitness classes, walking clubs, swimming facilities, monthly health checks, guided meditations, nutritional counseling, and so on.

In addition, what health and well-being services could your senior living community offer (or add) to support your residents in their homes as their needs evolve over time, to prevent them from having to move to a higher-level care facility?

For example, in-home safety assessments, therapy treatments, nursing facilities, live-in care services, medication reminders, assistance with ADLs, transportation, and home deliveries.

Providing your residents with everything they need when they need it – including an array of on-demand home care services to meet their unique needs and support autonomy, dignity, and independence – can mean the difference between keeping them safely in their homes in your community or losing them to a more skilled facility. 

Consider pairing PACE programs with your current services if you’re not currently in a position to diversify your range. This could greatly benefit your residents, extend their time with you, and be an excellent marketing tool. 

Contact the National PACE Association (NPA) for more information on options available in your area.

6. Make sure your residents feel ‘at home’ in their apartments and the common areas of your community

Mature grey-haired woman relaxing on the sofa in casual clothes

Residents won’t give a second thought about moving out of an apartment in your senior living community if they have no connection to it. However, they will find it far more challenging to leave a property and community that truly feels like home. 

In addition to encouraging meaningful connections with neighbors and staff, it’s important to help your residents establish a connection with their new home so they simply won’t want to leave. 

Ideally, this will mean being able to decorate and create a personalized and familiar space with their own furniture, mementos, and other life treasures, including photos, books, awards, and collectibles.

Collaborating with new residents and their families to ensure they can create the ambiance they want will not only give your seniors a sense of control and independence but will also guarantee a place that feels like home to them from day one.

7. Regularly collect feedback from residents and their families — and act on it

A strong emphasis on resident and family satisfaction will give your senior living community a real edge over your competitors and impact resident turnover if done well.

One aspect of this is to regularly ask for feedback from your residents. 

Today’s seniors want to be part of a community that values their opinions, listens to their concerns, encourages open communication, and constantly strives to improve its services.

There’s a clear distinction between those senior living communities that genuinely value resident feedback and use it to their advantage and those that merely see it as an inconvenience. 

Providing pulse surveys and clear channels for sharing feedback will allow your community to gather and analyze actionable data to identify and resolve residents’ concerns quickly – boosting satisfaction and rising above your competitors in achieving sustainable business growth. 

Read our recent article for more tips and guidance on effective ways to measure and monitor your residents’ and families’ satisfaction.

We hope the ideas suggested in this article have provided some food for thought and helped you identify practical steps that your senior living community can take toward retaining more residents in 2024.

If you’d like more tips on how you can set your senior living business up for strong and steady growth throughout 2024, delve into some of our recent articles, including:

To find out how Aaniie’s home care and senior living software tools can help you tap into the growing home- and community-based services (HCBS) market, streamline operations, and seriously start expanding your business in 2024, please call our experienced team today or request a free demo.