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Staffing challenges affect where and how senior living developments are being built

Senior housing facilities are locked in competition to attract workers, and the issue is affecting where the next generation of projects will be built.

Since the pandemic began, long-term care facilities have been at the center of some of the pandemic’s most difficult challenges, including finding ways to stop the viral spread in dense communities and limiting contact while still providing essential services and care.

One of the biggest challenges has been senior housing's labor shortage. According to a survey by the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living, between June and September last year, 99% of nursing homes and 96% of assisted living communities said they were dealing with staff shortages. According to Ikeogu Imo, senior vice president of multifamily lending and neighborhood investments at the D.C. Housing Finance Agency, the rising costs associated with labor in senior living communities keep him up at night.

With the senior living industry continuing to hemorrhage workers as demand for its services is expected to rise, providers have been forced to get creative in finding ways to lure staff into open positions, and in many cases, that means changing the calculus on where senior living communities should be built. Increasingly developers are evaluating potential sites based on access to transit for workers. And for many cities planners and lenders that is creating a tremendous shift in the senior living market.

Being close to a Metro station will allow you to pull from a larger pool of employees and a larger pool of associates and can be critical to the success of that facility. Many developers consequently are going back to the drawing board when designing facilities. They are consulting with designers to consider, for example, how the two-tower development could be safer and therefore more attractive to residents — but just as appealing to potential staffers.

The opportunities available to workers in the industry have changed dramatically as a result of the pandemic. Many of the frontline workers in the industry that used to work two jobs now only need to work one as wages have shot up. Besides higher pay and more flexible hours, the developers of these facilities are redesigning locker rooms to include natural light and considering offering its employees partial access to the residents' gyms as well as shuttles to pick workers up from the nearest transit stops to simplify their commutes. Even architects have been dragged into the staffing challenge by having to design for both residents and workers.

Residents are adapting to new technologies, especially in the realm of communications and health monitoring systems. Developers are increasingly integrating the use of technology, especially touchless tech that keeps surfaces clean and other smart home technologies that simplify living experiences for residents.

There are even certain parts of the country and certain spaces where developers are seeing union contracts for workers require things like clean air filtration systems. The game has changed. But if you want a company that is on the cutting edge of development contain our team at

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