Build­ing up, costs down for as­sisted liv­ing fa­cil­i­ties

De­mand may be peak­ing as pres­sure grows on rates

Stamford Advocate - - Business - By Alexan­der Soule; 203-842-2545; @ca­soul­man

Af­ter a build­ing boom that has re­sulted in new as­sisted liv­ing cen­ters across south­west­ern Con­necti­cut, a new sur­vey sug­gests that costs have de­clined for those who se­cure quar­ters in those fa­cil­i­ties.

In an up­dated CareS­cout study of the cost of longterm care na­tion­ally spon­sored by Gen­worth, re­searchers es­ti­mated a 3 per­cent an­nual de­cline over the past five years on av­er­age for a pri­vate room in an as­sisted liv­ing cen­ter in south­west­ern Con­necti­cut, to $195 a day or $71,000 for a full year.

Con­necti­cut was one of just three states along with Delaware and Illi­nois to see a de­cline in the cost of as­sisted liv­ing, with fa­cil­i­ties de­signed to pro­vide health ser­vices as res­i­dents may re­quire, as well as help with other daily liv­ing needs, and op­por­tu­ni­ties for so­cial en­gage­ment and men­tal stim­u­la­tion. CareS­cout de­rives the es­ti­mates from more than 15,000 fa­cil­i­ties na­tion­ally.

De­vel­op­ers have built a num­ber of new cen­ters in south­west­ern Con­necti­cut the past sev­eral years, to in­clude Maple­wood Se­nior Liv­ing based in West­port, Bridges by Epoch and Sun­rise Se­nior Liv­ing. They are now look­ing to dif­fer­en­ti­ate their ser­vices, in­clud­ing Maple­wood, which is work­ing with West­ern Con­necti­cut Health Net­work to build a new cen­ter at the site of the for­mer Nor­walk YMCA, with plans to of­fer health ser­vices in con­junc­tion with nearby Nor­walk Hos­pi­tal.

“There’s cam­pus-like con­struc­tion that’s been done in the past, but not nec­es­sar­ily the shar­ing of the phys­i­cal struc­ture in one build­ing where you’ve got th­ese com­min­gled uses,” said Chris Smith, CEO of Maple­wood Health­care, in an Au­gust in­ter­view with Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia. “It’s about con­ti­nu­ity of care and how that (health care) de­liv­ery is tak­ing place.”

Na­tion­ally, con­struc­tion com­menced in the third quar­ter on nearly 1,440 new as­sisted liv­ing fa­cil­i­ties, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional In­vest­ment Cen­ter, an An­napo­lis, Md.-based or­ga­ni­za­tion that tracks the over­all mar­ket for se­nior liv­ing com­mu­ni­ties. The new projects ar­rive against an 85.3 per­cent oc­cu­pancy rate on av­er­age in as­sisted liv­ing cen­ters, be­low an over­all 89.3 per­cent oc­cu­pancy rate across all forms of se­nior hous­ing.

Speak­ing to in­vest­ment an­a­lysts this week, the CEO of Brook­dale Se­nior Liv­ing de­scribed as “dif­fi­cult” the cur­rent com­pet­i­tive land­scape for se­nior liv­ing com­mu­ni­ties, with the com­pany’s Con­necti­cut homes in­clud­ing Brook­dale Wil­ton.

“Con­struc­tion as a per­cent­age of se­nior hous­ing in­ven­tory re­mains near his­tor­i­cal highs, yet it is start­ing to abate,” said Brook­dale CEO Cindy Baier in a Mon­day con­fer­ence call. “New open­ings are tak­ing longer to fill up or sta­bi­lize (and) this may put ad­di­tional pres­sure on un­der­writ­ing fu­ture new con­struc­tion. While the slower fill-up may put some pres­sure on rates, we have not seen wide­spread dis­count­ing.”

The de­fla­tion­ary pres­sure on as­sisted liv­ing is oc­cur­ring even as costs in­crease, par­tic­u­larly with re­gard to la­bor, as noted in the CareS­cout and Gen­worth sur­vey, which called it “a sim­ple case of sup­ply and de­mand” with not enough work­ers for an ever-ex­pand­ing num­ber of fa­cil­i­ties and pa­tients, par- tic­u­larly those re­quir­ing help with Alzheimer’s dis­ease, which re­quires more train­ing.

In ad­di­tion to nurs­ing home care, CareS­cout cal­cu­lated rates for other forms of se­nior and in­valid care, to in­clude home health care and su­per­vised day care for adults out­side of their homes. The cost of a home health aide worker was up 2 per­cent in south­west­ern Con­necti­cut to $24.50 an hour or $154 a day.

CareS­cout cal­cu­lated a daily rate of $494 for a semi-pri­vate nurs­ing home room in south­west­ern Con­necti­cut, or $180,000 for a full year’s care. That pulled Con­necti­cut’s av­er­age an­nual rate up to $151,000, sec­ond high­est in the na­tion.

South­west­ern Con­necti­cut nurs­ing homes have in­creased rates for shared rooms 4 per­cent an­nu­ally on av­er­age over the past five years. That was more than dou­ble the rate of in­crease in Con­necti­cut, with Ari­zona the only state to see a lower level of in­fla­tion.

Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia file photo

Pa­tients at Nathaniel Witherell Nurs­ing Home in Greenwich en­joy a “Pooches on Pa­rade” event in 2016. In a study spon­sored by Gen­worth, re­searchers cal­cu­lated a 4 per­cent an­nual in­crease on av­er­age be­tween 2013 and 2018 in the cost of a semi-pri­vate room in a nurs­ing home in the re­gion.

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