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Senior Living Communities Closing -- Bad News or Good News?

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By Steve Moran

This story was birthed as so many are in an email that started out, “Did you see this?” and a link to an article in the Boston Business Journal titled More than 600 workers will be cut as Kindred facilities close in Massachusetts. At first blush this looks like a horrible thing. Senior communities closing, residents being forced to move and team members losing their jobs.

Terrible, right?

Maybe, actually not so terrible. To me, this is a bit like the old Zen parable Good Luck, Bad Luck, Who Knows. My initial reaction is that there is more good news than bad in this story and here is why:

  1. We have too many skilled nursing beds. According to the linked article, Massachusetts has 4,500 more beds than they need. This Kindred closure takes 600 bed out of the system and that is good for everyone else. Some experts think the need will come back as Boomers age. I wouldn’t count on that for a variety of reasons.

  1. There is a huge shortage of staff in the caring industry. No doubt these individuals will find new jobs in the industry. Not a huge dent in the problem of finding enough staff, but a little.  

  1. It will improve, by a little bit or a lot, the profitability for surrounding providers. The residents will end up going to other underutilized nursing homes and that benefits all. It will improve their bottom line and ultimately allow them to provide better care.

  1. It creates an opportunity to serve low- and middle-income elders -- There are not a lot of really good uses for old nursing homes and senior living communities except to serve seniors. I envision a smart operator who wants to serve the low- and middle-income market snapping up these obsolete buildings and turning them into wonderful low- and middle-income senior communities.

What About the Residents?

When I think of these closings it seems likely that the ones who may pay the price are the residents who are being forced to move when they may not want to. On the other hand, it may very well be that they will be better off.  

While not always true, in general it is not much fun to be a resident in a community that is struggling financially. They tend to short staff and cut costs wherever they can. My view is that it is likely a win for all.

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