Nearly three months into widespread awareness of the COVID-19 pandemic, data across four senior living and care property types shows COVID-19’s impact on current residents varies greatly depending on where they reside, a new survey shows.
Testing for coronavirus is most prevalent in nursing care and assisted living facilities, with confirmed positive tests highest at nursing care facilities. Residents of independent living facilities, who typically have greater mobility and fewer healthcare challenges, have the lowest percent of confirmed positive at 0.2 percent.
The analysis was conducted by the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC), a national nonprofit organization supporting access and choice in senior housing and care.
Unlike cumulative data reported by the federal government and most states, which shows growing levels of testing and positive COVID-19 cases over time, NIC’s survey offers a snapshot of the testing and reach of the disease across the senior housing and care sector by focusing only on current residents’ status on a single day. The analysis is the first to compare current residents’ status across independent living, assisted living, memory care, and nursing care properties.
“It’s important to understand how testing and reach of COVID-19 rates vary across different types of senior housing and care property types, because the residents and the services they require vary by property type,” said Brian Jurutka, NIC president and CEO. “These facilities changed procedures dramatically since the pandemic began, as testing and treatment guidelines became available. The more that is known about COVID-19 in senior care facilities over time, the more informed decisions can be about how to keep residents healthy and safe.”
Data on the impact of COVID-19 on senior care has largely been limited to skilled nursing facilities and, in some areas, assisted living facilities. It is overwhelmingly cumulative, showing a growing number of COVID-19-positive and suspected cases since the beginning of the pandemic. NIC’s point-in-time survey can offer insight into the impact of visitation policies, access to personal protective equipment, testing, and resolution of early COVID-19 cases on trends.
NIC analysts say comparing future point-in-time data can provide a fuller understanding of how COVID-19 affects older adults in independent and congregant living facilities.
“The data reinforce that COVID-19 affects residents of different types of senior living facilities differently. A main reason is because these facilities offer different levels of care and serve different populations,” Jurutka said. “Each must be considered separately to form and implement a sector-wide response.”
NIC’s “Executive Survey Insights: COVID-19” data provide a date-specific snapshot for benchmark purposes. NIC collected and analyzed COVID-19 incidence data from May 31, 2020 provided by 105 seniors housing and care operators. The data are self-reported, non-validated, and based on a convenience sample. Data are reported as operator averages to prevent skewing caused by data from larger-sized operators. Operator averages are obtained by calculating rates from each operator, and then taking an average of those rates across the sample.