NIC Notes

Insights in Seniors Housing & Care

By: NIC  |  June 17, 2021

Veteran Operator Ken  Segarnick: “Lifestyle Is the  Differentiator”

Ideas and Discussion  |  NIC Fall Conference  |  Senior Housing  |  Skilled Nursing

As the pandemic eases, seniors housing and care operators are looking ahead. What lessons have been learned over the last 15 months to bolster consumer confidence? What strategies will boost occupancy?  


KSEGARNICK“The question now is whether we can really deliver on lifestyle,” said Ken Segarnick, chief corporate officer at Brandywine Living, a New Jersey-based operator of 32 luxury senior living communities in the Mid-Atlantic. “The game-changer is creating an environment that people want to age into.” 


An industry veteran, Segarnick is among the thought leaders attending the 2021 NIC Fall Conference in Houston. The Conference is NIC’s first in-person convening of leaders in seniors housing and care since the pandemic began and offers a chance to share ideas with others weathering the same challenges.  


Segarnick said the pandemic demonstrated that seniors housing can provide a safe environment. Acts of heroism and courage by the staff helped to protect residents from infection. Communities helped to provide early access to vaccinations.  Data show that resident outcomes have generally been favorable.


The pandemic also highlighted the fact that a senior living experience must include human interaction. Isolation became a huge issue over the course of the disease outbreak. “Human beings need social engagement in order to thrive,” said Segarnick. “As operators, we need to maximize joy and happiness to help residents have a life well lived.”  


Community programming did reach new dimensions over the last year, mostly out of necessity. Residents and families connected in creative ways through technology and social media. The customer experience became more tailored to individual preferences.  


What’s Next? 

The challenge now is to deliver a next-level lifestyle experience incorporating lessons learned. “Senior living is a consumer-driven business,” said Segarnick. “Though healthcare needs will continue to be a key element to senior living decisions, there’s more to what customers are looking for. They want to enjoy living their lives, they want a better experience.” The goal is to wrap the lifestyle experience around the care needs of residents. “Lifestyle is the differentiator,” Segarnick added.


Segarnick defines lifestyle as part choice, part engagement. Giving residents choices, based on their personal preferences, enhances their lifestyle. It could be offering different dining options or touch as small as knowing which newspaper the resident likes. “Small details build broader experiences,” said Segarnick.  


Engagement is also key to a rewarding lifestyle. But true engagement goes well beyond the basic activities on the daily calendar and includes all dimensions of wellbeing to provide joy and social enrichment.  


Segarnick challenged operators to translate the personal preferences of residents into exciting experiences tailored for them. “Our residents want engagement that meets them where they are,” he said.   


Real estate is part of the lifestyle equation post-pandemic. Residents want more space and connectivity with the outdoors. Common areas should be big and open. Residents want larger apartments to enjoy their own space too. “Where people live is an essential element of lifestyle,” said Segarnick.  


He admitted that more work needs to be done to rebuild consumer confidence in seniors housing and care. But he noted, “Consumer confidence is not something marketed or sold, but earned.”  


Post pandemic, consumers want a more robust senior living option, and providing that will have a direct impact on the operator’s bottom line.  

About NIC

The National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to support access and choice for America’s seniors by providing data, analytics, and connections that bring together investors and providers.

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