US: skilled nurse occupancy slipped to 84.7% in April due to COVID-19 – 87% considered unviable

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An indication that predictions that up to 50% of aged care operators in the US may go out of business because of the pandemic will come true?

The latest data from the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC) reveals occupancy for nursing care facilities fell 2.2 percentage points to 84.7% in April – the first full month of the pandemic.

Compare this to April 2019 when stabilised occupancy was 87% for nursing care.

A number of nursing home operators have also reported major drops in their occupancy rates.

The NIC’s chief economist and director of outreach, Beth Mace, says the drop reflects the fall in occupancy and people moving in, as well as the impact of a number of elective surgeries being postponed.

“You often see skilled nursing properties work with patients as they come out of hospitals from elective surgeries for rehab. That had an impact on this data, as well. That explains some of the drop, that 220 basis point decline,” she said.

Ms Mace says it is also unclear how long this downward trend will continue.

“I think it’s sort of beyond anyone’s crystal ball,” she explained. “It’s largely a function of the coronavirus itself and how quickly we’ll get a vaccine, whether there will be a second wave, whether the flattening of the curve will continue, how much testing [and tracing]we can do, the extent of [personal protective equipment]out there.”

Considering many operators were already in a precarious position prior to the pandemic, the numbers do not bode well.

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