Posted in on November 23, 2016

Looming Senior Living Labor Shortage, Ongoing Sponsorship Changes – What Marketing Can Do

This post is part of a series sharing inspiration and actionable insights from the 2016 LeadingAge Annual Meeting, for non-profit senior living communities and service providers – “organizations dedicated to making America a better place to grow old.” Click here for previous posts.

Session: “Creating Stronger Organizations Through Aggressive Growth Strategies”

Speakers: Pamela Claassen, American Baptist Homes of the West; Mary Muñoz, Ziegler

In 2016, the size of the 65+ population starts to significantly outpace the 5–under-population, meaning the availability of direct care workers will have a significant shortage, as we heard from senior living leaders at this year’s LeadingAge national conference.

“By 2020 the main labor pool of direct-care workers will only increase by about 1% compared to the demand for these workers increasing by 48%. Caregiver support ratio began falling beginning in 2011.”

Chart - growth in demand for direct care workers - LeadingAge 2016

In addition to being a concern for care providers, the labor shortage also is a driver of senior living growth, repositioning and affiliation, said Mary Muñoz of Ziegler.

Many senior living organizations are responding to the labor challenge and other pressures by changing their ownership / sponsorship structure.

In these industry sponsorship transitions, not-for-profit to for-profit outpaces all other shifts and has since 2010, as this chart from Ziegler Investment Banking illustrates.

Ziegler chart - senior living sponsorship changes - not for profit to for profit

We appreciated this video from video the healthcare / senior living experts at BB&T Capital Markets specific to sponsorship transitions. It provides additional context for this trend and speaks to some of the opportunities that can be seized by proactive non-profit retirement communities.


As Lynn Daly, Managing Director for BB&T Capital Markets Senior Living Group, says in the video, you need to get ready if you want to seize opportunities as they arise.

While Daly was focused on prepping board members, we feel that advice applies to sales and marketing leaders as well.


It’s time to work harder to stay on top of your game.

Continue to hone and grow skills, seeking out best practices and inspiration not only from non-profit senior living, but also from for-profit senior living and even outside of the industry.

Before joining Creating Results, I served as Vice President of Marketing and Sales for a large system of not-for-profit senior living communities. Based on that experience, the biggest tip I can provide is to include business acumen in the sales and marketing skillset you are refining.

Business acumen is often overlooked when talking about sales and marketing.

However, understanding the business impact of all sales/marketing decisions can help your organization prepare for whatever repositionings or sponsorship changes may be coming down the road.

Your team should be able to answer the following questions and more:

  • What is the financial impact of vacant units
  • What care levels are your revenue dependencies
  • What happens to financials when an entrance fee or monthly fee discount is given
  • What is the impact of different contract types on the organizations financials
  • What percentage of total operating budget are marketing expenditures

Strengthening business acumen and the rest of your skillset will position any sales marketing leader – and the entire organization – to respond to external influences such as labor shortages. And you’ll be more ready to seize affiliations, mergers or acquisitions opportunities in the future.

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