With the dawning of a new year, hiring managers and professionals within the assisted living industry are undoubtedly curious about what the next twelve months have in store. So far, it looks like 2011 is going to be a lot like 2010, with one glaring exception: healthcare reform. In March of 2010, healthcare reform was signed into law. The exact ramifications that reform will have on the assisted living industry remain unclear; however, it’s sure to make for a very interesting 2011. Other than reform, the industry appears to be on a fairly even keel for the upcoming twelve months.
Section One: Hiring in the Assisted Living and Memory Care Industry in 2011
Although the assisted living industry has not been hit as hard as other industries in terms of unemployment, it has definitely been affected by the ongoing economic crisis. As assisted living facilities scramble to cut costs wherever they can, they tend to strip away jobs that aren’t completely necessary. As a result, there may be less variety in terms of employment within the assisted living industry in 2011. Still, anyone who is embarking on a new career should put this industry at the top of their lists, as it continues to be extremely relevant and necessary.
In-Demand Positions in the Assisted Living Industry in 2011
In order to cut costs, many assisted living facilities are trending more towards hiring part-time help. Those who are flexible enough to take on part-time work will have better chances of finding work within the assisted living industry. Medical assistants continue to be very much in demand within the industry in 2011. Although some medical assistants earn certifications, many simply get by with on-the-job training. In the latter case, employers can generally pay lower salaries. As a result, medical assistants are great options in a flagging economy.
Food preparation workers are sure to be highly in demand within the assisted living industry in 2011. Although such facilities are trying to keep costs down, they have to compete with other facilities in order to stay afloat. More and more people are demanding exceptional nutrition at assisted living facilities. Therefore, the food that is being served at such facilities is trending more towards freshly prepared meals, as opposed to highly processed frozen foods. As a result, there is a greater need for food prep workers these days.
Less In-Demand Positions in the Assisted Living Industry in 2011
During boom times, assisted living facilities could afford to hire plenty of office help. Due to the suffering economy and thanks, in part, to modern technology, administrative assistants aren’t nearly as in-demand within the industry as they once were. While there will always be somewhat of a need for office workers within the assisted living industry, most facilities will be able to get by with reduced staffs. This situation is hardly unique to the industry, though – it is happening in nearly every industry, as sophisticated software programs eliminate the need for dozens of office workers per location.
Assisted living facilities will continue to join forces with healthcare providers within their communities. This could take a toll on the demand for in-house social workers at assisted living facilities. As partnerships are forged between local agencies and assisted living facilities, many facilities may choose not to hire on their own social workers. In 2011, it will be less likely than ever for an assisted living facility to have a social worker on staff – let alone several of them. In the past, social workers could find employment at such facilities with ease; in 2011, that’s not quite the case anymore.
Section Two: Assisted Living Industry Expected Growth in 2011
The famous Baby Boomer generation becomes elderly between 2010 and 2030. In 2011, then, the first wave of Boomers will become senior citizens; many of them will require assisted living services. While the overall economy is lackluster at best, the surge in the elderly population of the U.S. is sure to offset that by a significant degree. In fact, some reports predict that one in five Americans will be elderly by the year 2050. That’s definitely positive news for the assisted living industry, as more seniors will be out looking for housing than ever.
There is an interesting contrast to be expected in terms of growth within the assisted living industry in 2011. On the one hand, the poor economy is likely to keep many seniors at home with loved ones in order to save money. On the other, fewer seniors will opt for more costly independent living facilities. These contrasting forces will, at the minimum, keep the assisted living industry on an even keel for 2011. The aging Baby Boomer population, of course, may tip the balance to create a very profitable year for the industry.
Section Three: Assisted Living Industry Trends in 2011
Although hiring managers and assisted living industry professionals shouldn’t expect any major surprises in 2011, they should keep their eyes peeled for a few notable trends. Some of the year’s trends are carrying over from last year and being reinforced; others are wholly new but not necessarily earth-shattering. Still, professionals and hiring managers are wise to keep their fingers on the pulse of assisted living industry trends. Seven of the most notable trends for the next twelve months are highlighted below.
- Increased Focus on Memory Care – As more and more is learned about memory-related illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease, more and more assisted living facilities are incorporating memory care services into their repertoires. Instead of having to select a memory care facility for a loved one, then, many people are opting for assisted living facilities that include memory care services. This is a convenient option for those who want to take advantage of what assisted living facilities have to offer while addressing the memory-related needs of their loved ones.
- Flexible Financing Options – Medicare is being relied on more heavily than ever to finance assisted living stays. The passage of healthcare reform in the United States most likely means even more financing options for the elderly in the not-too-distant future. 2011 should be an interesting year in terms of financing options within the industry. More than likely, this trend will be beneficial to the assisted living industry and should help to spur its growth even more.
- Fewer Facilities – In anticipation of the major boom that’s being brought on by aging Baby Boomers, a huge number of assisted living facilities were built over the last ten years. Due to the poor economy, though, the number is going to be whittled down a bit in 2011. The survivors will be the facilities that offer the best prices, the best services and the most flexible financing options. In many ways, this small reduction should work to strengthen the assisted living facility over the long run.
- Shorter Hospital Stays – Every year, the lengths of hospital stays gets shorter and shorter. 2011 will be no different. Concerns over the rising cost of health care will prompt patients to get in and out of hospitals more quickly than ever. As a result, many elderly people may choose to move into assisted living facilities in lieu of staying in the hospital any longer than is necessary.
- Healthcare Reform – The biggest wildcard for 2011 has to be healthcare reform. The exact changes aren’t fully known yet; the precise impact on the industry remains largely in the dark. As reform starts kicking in, there should be some interesting changes within the industry. Also, many facilities will start making changes in anticipation of healthcare reform-related issues.
- More Complex Pricing Schemes – One trend that assisted living facilities should try to steer clear of in 2011 is overly complex pricing schemes. Competition is sure to be fierce between local assisted living facilities. Facilities that have confusing pricing schemes are going to lose out against those whose pricing schemes are straightforward and simple to understand. Facilities with transparent fees and charges will enjoy the greatest success in 2011.
- More People Staying at Home – In an effort to save as much money as possible, more seniors are expected to stay at home with relatives in 2011. With the increasing number of foreclosures that have been happening, though, this trend may be a bit muted. The assisted living industry shouldn’t be negatively affected by the trend towards staying at home.
Assisted Living in 2011: On an Even Keel
When you consider the pluses and minuses that will be occurring within the assisted living industry in 2011, it’s clear to see that things should basically balance out over the year. As always, the assisted living industry should continue to be a great option for those who would like to enjoy steady employment throughout their careers. Those who are already working in the industry shouldn’t worry about losing their jobs, as the aging Baby Boomer generation keeps beds full around the country. As a whole, the industry should continue to thrive throughout 2011 and beyond.
subject: Assisted Living References