We’re getting older. By 2030, more than a fifth of the UK (21.8%) and US (20.6%) populations will be aged over 65, while the EU surpassed that figure last year. With ageing trends set to continue their upwards trajectory - 7% of the UK population is expected to be 85+ in 2066, for example - it’s no surprise that the Senior Living market is on the rise. With investors, developers and operators keen to plug the supply gap to meet this future demand, PropTech can differentiate their offering and future-proof their investment. Here’s how.
Adapting to changing resident needs
“Everyone ages differently,” says Jamie Bunce, CEO of Inspired Villages, whose residents vary from their late sixties to early hundreds, “people come to us very active, very well, and as they live with us they need a little bit more care at times”. This fundamental fact underpins Senior Living. Unlike other forms of innovative living, Senior Living residents are not looking for a great real estate investment or temporary accomodation for a couple of months, but for a home they can age in. A home that caters for both their current wants and their future requirements.
Operators must therefore deliver scalable care according to residents’ changing needs - from the provision of round-the-clock supervision to hands-on medical treatment. But, ‘care’ also relates to comfort and convenience; this is where Proptech steps in. For example, managers can remotely set cleaning rotas for all residents with specific care needs and include individual notes for housekeeping staff on resident preferences - this is a home after all, not a hotel. What’s more, visiting care staff can log onto an app, know exactly which rooms to visit and easily access information on health developments since their last visit. Finally, when a unit is a home for life, the need for responsive maintenance is amplified tenfold (you can’t just move a resident to another room for a few nights) and therefore the task scheduling, real-time reporting and manager-maintenance team-resident comms platform is worth its weight in gold.
Tech-fuelled services - the great differentiator
In a recent Urban Living webinar on Senior Living, Nick White, Associate Director of Fortwell Capital, said that “what makes a successful [Senior Living] operator stand out is the focus on hospitality”, adding that residents should have the experience of going on holiday for the rest of their lives. Current and proposed Senior Living developments are now full of cafés, restaurants, wellness spas and mini-golf courses, but it’s not amazing amenities that create amazing hospitality - it’s how they’re run.
With a PropTech platform, Senior Living residents and operators can organise live and interactive bridge tournaments. Residents can form film societies and reserve the cinema room for screenings of their favourite classic. To move away from elderly hobby clichés, residents can also sign up to skydiving trips via an app and reserve spots in the gym’s spinning classes. With tech, Senior Living residents are given the ultimate hospitality luxury: control.
No more admin woes
Paying bills and signing contracts can be stressful at the best of times, but for those in Senior Living, it can cause deep levels of anxiety, especially for those who’ve never done it before (i.e. their spouse always used to do it) and those who can longer do it. Operators can remove this potential distress through using an app that allows trusted family members to take over responsibility for sharing documents and making rental payments.
In addition, removing this admin burden frees up operators’ time to focus on delivering great resident experience, while the automated data enables easy reporting to investors and owners.
Silver Tsunami is coming
In her recent article for Serviced Apartment News, BrandFull Managing Director Dina Soliman-Pederson noted that there are only around 50,000 Senior Living units in the UK (0.6% penetration), while the US and Australia have around 5% penetration. Given the soaring demand on its way, there is ample space in the market and operators with tech-enabled services will be better placed to scale in the future, attract an increasing number of tech-savvy retirees and, ultimately, grow their business without the usual limitations.