5 Steps to Keep Your Residents in Assisted Living Facilities Longer

Assisted living communities are a popular choice for American seniors. They offer the perfect combination of independent living for those who are fit and healthy and medical and nursing support when it is needed.

As more elderly are considering assisted living, competition is growing among facilities. Attracting new residents is costly, so retaining existing assisted living residents needs to be a top priority for any facility. Your team, your community, and the care you provide all have critical roles. Here is how to set your organization apart from the competition. 

Why Retaining Residents Matters

Across the United States, more than 800,000 have chosen assisted living communities as their homes. The American Health Care Association (AHCA) reports that more than one million licensed beds are available in approximately 28,900 communities. About four out of ten communities are located in the country’s western states, followed by 28% in the south. Over one in five are in the Midwest, with the northeast trailing behind with less than 10%. 

With beds available and an average annual resident turnover, many communities have started to market their facilities to attract new residents. Executives have also focused on successful move-ins. While those efforts are essential and show success, turnover among assisted living residents remains high. In some communities, nearly 50% of residents leave every year. 

Acquiring new residents is a credible way to address the problem, but it is also expensive. The U.S. Small Business Administration and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimate that the cost of acquiring new customers is between five and seven times higher than retaining residents. 

Few assisted living facilities (ALF) can afford these additional costs in a challenging economy. Plus, from a financial perspective, there is a vast opportunity to limit costs without compromising the quality of care. At the same time, improving resident retention benefits the facility’s marketing activities. Potential residents will place greater trust in a facility that inspires loyalty in their residents. 

Addressing the Need for Mental Health Services in Senior Living Communities

Every year, residents of the assisted living facilities experience increasing rates of depression, anxiety, and loneliness. A quality behavioral health programs can help. Watch webinar

5 Steps to Help Retain Residents in your Assisted Living Community

How can your community set itself apart? Here are five strategies your facility can start to implement today. 

Step 1: Creating a New Home

Moving into an assisted living facility marks a massive transition in an older person’s life. Even those choosing independent living options within the community will recognize that this move marks the beginning of the last stage of their lives. This realization can weigh on a resident’s emotional and mental well-being. 

Creating an environment that is as homelike as possible can be a gamechanger for both a successful transition and long-term resident retention. A welcoming ambiance is just as important as clean and comfortable surroundings. Research has shown that residents prefer spaces with plenty of natural light, but they also value layouts that accommodate physical limitations easily. 

Allowing residents to personalize their space is another excellent way of helping them feel at home. Being surrounded by treasured mementos and personal possessions can dramatically improve the transition. 

Step 2: Bonding with Others and Your Team

As people get older and potentially less mobile, their social contacts decrease. Not every assisted living resident has a large family that can visit regularly. 

Fellow residents and your team members start to fill those gaps for your residents. Over time, genuine relationships develop that go beyond primary care. Your team members must understand the facility’s approach and values and buy into that philosophy. As a rule of thumb, happy and satisfied employees will be more likely to better care for residents. 

Hiring (and retaining) staff who take pride in their profession is a great foundation. Assisted living managers also need to ensure staff members are satisfied with their jobs on an ongoing basis. Without that, your team will struggle to engage with residents and truly connect. 

Residents also benefit from opportunities to meet their peers and socialize. Offering learning opportunities and events are one way to support connections. In addition, to stand out from the crowd of competitors, leading residencies provide a choice of common indoor and outdoor areas. 

Step 3: Providing Qualified Professional Staff

Most assisted living facilities to offer a range of medical and health care services. Having a professional team accessible and available can differentiate between new residents turning into long-term tenants or a high turnover.

Some of the most popular services offered by ALF residences include pharmacies, different types of therapy, and nutritional advice. Residents also benefit from access to skilled nursing, social work, or counseling. Two residents will rarely have the exact requirements. 

Having a professionally qualified team allows you to address different requirements flexibly. Access to qualified professionals also builds trust among residents and benefits the credibility of your entire facility. 

There were some residents who weren’t coming out of their rooms and didn’t want to engage with anyone… that has really changed since offering this program — they are more apt to talk now and be around other people — they are really starting to come out of their shell and are really happy with the service.

Renee Najarro, Director of Resident Care. The Ivy of McKinney

Step 4: Offering Opportunities to Stay Active

Physical activity is one of the most important factors for staying healthy later in life. 

Strength training can prevent falls and other common injuries in older people, and other gentle activities like stretching or yoga for seniors improve flexibility and mobility. Exercise also benefits those with chronic conditions such as diabetes. 

Plus, some physical activities offer excellent opportunities for socializing, too. If your community has plenty of green, open spaces, many residents will enjoy catching up during a 30-minute walk. 

When it comes to choosing the appropriate activities for your clients, why not ask them what they would enjoy? Giving seniors a say in the facility’s activities keeps them more engaged and encourages participation. 

Step 5: Maintaining Good Behavioral Health

Behavioral health and mental health are closely related to overall health. Helping residents develop or maintain good behavioral health means making it easy to create habits that benefit them in the long term. 

These habits include exercise and activities, including eating habits and socializing. Assisted living facilities that want to be leaders in their field need to be aware of good behavioral health. As we are nearing the end of the second year of the pandemic, this aspect of ALF residents’ health has never been more critical. 

Many residents suffered from a lack of social contact during the first months of the pandemic, which may have led to a change in behavioral habits.

Assisted living facilities now have an opportunity to set themselves apart from their competition by prioritizing this area. 

Adding behavioral health care to your facility’s offerings is possible at no cost to your organization or your residents through Medicare-approved programs. Behavioral health care includes a thorough assessment of your residents followed by individual options to help increase their quality of life and your quality of care. 


As the baby boomer generation is starting to retire, ALF communities will grow over the next few decades. Managers and owners need to focus on resident retention to build a true community. Some of the critical steps toward resident retention include:

  • Creating a homely atmosphere
  • Facilitating bonding between residents and your team
  • Providing qualified staff
  • Offering a wide range of activities 
  • Supporting behavioral health care

Your team does not have to do all of that by themselves. Consider partnering with an experienced provider with a proven track record. Platforms like Behavioral Health Programs for Assisted Living Facilities powered by TrueCare™ offer the skills and expertise your facility needs. 

About TrueCare™

TrueCare™ is a nationwide Health & Wellness platform for families and businesses providing end-to-end solutions for COVID-19 testing, screening, vaccination, home care, and corporate well-being services.