This past flu season has been blamed for many of the current seniors housing occupancy problems, but it has been bad for three years.
When looking at the decline in seniors housing occupancy over the first two quarters of this year, much was made of the unusually severe flu season. While we are sure some companies and individual communities were hit particularly hard by this past winter’s flu, Barclays came out with an industry report which included a very interesting graph. It depicted the percentage of visits for influenza-like illnesses reported by the U.S. Outpatient influenza-like illness Surveillance Network. Yeah, I had never heard of that one either. Anyway, it did show that there was a large spike in the 2014-2015 season, but that there was an almost identical spike and duration in the 2012-2013 flu season, and a slightly less pronounced spike in the 2013-2014 season. So three bad flu seasons in a row after two very modest years. One would think that all three years would have seen abnormal occupancy declines, but the big one was this year. We hear it was the higher incidence of death from the flu that caused the occupancy problems, which was probably true for some providers. Still, why not the two previous years? What else is going on? Stay tuned.