A new study by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago (NORC) analyzed the impact of COVID-19 on mortality in senior housing across the long-term care spectrum including independent living, assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing facilities and found that mortality rates increased as the complexity of care that residents required increased.
After examining state and federal public health data in five states (Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, and Pennsylvania), NORC estimates that 51 percent of senior housing facilities had no COVID-19 deaths in 2020. Within those facilities that did have deaths, however, death rates corresponded to “increasing levels of resident social support, health, and caregiving needs.” This led to a concentration of deaths in in skilled nursing facilities, with about 60 percent having COVID-related deaths, compared to 33 percent of independent living facilities experiencing COVID mortalities.
Meanwhile, NORC found the resident deaths in independent living facilities was comparable to the death rate of older adults living in non-congregate settings in the same geographic region. The study concludes that “health status and frailty levels of residents living in senior housing” have been a primary driver of the differences in the mortality rates during the COVID-19 pandemic.
June 10, 2021 – C. St. John
 NORC at the University of Chicago. The Impact of COVID-19 on Seniors Housing. (June 3, 2021). Available at: https://www.norc.org/Research/Projects/Pages/the-impact-of-covid-19-on-seniors-housing.aspx