Montana Senior Housing Industry Faces Challenges, Calls for Community Support

At the end of September, senior housing experts in Montana convened for the 2022 Annual Montana Healthcare Association (MHCA) Conference and Exposition, one of the region's most highly-anticipated events for skilled nursing and assisted living facilities. During this year's conference, many of the conversations centered around the challenges faced by operators in the state. With many older adults in California choosing to leave the state for Big Sky country, operators are struggling to adapt, thanks in large part to staffing issues, funding roadblocks, and a lack of desirable inventory. 
Sherman & Roylance's Pacific Northwest and Montana Senior Housing Specialist, Shaylee Green, attended the conference and tells us that Montana currently has about a quarter of the SNF facilities as surrounding states. Furthermore, local municipalities are not providing funding to help SNFs stay afloat, making the notion of shutdowns eminent. In 2022 alone, seven facilities have shuttered their doors, and one of the largest operators in the state, St. John's United in Billings, announced a five-year plan to transition to an assisted living facility. 

Locals Make an Impact

But in many parts of the state, facilities have been saved by local county taxes because residents still see value in these communities. Additionally, private pay ranchers have stepped in to offer financial support to local SNFs in smaller communities, but not all locales have facilities, which is a problem as more and more older Americans have moved to Montana. Between 2010 and 2021, the 65+ age group was the fastest-growing in the state, with the population increasing by 46.8%. 

Staffing Issues Persist 

While lack of funding and inventory is certainly problematic, Green indicates the biggest issue is staffing. Attendees of the MHCA conference ranged from owner-operators to senior housing specialists and nurses and CNAs as well. Many of the long-term nursing staff in Montana are approaching retirement age, which means the SNFs will lose more staff. 
"It was a great conference and lovely to see people in person and hear about some of the challenges facing the industry right now," said Green of this year's conference. She continues, "I was able to interface with so many wonderful people and build important connections." If you missed meeting Shaylee in person, don't hesitate to reach out and schedule a consultation.

Montana SNF Operators Hopeful, Call for Action

The senior housing industry as a whole has transformed since the pandemic, in some areas faster than others. As operators continue to adapt and look for ways to meet the demands and needs of their residents, it's no surprise some are transitioning to different models. To bounce back and make room for the influx of residents moving to the state, the following needs to happen:
  • Opportunity for small homes to be turned into care facilities. 
  • The state's large operators need to step in and build complexes.
  • Operators should be open to different models, such as co-housing facilities and active adult communities. 
The Sherman & Roylance team is keeping a close eye on the market and is here to answer any questions you may have. If you are looking to learn more about Montana's senior housing market, sell a facility, or consider a redevelopment route, contact Shaylee Green or Todd Sherman today.