Future of senior living communities

Mohit Nirula, CEO, Columbia Pacific Communities at an event>
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As the COVID-19 pandemic took the world by storm in March 2020, the senior living industry, too, felt a massive hit, similar to other sectors of the economy. However, as the pandemic has exposed the already existing vulnerabilities faced by our seniors, the segment is likely to witness heightened demand in 2021. 

While the outburst of COVID-19 has had its repercussions on practically all areas of human existence, the pandemic specifically highlighted the need to provide a permanent solution to the day-to-day issues faced by our seniors. As India looks forwards to unlock the senior care market, measures to promote senior living and wellbeing have impacted the demand and growth of the segment.

Largely perceived to be a game-changer for almost all the sectors of the Indian economy, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the contrast in the experience of the seniors living in their own homes or in apartments within mixed-family communities, against that of the seniors residing in communities designed with their demographic in mind. During the entire 2020, the residents of the senior living communities pursued their passion while participating in wellness and wellbeing programs that continually enabled them to live in a socially engaged yet physically distanced environment.

As a consequence, the demand for residential spaces in senior living communities has grown up exponentially in the last one year. This is even more true for communities that have ready-to-move-in units. As per our observation, several potential residents are keen to rent homes or buy homes in these communities on re-sale from the existing owners. Not only ready-to-move-in units, but the demand for projects under development has also gone up by manifold.

As concerns about health and wellbeing have taken centre stage amid the Coronavirus spread, there is a paradigm shift in the mindset of the senior citizens. Seniors who were unwilling to stay in these communities earlier are now ready to relocate to these homes. Children staying abroad or in other cities are actively searching for these communities for their parents who stay alone in their home towns. This tectonic shift will change the entire outlook and the future of this sector

The increase in the demand for senior living and the yawning gap between the supply and demand of senior living communities have further propelled the real estate developers to examine this category. Therefore, the supply of senior living homes, especially in the outskirts of metros is likely to witness a surge in the coming year. At of now, Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities dominate the senior living segment with 60 percent share of ongoing and completed projects from reputed developers.

As a trend that is fast picking up the pace, real estate developers are actively looking to partner with service providers that have the necessary expertise, track record and credibility in the fields of hospitality and healthcare. Senior living communities created by the developers of repute and serviced by organisations having proven excellence are expected to gain immense prominence. As the buyers are attesting their affinity for reliable brands in the segment, players are walking the extra mile to provide the customers with a hassle-free buying experience. Since the majority of demand is expected to come from the MIG, NRI, and HNI groups, projects would now be judged based on the quality of services.