Amenities Are Returning to Senior Housing Properties

Operators are slowly offering residents services like hair salons, gyms and pools once again.

The COVID-19 crisis hit senior housing hard and many facilities, including skilled nursing and memory care centers, are still banning activities. But a growing number of other senior housing properties are slowly bringing back the amenities that residents expect, including dining options, hair salons, swimming pools and fitness centers.

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“The goal has been to bring back all of the services; it’s just going to be in a limited way,” said Colleen Ryan Mallon, chief marketing officer at The Kendal Corp., a not-for-profit organization that has 13 affiliate continuing care retirement communities in eight states.

Some hair salons at senior housing facilities are beginning to have limited openings. Image by Positive_Images via Pixabay.com
Some hair salons at senior housing facilities are beginning to have limited openings. Image by Positive_Images via Pixabay.com

Ryan Mallon said communities are still doing food deliveries and takeout because they can’t offer seating to all residents at one time and many still feel uncomfortable in a dining room. Dining al fresco has also been an alternative.

Fitness centers and swimming pools have started reopening with reserved time slots. During warm weather, fitness classes like yoga moved outdoors where people had room to socially distance. Others used Zoom or YouTube videos.

Hair salons in independent living and assisted living communities have been reopening at Kendal communities by appointment and with new protocols, such as plexiglass between stations and extra time for cleaning. 

John Polatz, CEO & founder of PS Lifestyles in Cleveland, spent the last several months preparing a 17-page, reopening plan for the company, which runs hair salons in senior living facilities. Polatz said PS had salons in about 1,031 locations across 36 states pre-pandemic and had opened about 500 by August. He noted it can’t open a salon in a facility if it’s located in the same building as a skilled nursing or memory care center and, in some states even, assisted living residences have medical components that preclude opening the salons.

Despite the expense and additional work spent on protocols, Polatz said, it’s been worth it for stylists to reconnect with residents.

“The salon is an important amenity for at least half, if not, more residents,” he said. The reunion effect has been overwhelming.


Sector Insights rotates among market rate/luxury housing, workforce housing, low-income housing, student housing, senior housing and mixed-use.

Read the October 2020 issue of MHN.