Metrics that Matter #3: Census and Occupancy

Welcome to Metrics that Matter - our deep dive into the KPIs that power senior living. All of these KPIs are automatically calculated by Clarent and included in our KPI Library.

Happy new year! For our first post of 2023, we're going to discuss census, occupancy, and the difference between the 2 KPIs.

It seems like this should be simple... but there is more complexity to unpack!

KPI: Census & Occupancy

What is Census?

Census refers to how many residents are in the community. The concept of “census” may have come from SNF / hospitals (which billed by bed vs. by unit). Census may include only Primary Residents (residents who are receiving care) or it may include Primary and Secondary Residents (Residents who are not receiving care but live in the same unit; often a spouse or partner).

What is Occupancy?

Occupancy refers to how many units are rented in the community.

When should you use Census vs. Occupancy?

While Census and Occupancy both tell you how “full” a community is, they mean different things and are relevant for different roles. A nurse is likely to be more interested in Census as it says how many people need care, whereas an owner or a CFO will care more about Occupancy as it drives revenue.

Census and Occupancy also lend themselves to different cost-analysis. Census can be used to calculate “per resident days” which is used for understanding costs across all residents. For example, looking at food costs per resident day is based on Census (”how much are you spending on food for each resident per day?”). Other expenses analysis like maintenance are better done based on occupancy: it makes more sense to look at maintenance costs per occupied unit vs. per resident day.

Why is this KPI hard to measure?

While Census and Occupancy are similar, they mean different things. For example, if a resident puts a deposit down on a unit and takes “financial possession” of the unit but does not move in yet, that might be a +1 on occupancy (since the unit is now reserved and cannot be rented) but +0 on census. It’s also helpful to take average Census and average Occupancy over a time period (often a month) since these KPIs fluctuate over the month due to move-ins and move-outs.

How we do it at Clarent

Our software offers many different ways to calculate Census & Occupancy so you can get the exact measurement(s) you need. You can also do break-outs by care level, payor (private pay vs. Medicaid), and compare actual Census & Occupancy vs. budget. We pull this data directly from the rent roll and also use the CRM to pull deposits (if applicable).

While Census and Occupancy both tell you how “full” a community is, they mean different things and are relevant for different roles