Spokane Journal of Business

Moran Vista Senior Living adjusts to market

Assisted-living demand steady since recession

  • Print Article
-—Mike McLean
Sandy Davidson, administrator at Moran Vista, says the 131-unit retirement community is the flagship facility for Bend, Ore.-based Ageia Health Services.

Since the Great Recession, Moran Vista Senior Living has balanced a slow return in demand for independent living apartments by licensing more assisted-living units, for which demand has remained steady, says Sandy Davidson, Moran Vista’s administrator.

The retirement community, at 3319 E. 57th on the South Hill, has 42 independent-living units, 75 assisted-living units, and 14 memory-care units.

Most of the independent units are on the 30-unit third floor of a 75,000-square-foot expansion, now called Building A, that Moran Vista opened in 2007. The rest are spread throughout that building.

Moran Vista has become the flagship community for Bend, Ore.-based Ageia Health Services LLC, Davidson says. 

It’s the newest and by far the largest of Ageia’s seven senior-living communities in Washington and Oregon, and it’s the only one that provides a combination of independent living, assisted living, memory care, and respite care.

Ageia bought Moran Vista in 2002 from Spokane couple Dr. Robert and Hellen Shanewise, who developed its original assisted-living and memory-care building in 1997.

Davidson says Ageia originally had planned a total of 62 independent-living units on the second and third floors of Building A and 20 assisted-living units on the first floor, but the recession hit as the expansion was being developed, causing a change in the market.

Independent-living units in the new building rented out slowly, while assisted-living units remained in demand, so the owner decided to license the second floor for assisted living, he says.

So far, the trend in demand for assisted-living units has remained steady, Davidson says.

“The market has more than kept up with a higher demand for assisted than independent,” he says.

The two-bedroom configuration of independent-living units, however, is in short supply at Moran Vista.

“Seven of the independent units have two bedrooms, which have seen a big increase in demand,” he says. “At first, we couldn’t fill them. Now, we have a waiting list.”

Some couples prefer two bedrooms so they can have separate sleeping arrangements, usually because of snoring issues, he says, while some single residents want to use an extra bedroom for an office.

The 2007 expansion tripled the size of the facility, which has 49 units in its original building, consisting of 35 assisted-living units and 14 memory-care units.

The buildings are connected by a restaurant-style dining area, which is shared by assisted-living and independent-living residents.

The memory-care wing has its own dining accommodations. It’s part of the original building, but is partitioned from it by a secure access.

Moran Vista has 126 residents, including a few couples. Excluding model apartments and guest and respite-care rooms, the facility has only a handful of vacancies, Davidson says.

Moran Vista has a staff of about 90 employees, including two nurses, a resident-care coordinator, medical technicians, and caregivers, he says.

The typical age range of residents is in the mid- to late 80s, Davidson says.

“Our average age is younger for independent living, but we have one 95-year-old independent resident who still drives,” Davidson says.

Less than a dozen independent residents have their own cars at Moran Vista. The senior-living community provides residents transportation for medical appointments on Tuesdays, and for shopping and errands on Thursdays and Fridays.

Most new residents come to Moran Vista through word-of-mouth referrals from friends, relatives, and people who are familiar with the senior-living center.

Most residents there also are longtime Spokane-area residents.

“It’s a rarity for someone from out of town to move here,” Davidson says. “When that happens, it’s usually parents following their kids to Spokane.”

Residents usually bring in their own furniture and accessories. “We want people to come in and say, ‘I’m home,” he says.

The average length of stay for assisted-living residents is three to four years, Davidson says. Independent units haven’t been open long enough to establish an average length of stay, he says, adding, “Some of our independent-living residents have been with us since we opened to them.”

Having a continuum of living options that includes independent living, assisted living, and memory care has extended the length of stay for some residents, he says.

Moran Vista doesn’t have accommodations, though, for people who need a high level of nursing care, such as IV therapy, Davidson says.

“If they need a nursing home, we don’t have the facilities for that,” he says.

Independent-living rates range from $1,800 a month for a 400-square-foot studio apartment to $3,200 a month for a two-bedroom, 900-square-foot apartment. Couples are assessed an additional $450 a month for the second occupant.

Assisted-living apartments range in living space from 270-square-foot studios to 900-square-foot, two-bedroom units. Monthly rates range from $3,100 to $5,300 plus an additional assistance assessment of $300 to $1,100 a month depending on the level of care required.

Couples in assisted-living units are assessed an additional $750 per month for the second occupant, plus care fees.

Nurses and caregivers are expected to make sure residents receive assistance with medication management, dressing, mobility, and grooming, depending on the level of care they need.

Independent-living and assisted-living apartments include a stove, refrigerator and microwave, and one- and two-bedroom units include a washer and dryer.

Rent also includes weekly housekeeping, cable TV, and utilities, excluding phone service and individual high-speed Internet services.

The monthly rent for independent-living and assisted-living residents at Moran Vista includes three chef-prepared meals daily, and residents can dine any time between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Most residents, though, dine at regular meal times so they can socialize with other residents, Davidson says.

The monthly rates for private rooms for memory-care residents range from $4,400 to $5,300, depending on level of care.

The memory-care rates also include meals, social activities, and events designed to engage residents with cognitive impairments.

The memory-care wing has a secure courtyard, Davidson says.

Through a state-run program, Moran Vista offers a specialized rate for a limited number of residents. 

“It’s a little more doable than the regular Medicaid rate,” he says. “But it’s still considerably less than the private rate.”

Moran Vista also accepts Medicaid for residents who have lived there for more than two years, Davidson says.

Moran Vista offers respite care for people in need of temporary assisted-living or memory-care services.

“It’s usually for families taking a vacation and in need of someone to take care of their mom or dad,” he says. “Some months we get two or three requests.”

Respite care services are $150 a day for assisted-living residents and respite rates start at $175 a day for memory-care residents. 

Moran Vista schedules a full calendar of social activities, including a variety of exercise programs, video bowling and golf, bingo, crafts, movies, and church services.

The facility includes a versatile activities room that can be set up for meetings, games, and other group activities. Near the activities room, Moran Vista has an Internet café available to residents and staff.

Davidson says Moran Vista has a well-stocked, one-room library that’s managed by a retired librarian.

“She keeps new books coming in and makes sure they’re used,” he says.

Davidson, who has worked in the retirement-community industry for 21 years, has been the administrator at Moran Vista for two years.

He was raised in Post Falls, and after a stint in the hospitality industry, began working for Regency Pacific in the Spokane area, before running a Regency Pacific facility in Hawaii, where he was contacted by Ageia for the Moran Vista management position.

“I love being back in Spokane,” he says. “Moran Vista is big for Spokane. It has a variety of care levels that enables us to do the whole gamut.”

In some ways, managing a retirement home is easier than managing a restaurant or hotel, he says.

“In the hospitality industry, you don’t know how many people will show up,” he says. “Here, we can plan for how many people we’re going to serve and the staff we’ll need, because we know who’s going to be here.”

Mike McLean
  • Mike McLean

  • Email Mike McLean
  • Follow RSS feed for Mike McLean

Deputy Editor Mike McLean has worked his entire journalism career in the Inland Northwest. Mike, who also lives to reel in fish and crank up music, has worked for the Journal since 2006.

Read More

Sign up for our E-mail updates

including the
Morning Edition

Join our list