The 5 Most Common Supply Chain Challenges in Senior Living Hospitality

Navigating inflation and supply chain pressures in senior living has not been easy the last few years, let alone considering how to keep resident satisfaction high. From high levels of substitutions due to shortages and rising food costs, senior living providers face numerous challenges to maintain a smooth and efficient supply chain for their communities.

While occupancy rates have finally started to show signs of improvement in senior living, economic uncertainties have continued to increase. Rising inflation and supply chain disruptions have put significant strain on senior living communities of all sizes to manage costs without sacrificing resident satisfaction. So how do you navigate economic uncertainty and keep occupancy rates up? In this blog post, we will discuss the five most common supply chain challenges in senior living hospitality.

1. High Levels of Substitutions and Out of Stocks

While periodic substitutions or out of stock notices are not uncommon in hospitality, the last few years have seen a dramatic increase. It sent many senior living providers scrambling to find alternatives to meet the needs of their residents. With dedicated supply chain resources, providers have access to complete, end-to-end management of all food and non-food products that come in the back door of their facility as well as weekly reports detailing all subs and out of stocks so plans can be readjusted. The use of managed order guides also help you direct your spend in the right place when things change.

2. Food Costs and Inflation

Managing rising food costs is one of the most frequently heard supply chain challenges in senior living and often one of the trickiest to navigate. Having access to dedicated supply chain resources means you have greater access to contracted pricing to reduce pricing volatility within the community. Another benefit of having dedicated supply chain resources is menu engineering, which allows easier navigation of price increases in a fluctuating market. One example of menu engineering is creating menus that feature chicken instead of pork because there has been a price increase on pork.

Having access to a strong network of contracted suppliers also offers wider selections and competitive pricing when collaborating with a strategic partner for your community.

3. Supplier Relationship Management

Day-to-day relationship management with suppliers is one of the areas that eats the most time for busy senior living communities. How many hours and resources a week does your team have to spend on emails, phone calls, and meetings with your suppliers? The burden on your dining team and Dining Service Director can be significantly reduced through an integrated support team with a strategic partner. It also reduces the burden on your organization’s Finance or Accounting team by consolidating all foodservice spend to a single invoice. Freeing up these resources across your organization allows an increased focused on what matters most – your residents.

4. Food Safety Traceability and Quality

While it may not be the first thing that comes to mind amidst rising inflation, food safety, traceability and quality is arguable the most important challenge of all. If there is a food safety recall from one of your suppliers, navigating this with dedicated supply chain resources allows you to put urgent resources where they are needed the most. When time is of the essence, dedicated supply chain resources with a strategic partner provide a ‘push notification’ style system of food safety withdrawal and recall notifications. This goes hand-in-hand with supplier relationship management. How many calls would your team have to make to trace the recalled item? Being able to identify, address and solve food safety issues faster is paramount.

5. Ability to Innovate

Being innovative in senior living hospitality means staying close to trends in the industry. How much time does your dining services manager have each week to research new trends?  

With the strong focus on increasing senior living occupancy rates, the ability to innovate correlates very closely to increasing rates of resident satisfaction. Is your dining program considered modern or outdated? Working with a strategic partner means that special programs and promotions that are specially built around the very latest innovations are able to be provided directly to your senior living community without your time and resources having to be allocated to researching trends and innovations.


Dedicated supply chain and procurement resources are key to helping your community navigate the volatility of inflation and supply chain obstacles. It can be a complex and challenging task, but the right strategic partner works alongside your community to ensure your community can refocus on doing what you do best – providing vibrant and personalized experiences for modern senior living guests.

Learn more about the benefits a strategic partner can provide your community here.

Contributed by Sara Castle, VP of Business Development, Compass Community Living  

Sara Castle is a Vice President of Business Development at Compass Community Living. She holds a B.A. in History and a Master of Education degree from the University of Florida. Her passion and solutions-oriented approach make it her primary business to understand client needs and exceed their expectations. Sara’s expertise and tenacity allow her to do the right thing for her clients while meeting their financial needs, resulting in solid relationships founded on trust and partnership. She believes that senior living communities are not just places to live but provide the promise of new experiences through exceptional hospitality.

About Compass Community Living

Compass Community Living (CCL) is a division of Compass Group, a global culinary and support services leader. With over 15,000 associates nationwide, CCL offers the expertise of three powerhouse brands – Morrison Living, Coreworks and Unidine. CCL provides collaborative partnerships, emphasizing hospitality and service excellence, for over 850 retirement communities and behavioral health facilities across the country. Together, our family of companies deliver an experience known for innovation and a passion for service with proven management and strong operational infrastructure.

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