John O’Connor

When something truly epic occurs, it can get a “great” designation.

The religious revival that impacted American colonies during the 1730s and 1740s? That would be The Great Awakening.

When the nation’s economy collapsed at the end of the Roaring ‘20s? That’s the Great Depression, of course.

Tons of people suddenly quitting their jobs after being sequestered offsite for the better part of two years? Welcome to the Great Resignation.

Turns out a current movement in long-term care might deserve a similar moniker: The Great Divide.

Yes, it is already used to separate the watersheds of the Pacific Ocean from those of the Atlantic. But the term also aptly describes a bifurcation now taking place in the market; one that separates those who are jettisoning their skilled care holdings from those who are bulking up.

The most recent example of the first group was provided Thursday. That’s when Sabra CEO Rick Matros announced his juggernaut REIT will sell off a big piece of its skilled care portfolio.

That divestiture stands in stark contrast to statements made one day prior by Jason Stroiman, president of Evans Senior Investments. Stroiman insisted buyers are plenty bullish when it comes to skilled care.

So who’s making the right call here? In their own way, both.

Sabra is playing the short game. That’s the one where senior living and behavioral health look like more promising plays, especially as regulators, the White House and many consumer groups keep giving nursing homes the stink eye.

As for the investors more than willing to snap up what’s available, they are playing the long game. That’s the one in which a rapidly aging nation will soon push skilled care demand to unprecedented levels. Even lousy facilities shape up as a reasonably safe investment opportunity, provided they can remain solvent for the next few years.

How long will skilled care’s Great Divide continue? Not very. Market dynamics are changing fast. In the meantime, this might be an unusually good time to get into the skilled care business. Or to get out.

John O’Connor is editorial director for McKnight’s.

The opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News columns are not necessarily those of McKnight’s.