Close up image of a caretaker helping older woman walk

If current trends continue, occupancy rates in skilled nursing facilities could be headed to new lows this year, said analysts from the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care.

Occupancy ticked up slightly to 82.6% at the end of the first quarter due to expected seasonal factors, including a relatively intense flu season, according to NIC’s latest data, which was released in early June. But the rate dropped slightly in March.

If year-over-year decreases continue, “a new low will be expected later in 2017,” NIC report authors wrote.

Average occupancy over the last year was 82.9%, compared to 84.3% for the prior 12 months and 85.7% for the year before that.

Meanwhile, managed Medicare patient day mix in February reached its highest point in NIC’s data series. 

It’s a statistic that backs up earlier analysis “suggesting a trend away from what had been a rapid decline in the managed Medicare [revenue per patient day],” said NIC Chief Economist Beth Burnham Mace.