October's much-anticipated slate of seniors housing industry meetings are can't-miss events that will focus on the entire continuum of seniors care.

Fall is truly the time of year for the seniors housing industry. Consider the upcoming conference lineup that awaits eager investors, owners and managers of seniors properties -- ASHA on Oct. 8; NIC on Oct. 8-10; AHCA on Oct. 22-23; ALFA on Oct. 26-28. It's an impressive lineup and one that will highlight many of the more interesting trends that are occurring in this industry.

ASHA, OCT. 8 This is the American Seniors Housing Association's annual meeting in Washington, D.C., but this year there is a slight twist. In addition to the regular general meeting of the membership, ASHA's Executive Director David Schless has organized a special roundtable discussion of industry experts, co-hosted by National Real Estate Investor magazine, to take place in the Dirksen Senate Office Building from 4-6 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 8. Included on the panel are Michael Bushee, COO of Meditrust; Christopher Coates, president and COO of American Retirement Corp.; Gary Kachadurian, principal of RREEF Funds; William Kaplan, chairman of Senior Lifestyle Corp.; Noah Levy, vice president of Prudential Capital Group; Julia Smith, senior vice president of NationsBank; Timothy Smick, COO of Sunrise Assisted Living; and Louis Swart, COO of The Hillsdale Group.

NIC, OCT. 8-10 The National Investment Conference for the Senior Living and Long Term Care Industries (NIC) is the largest investment conference for the seniors housing industry, and it is held in its usual venue at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Va.

Now in its seventh year, the 1997 edition promises to highlight many experts in the financial, senior care and public policy sectors. Nomura Capital's Ethan Penner and Apollo Advisors' Peter Copses will kick off what promises to be a dynamic three-day affair.

In addition, two major national studies conducted by the ProMatura Group for NIC will be presented -- National Study of Assisted Living Residents: Who is the Customer?, and National Survey of Adults Age 60+: Opinions, Attitudes, Percep-tions and Behaviors Related to Housing Options.

For information, contact Clare Vanderbeek at NIC, (410) 267-0504.

On the heals of these two conferences will be the American Health Care Association's 48th annual convention and exposition in San Antonio Oct. 26-29, and the Assisted Living Federation of America's fall '97 national conference at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Oct. 26-28.

THREE ASHA STUDIES A key component at many of the conferences will be research, which is the backbone supporting the health and vitality of this industry. ASHA, for example, has just released three new major studies that will undoubtedly be distributed at its annual meeting.

The first, entitled Seniors Housing State Regulatory Review, is a 40-page book summarizing the laws and regulations in all 50 states pertaining to assisted living residences and continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs). It was prepared by attorneys at Hanson, Bridgett, Marcus, Vlahos & Rudy, LLP. The cost is $50 by calling Julie Whitehead at ASHA (202) 659-3381.

The second study is ASHA's 1997 Construction Survey, which pinpoints many of the major trends surrounding new construction activity in the seniors housing arena. The survey identified 435 seniors housing residences under construction as of June 1997, with an average of 105 units per property, overall unit capacity of 45,583 units, and an expected total resident capacity of 55,336. On a per unit basis, this represents an increase of 3% in the total unit capacity of the professionally owned and managed seniors housing stock (which ASHA estimates at around 15,000 residences).

Texas is experiencing the greatest growth, with 52 seniors housing communities under construction. Other hubs of activity are California and Florida with 31 per state, Arizona with 25, North Carolina and Pennsylvania with 23 each, Michigan and Tennessee with 15 each, New York with 14, and New Jersey and Oregon with 13 each.

The survey also ranks construction by the number of units being built, and once again Texas is the leader with 6,015 units under construction, followed by Florida's 3,985, New Jersey's 3,489, Arizona's 3,095, California's 3,001, Virginia's 2,340, Pennsylvania's 1,927, Tennessee's 1,597, North C arolina's 1,538 and New York's 1,391. These 10 states represent 62% of all seniors housing units now being built.

So what property types are coming online? Not surprisingly, assisted living residences (both freestanding and assisted living with skilled nursing or specialty care units) account for 67% of the properties under construction. Congre-gate residences make up 18%, CCRCs come in at 8% and seniors apartments account for 7%.

According to ASHA's Schless, the survey was distributed to senior officers of nationally recognized firms, so the results don't clearly illustrate all of the new market-rate seniors housing being built.

The Construction Survey is available for $50 through ASHA.

The third major study is entitled Managed Care Flexes Its Muscle: Capitation Infiltrates Long-Term Care. It examines how managed care principles are revolutionizing the nursing home, seniors housing and home healthcare fields as major reimbursement sources increasingly embrace capitated payment strategies.

According to the study, which was co-sponsored by J.G. Wentworth, a specialty finance company based in Philadelphia, long-term care organizations are pursuing two distinct strategies to cover the broadest geographic area possible, provide access to the largest number of beneficiaries possible and incorporate as many components of the continuum of care as possible.

The first approach is to form consortiums or alliances of independent long-term care providers representing various facets of the entire continuum of care. These networks receive capitated reimbursement from managed care plans in ex-change for the participants shouldering all responsibility, for providing post-acute care and rehabilitation services.

The second approach calls for individual organizations to expand their market reach and hone their ability to compete for at-risk contracts by emphasizing vertical integration.

According to the study, individual components of the long-term care continuum (nursing homes, home care, rehabilitation providers, seniors housing, etc.) will find that over time it will be more difficult to compete independently for referrals with the integrated networks engaged in managed care contracts. Providers that fail to align with healthcare systems will lose considerable leverage and risk being ostracized from the reimbursement mainstream.

Copies of the study are available for $15 from ASHA.