On December 31, 2015, The Orange County Register featured Seniorly CEO Arthur Bretschneider as a contributing writer, giving him a chance to discuss the transformation undergoing the senior housing industry. With over half of U.S. adults over the age of 65 being savvy online, senior housing experts such as Seniorly have an amazing opportunity to help families who are carrying out their search process online. With hundreds of community profiles on the Seniorly website, families can make the most informed decisions for their loved ones by viewing virtual tours, community inspection reports, reviews and more!
by Arthur Bretschneider
Have you ever stopped to think about how often online ratings and reviews affect your everyday decisions? We choose restaurants based on their Yelp score, pick movies with a high percentage on Rotten Tomatoes and buy gifts that have favorable Amazon reviews.
But when it comes to selecting senior-housing options, you might be surprised to find how little information is available online. And the holiday season, more than any other time of year is when people make these critical life decisions for themselves or loved ones.
This is how it works for most families.
Something happens to somebody you love. They are unable to care for themselves or they decide they want to be around more people. You go online, but see very limited options, and, in order to receive more detailed descriptions you have give away lots of personal information. Once you do sign up, you are connected with a referral agency where a salesperson will try to get you to choose senior communities that will pay them the highest referral fee.
To make matters even more difficult, more than 70 percent of senior communities have limited or no online presence at all.
I’ve seen firsthand how this can take a toll on families searching for housing options, both financially and emotionally.
I’m a third-generation senior housing operator. My father would always tell me the two things he thought were most important for finding a good location for a retirement home. First, it had to be walking distance to a convenience or grocery store. His reasoning was that everyone likes to buy a bag of chips. And second, a senior community needs to be visible to traffic. People typically move to a community within five miles of their home, so they need to know that your property is in their neighborhood.
In an industry dominated by word-of-mouth referrals, it’s no wonder that the status quo for finding senior communities is so limited. But baby boomers, my parents’ generation, are much more tech savvy these days.
They shop more for the best fit, and, in the case of senior housing, many times it’s more than cost, care and location. It’s about languages, cultures, and interests. It’s about finding communities where residents are engaged inside and outside of the community. At the same time we live in a world where hospital providers are highly incentivized to get patients out of hospitals. In these highly tense situations having access to real-time pricing and availability is critical.
One of the main reasons for this lack of transparency is that there has been no standard review platform for some of the most common and sought after senior-housing options. These include assisted living facilities, memory care units, independent living communities and “board and care” homes. Reviews on these facilities have been scattered throughout the Web, without any single site offering a comprehensive catalog of senior-housing options.
My company, Seniorly is trying to break this mold by giving families as much information as possible on any community in one, easy-to-navigate website. Our site allows you to filter options by care needs (assisted living, memory care, hospice services, etc.), budget, resident capacity, primary language, dining options and more. This is valuable data that would take hours to compile if you were working with referral agencies. We also just launched a new tool that consolidates ratings and reviews of senior communities from all over the Web.
Hotel reviews, restaurant recommendations, even scores for your Uber and Lyft drivers are just a few ways our decisions are influenced by what we read online. The senior-housing industry has been slow to adapt and get online, despite the fact that more than 60 percent of baby boomers are searching online for services. Families and their aging relatives deserve to have as much information as possible available to them when making these important decisions.
For more information on executing your search for senior housing online, visit Seniorly and sign up for free. We’ll give you access to pricing and availability, as well as comprehensive reviews and community inspection reports.