How to Read Senior Care Reviews



b5-infographicConsumers in today’s online marketplace are relying heavily on reviews to help them move from “browsing” to “buying,” or from “curious” to “connecting:” whether they’re considering a new tech product on Amazon, a roofing company to make a repair, or a health provider for a new diagnosis.


The 2017 Local Consumer Review Survey from BrightLocal, a UK-based SEO marketing firm, shares these key findings that affirm just how important reviews are in consumer decision-making:


  • ●  97% of consumers looked online for local businesses in 2017, with 12% looking for a local business online every day
  • ●  85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
  • ●  Positive reviews make 73% of consumers trust a local business more


the-right-reviewDid you know you can review senior care & housing options? These write-ups and testimonials can be found on various sites, which often allow you to compare options too. Below is a list of review sites that Google is currently indexing:

Senior Care Online Reviews

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  • ●  Nursing Home Compare (hosted by


Third Party Online Reviews

  • ●  Facebook
  • ●  Google+
  • ●  Yelp
  • ●  Glassdoor (more associate specific)
  • ● (more associate specific)

Expert Advice: 5 Tips for Reading Reviews from Benchmark’s Digital Marketing Team

You can’t always believe what you read, and reviews are not always reliable. That’s why we consulted with our in-house experts, Craig Simons, Director of Digital Marketing, and Jason McCloud, Digital Marketing Consultant, who has extensive experience in consulting with senior care providers and third party referral sources.


Here, both Craig and Jason will share their insights on why reviews matter, and how best to read and interpret them.


Tip #1: Be sure to read all reviews cautiously and holistically.


Craig Simons, Director of Digital Marketing at Benchmark

Happy people are less likely to leave reviews than unhappy people, so there tends to be a skew towards negative reviews. But that also means a lack of negative reviews is actually a positive sign!


craig-simons-quoteOn Amazon and other online retailers, purchasers are encouraged to leave authentic reviews. Amazon even compensates some reviewers through their Early Reviewer Program. Typically, shoppers can quickly view other reviews by a certain user to get a sense for their authenticity and review history.


But that transparency doesn’t always translate to senior living. Wherever possible, try to look at the profile of the person who’s leaving the review to get a sense of her track record, or whether he’s a reliable source. Has he left honest reviews? Has she left both positive and negative reviews? If so, that person is probably giving a genuine, unbiased opinion about the product or company in question. If the history is wholly negative, that’s generally a red flag, and you may not want to consider that particular reviewer as a reliable source.


Sometimes there just isn’t any review history. In these cases, you’ll need to make your own judgement call on the review’s authenticity. My recommendation? Don’t put too much stock in any single review.


Jason McCloud, Digital Marketing Consultant

Whether you’re reviewing a product on Amazon or a 5-star hotel, you can almost count on that one angry customer to share a scathing review. Keep in mind: Everyone’s experiences are different because expectations and perspectives are different. Maybe that angry customer is never happy. Maybe that review is a fake (get tips on spotting fake reviews). Maybe that person did have a bad experience, but it doesn’t mean you should scrap your visit if you’re interested in the community — especially if there are other positive reviews about the community.


One negative or one positive review doesn’t tell the full story. Pay more attention to patterns and trends, and look for places that have received many reviews. This is usually a sign that the company or community been actively engaged in their business for some time, and is comfortable with responding to consumer concerns and compliments.

#Tip #2: Evaluate the company response.


Craig Simons

It’s not enough just to respond. Does the response look like robotic, “copy-paste” boilerplate, or is the response really tailored to the specific content mentioned in the review? Does it seem like the company is just checking a box, or are they really listening to the reviewer’s feedback, then showing tangible evidence of taking action on what’s been suggested? This makes a world of difference.

Jason-Mccloud-quoteJason McCloud

Notice if the reviewed care community, agency or company is interacting or responding to reviewers’ feedback, and if they are empathic to negative feedback. A bad review doesn’t automatically mean it’s a bad place or provider. If the company is aware or unaware of the bad review and doesn’t show an effort to resolve it — or make an apology for the less-than-satisfactory experience — that may speak louder than the review itself.


Responsiveness to reviews, whether positive or negative, says something about the organization, and shows that they’re tuned in to their online audience. But you’ll want to read responses carefully to determine their level of commitment to making things right (as in the case of a bad review), and not just responding for the sake of ticking off a box on a to-do list.

Tip #3: Read reviews on multiple sites, not just from one single source.


Craig Simons

There’s no one-stop shop that aggregates reviews from all sources (but there probably will be one day!). So it’s upon us as consumers to do our homework and check multiple sources to get a full sense of the online feedback a community has received.


Aside from resident and family review sites, consider checking out what employees say about working for the senior living company. Happy employees often translate into happy residents, so paying attention to employee reviews can help paint a picture. But as always, beware fake or inauthentic reviews.


Jason McCloud

Once you’ve selected your top 5 communities or care providers, compare reviews of the listings on a few different sites. The broader your view of other’s opinions of a company, the better.


Tip #4: Watch the language.


Craig Simons

While reading reviews, look for mini-stories that bring the review to life. Spotting fake or inauthentic reviews isn’t always easy, but there are some tell-tale signs. If a review is stuffed with positive or negative adjectives but there is no real story or detail behind the words, the review lacks credibility.


blog-5-rating-starFor example, consider this negative review: “The place is really awful. The staff is rude. The food tastes terrible. Stay away!” I wouldn’t give this review much credibility because it lacks substance. However, if the review included details, I would give it more value. For instance: “The place is really awful. One of the associates closed a door on my Mom during the tour and didn’t even apologize. And during lunch, the pasta was cold and overcooked.”


Jason McCloud

If a review is overly positive or negative, or filled with impressive-sounding jargon, don’t give it much thought. Look for reviews that actually compare communities or providers (i.e. this home care agency’s staff rep was much friendlier on the phone and at the first visit than this agency rep). Look for common threads in reviews too: the more people that are saying the same things about a particular community or care company, the better.


Tip #5: Don’t rely on reviews alone.


tip5-dont-rely-on-reviews-aloneCraig Simons

When you tour a community, chat with residents or family members you meet along the way. Ask people in your social or community circles who have been through the senior living search process with a parent or older loved one for their recommendations or insights. You can also ask the communities you’re interested in for references you can speak with — preferably family members of residents that have similar needs to your loved one.


Jason McCloud

Reviews can be helpful in getting a sense of what others are saying about a particular company, agency, or community. However, reading a good review or two shouldn’t be the only reason you choose a particular place or provider. Draw your conclusions based on the broader perspective of feedback from residents and staff during in-person tours, word-of-mouth recommendations, and how your loved one responded to a particular place or provider. Your parent or relative’s “review” is the one that matters most.

Stay tuned for more tips and insights at Open Conversations.

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