Jennifer Young is a regular reader of Senior Housing Forum, and perhaps our most prolific commenter . . . we should be paying attention to what she is saying.

By Steve Moran

Jennifer Young is a regular reader of Senior Housing Forum, and perhaps our most prolific commenter . . . we should be paying attention to what she is saying. She is a CCRC resident, so if you are an assisted living, skilled nusring, or nursing home provider you might be tempted to think “not applicable to me”; however, she is your ideal independent living resident and, maybe someday, even your ideal assisted living resident.

A Resident Speaks

Recently, I published an article titled Your Photos Are Supposed To Make Me Like Your Community Not Drive Me Away and Jennifer wrote a long response that deserved to be turned into an article. What follows is a heavily formatted version of what she wrote. You can see her original post by clicking on the link above.

  • I write here as a resident residing in my 2nd CCRC (my parents exposed me to CCRC living when they made their choice over 20 years ago, so I’ve really had solid exposure to 3 communities).

  • When I started my own search, I was surprised that a community’s website didn’t indicate if it was not for profit.

  • It didn’t indicate the types of contracts offered (Life Care, modified, fee-for-service, for example). It didn’t indicate if it offered refund contracts.

  • Rates were not available on the site.

  • Even sending off for the marketing literature didn’t help regarding not for profit, but at least there usually were rate sheets and types of contracts provided.

  • Why not cut to the chase and provide all this helpful information to the online shopper?

    Marketing might explain this away as “we want to describe those details personally,” but it was frustrating as a shopper to have to take the extra time to call and then start the game of telephone tag or fill out a “Contact Me” area on the site thus exposing my email and wondering if that particular place caused an uptick in spam and advertisements.

  • Also, the printed Directory of Providers (for which LeadingAge, then AAHSA charged $54 to my best recollection) permitted those communities that were CARF-accredited to “jump out” at the peruser with the printed CARF logo next to a community’s listing.

    It also provided the size, by listing the number of IL units, the number of SNF beds, etc. Very helpful to me as I began my search in the mid-2000s.

    Then the printed Directory, I was told, went away in favor of online. Makes sense, but now LeadingAge’s online Directory — something that should and could be updated in real time — doesn’t easily show that CARF accreditation seal. No stats as to size.

    If I were a provider and had spent the time, effort, and dollars to obtain/maintain that CARF accreditation, I would have howled at Leading Age “doing away” with that quick, noticeable seal. As a shopper, I howled about not easily seeing the size figures as well. My howling fell on deaf ears.

    Too bad, because as a leading-edge baby boomer, I think my observations might be helpful. But so far it’s been to no avail.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line here is that consumers want to be able to access all the information they need online. This is not unreasonable. When I am looking at products or services online I want to find the information I want to find. I don’t want to fill out a contact form to get information. In fact, the best way to get me to not like your product or service is the make me call or email you to get basic information.   

Sure if you post prices and other information I might end up deciding I am not going to go further with my exploration of what you are selling, but honestly, have an email exchange or phone conversation would have the same result except for one thing . . .

It will have wasted more of my time . . . AND YOURS.   

Wouldn’t you rather spend your time with people who are a fit than with those who are not?

Finally, you may be thinking, well the website doesn’t really do justice to our story and that is why I need to have a conversation . . . okay, maybe that makes sense, but it might also mean you need to make your website content better, which comes back to Jennifer’s response.

How would your organization stack up to Jennifer’s list?