By Wendy D’Alessandro

What do the most highly rated senior living communities in America have in common? Did they buy their award-winning status as “Caring Stars” or are they recognized as exceptional because they truly deliver stellar care to those they serve? 

Long-time Senior Living Foresight readers may recall the Caring Stars award program and what it’s delivered for senior living communities who’ve earned the award over the past 8 years. As a refresher: this award was the first-of-its-kind to recognize service excellence in senior living based on consumer reviews. Once declared Caring Stars, winners in’s referral network have averaged double the move-ins than their competitors without the award. ( is a Senior Living Foresight partner.) 

You Have to Earn It

But is this award program ‘pay-to-play’ where you have to submit an entry fee and all entries win a prize? Do you have to be a partner of to earn this bottom-line boosting honor? 

“The award can be achieved by any senior living community or home care agency listed on that’s earned the reviews necessary to qualify,” says Caring Stars creator and reviews expert, Denise Graab (’s director of industry marketing). “There’s no application to enter nor an entry fee – instead we use the consumer reviews on the listings to determine the winners. And while we encourage our partners to participate, it’s not required that you advertise with Caring to be recognized.”

What It Takes

However, the bar is set high. For example, for the 2019 award, there were only 144 communities nationwide that qualified for this award, which was the first of its kind in our industry when originally launched in 2012. Here’s what each of those Caring Stars 2019 communities had in common:

    • Each had 10 or more consumer reviews on their listing and an overall average rating of 4.5 stars or higher by October 15, 2018 (the 2019 winners were announced later that fall). 
    • Each had 3 or more current or recent reviews, including at least one published in 2018, and at least one with a 5-star rating. 
    • Each publicly responded to any and all negative 1-star or 2-star reviews they had received on their listing at any time. 

This criteria is also detailed and published on Caring’s industry blog, and unfortunately disqualifies communities every year who achieve the volume of reviews and high ratings, but fail to respond to negative feedback.

“We take the integrity of our reviews program very seriously,” Graab says. “To help ensure we’re recognizing communities that truly earned consumers’ highest ratings and praise, we audit all reviews on all finalist listings against our review guidelines, before we make the winner determinations.” 

If you want to increase inquiries, tours, and move-ins for your community, consider the criteria met by our Caring Stars winners. Could your community be recognized for 2020?

The deadline to qualify is October 15, 2019. Graab shares more insights and tips in a recent post on Caring’s partner and industry blog here. Got questions? Email her at [email protected].