I have been sworn to secrecy until today and so it is with great anticipation that I can now share this with you!

By Steve Moran

I have known this was coming for a few months because of my friendship with David Slomovic, the author of The Unicorn Project but had been sworn to secrecy until today and so it was with great anticipation that I looked forward to the press release and webinar presentation on the initial findings.

J.D. Power is a global leader in consumer insights and they are jumping into the senior living space big time. They recently completed their first ever Senior Living Satisfaction StudySM (press release). They received 2,539 responses from residents (or the residents decision-maker) who have lived in the following senior living communities sometime during the last 5 years:

  • Atria Senior Living Group

  • Capital Senior Living

  • Five Star Quality Care

  • Holiday Retirement

  • Senior Lifestyle Corporation

  • Brookdale Senior Living

  • Sunrise Senior Living

JD Power uses a 1,000 point scale with 1,000 being a perfect score and 100 being a complete fail. Sunrise Senior Living had the highest score at 802, followed by Holiday Retirement at 792.

The survey looked at 6 areas that comprise the resident experience (in order of importance):

  1. Caregivers and staff

  2. Services and activities

  3. The cost of services

  4. Physical plant

  5. Food & beverage

  6. How service is delivered and new resident orientation


You can look at the press release to see the list of their initial findings but there were two that stood out:

  • The overall industry satisfaction was 764, which is not terrific compared to say the hospitality industry. This is hugely important because specific to senior living if your residents are pleased with your customer service (a score of 751-900) there is a 70% likelihood the resident will stay in the community and a 74% chance they will recommend the community to others.

    If in the delighted range there is a 92% likelihood to recommend and an 87% likelihood they will stay in the community.  

  • Most surprising to me was that when senior living consumers use a referral agency like APM, Caring.com or Carepatrol they are 16% more satisfied with their senior living experience than when they used no referral service at all.

Thinking About It

This could be a significant, maybe even watershed moment for senior living. We know for instance that a 1-star difference in a restaurant’s Yelp rating can translate into thousands and thousands of dollars per month of lost or gained revenue. But here are some initial . . . sort of random thoughts:

  • Not in the press release but from their webinar . . . using their scale of 100-1,000 means that 500 is average. In senior living if a company was at 500 you have a big percentage of “brand assassins,” these are folks who are actively going around and saying negative things.  

  • Again from the webinar . . . they took a look very specifically at brand image and the one thing that really stood out was that a very high percentage of respondents feel like senior living companies care more about profits than they do about residents . . . and this is not at all good.

  • Without going into detail, the rankings from JD Powers and what you see at say, Glassdoor are not consistent. By coincidence yesterday we published an article on how we evaluate ourselves, and none of the senior living companies with the best Glassdoor ratings were even included in the JD Powers survey.  

    I believe that targeting some of the mid-sized organizations would have generated measurably higher scores.

  • The other big hole is that not-for-profit providers were not included in the survey process which may very well have kept the scores lower.    

At the end of the day, this is about shining the light on what we do. It is a great way to celebrate the best of the best and a gift to those companies that have lower scores because it gives them something to shoot for. I actually think it would be really exciting to be inside the corporate offices of Five Star or Brookdale and map out how they can top Sunrise in the 2019 survey. In my mind, there is not a single organization that is not within shooting distance of a top score or the top score.

More reflections and a conversation with David Slomovic next week.