By Steve Moran

I was playing with AI, asking it to tell me about the best and worst senior living communities in a marketplace, which led me to looking at some Google reviews in that marketplace. I came across this particular review response that stopped me in my tracks:

Sue, we respectfully disagree with how you characterized your aunt’s stay at Happy Acres, specifically the care and treatment she received here. As a top-rated community by CMS, we demand the highest quality of services for those residents and families we serve. Your claims are serious, and to maintain your mother’s privacy, we’d be happy to address your concerns directly. Please connect with [administrator’s name] at [phone number].

I was struck by the harshness of the response. My immediate reaction was that they must be lying, covering up something.

What this response completely misses is that this is the family’s real perception, which in fact means there was a real problem.

The Trigger

While writing this article, I realized you are wanting to know what triggered this response. Here is it:

I feel as though my mother’s care was very low budget … the food was horrible … most of the time it looked like ground-up dog food. Many times we had to bring in food so my mother would have something to eat … The nursing staff were the pits …!!! The CNA’S would stand back and watch us clean and care for our mother … I would never recommend this facility to anyone’s ailing parent.

I know the community, visited it, and liked it. I was surprised by the review.


Perhaps what gets missed is that there are real people who are writing bad reviews, people who feel like they did not get what they expected, what they deserved. Reviews are not just something to be responded to because they can help or hurt your business, they are from real people who are often dealing with decline and have no idea what to expect and how to handle the decline that inevitably comes with aging.

These negative reviews are cries of pain looking for relief.

So Much Better

While I get there are legal implications in all of this, it would have been so much better for the community to say simply:

We hate hearing this about our community and our care. We work really hard to provide five-star care and to make residents and their families completely satisfied. Clearly that did not happen here. Can we talk about how we can make it better for you, your aunt, and all of our other residents?

That review would seem more credible and would likely result in tangible changes in the community so that this would not happen again.

Note: The reviews had minor edits to protect everyone.