Thursday, April 18, 2013

Reviews, ratings and state complaints—Searching for the right Senior Facility

By Bob Gregory

Almost all consumers researching a business or product begin their search online and according to BIA/Kelsey, a leading Local Media and Advertising Expert company, that number is approximately 97% of consumers!  There are many sites that will help you find a senior facility that meets your needs and some offer reviews and ratings—other let you decide for yourself.  So with all this information available, should you trust online reviews and ratings?  That’s a good question and one that is asked quite often from the 97% that search online.  Anyone who purchases a product or service wants to feel confident in their purchase and often look to the experience of those who have purchased the product or service to help guide them.  Thus, the birth of the online review or rating systems!   I know a lot of consumers who immediately look for a product with the most positive reviews or a site with the highest ratings from users before they will ever commit to purchase a product or service.  Are they savvy online shoppers or are they being swayed by good advertising?
Posting reviews at the review party!
Posting reviews at the review party!
 (Photo credit: JJ's List (

Some sites that allow consumer reviews and ratings are attempting to offer some type of validation in an effort to give the user a sense of confidence in the reviews or ratings.  Some try to validate the “reviewer” by asking them to create an account via email and password or some other method to demonstrate the reviewer has purchased the product or service.  However, it is very easy to create an anonymous account and write a fake review.  It is not uncommon for companies to have employees, friends, family or even “paid reviewers” write glowing reviews for their company or product and at the same time post negative reviews or ratings for their competition.  This makes it very difficult to trust online reviews.  Even validation processes can only go so far and cannot actually verify the type of experience a consumer had with the product or service and in most cases, they cannot really validate that the reviewer was a consumer of the product or service.  There are some companies that apply algorithms to attempt to detect “fake” reviews in an effort to assist sites in removing them.  They look for key words or phrases to identify potential fake reviews.  Recently, TripAdvisor changed their slogan from “Reviews you can trust” to “Reviews from our community” over allegations that millions of their reviews might be fake!

Customer Service reviews and ratings are now e...
Customer Service reviews and ratings
 are now everywhere.
 (Photo credit: michaeljung)
But how do average consumers view reviews and ratings?  Amidst all the potential fake reviews, Local Consumer Review Survey 2012 reported that 72% of the consumers surveyed trusted online reviews as much as a personal recommendation!  Further, 52% said positive reviews would most likely cause them to use a local business.   In light of what I just wrote above, that’s pretty outstanding and somewhat unexplainable.  However, I think you need to take a step back and realize how the consumer psyche works. Most consumers want affirmation that they are making a good buying decision and it is usually for products that tend to be luxuries not necessities.  If you want to buy a new 3D High Definition flat screen, there’s nothing better than hundreds of great reviews to confirm this is definitely what you should do…also called justification.   However, if you need surgery, I don’t think you want to make your decision based on online reviews of the surgeon!

You are probably wondering how to take this information and use it to make the best decision in finding a Senior Facility for your elderly parent or yourself.  In my opinion, you should be very wary of both positive and negative reviews and ratings of Senior Facilities.  This is a very important decision and you should use every tool and every bit of information available to decide.  This includes visiting the facility, speaking with existing residents, asking for referrals from medical professionals and friends and finally, checking with the State Regulatory Agency to see if there have been formal complaints and charges.  It is also a good idea to ask the facility how they handled the complaint and what procedures are in place to prevent similar issues.  If you are seeking an Assisted Living Facility or a Nursing Home, your decision is extremely important to your elderly parent or yourself as you are “purchasing” very personal service and in the some cases, medical services.  Finally, in the field of elderly care, consumers are more likely to remember the one incident that really upset them over years of great care and service so be cautious when reading reviews or even receiving opinions from friends.  Make sure you get the whole story!

If would like a list Independent Living Facilities, Assisted Living Facilities, Nursing Homes or any other type of Senior Facility, I hope you will consider
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We look forward to reading yours.

Bob Gregory is an advocate for Seniors and is one of the founders of At, we are dedicated to helping families get the Elder Care help they need without having to provide their personal information! If find you need an assisted living facility or other type of senior facility, please consider

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