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Denise Graab

Director, Reviews Program & Marketing

Denise Graab joined Caring.com in September 2010, and has 20+ years experience in communications, with a focus on social media marketing for the last decade. In her current role at Caring, she helps senior living communities and home care agencies understand how best to harness the opportunities of digital marketing, including getting and responding to online senior care reviews.

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Articles and Webinars

Essential Strategies for Responding to Reviews about Senior Living and Senior Care

In today’s digital landscape, with care seekers turning to online resources to research and select senior living communities and senior care agencies: responding to service feedback in online reviews is crucial for your sales and marketing success.

In fact, seniors and their families are more likely to engage with businesses that actively manage their online reputation. Research from BrightLocal indicates:

  • 88% of U.S. consumers are likely to use a business that responds to both positive and negative reviews.

  • If you only have time to respond to negative ones: 58% will remain likely to use your business.

  • If you fail to publish responses to reviews: Almost half (47%) have said they won’t use your business.

Responding to online reviews can also help you further build your reputation. A study by Harvard Business Review demonstrated that within six months of actively responding to reviews, businesses can see an increase in both the volume of reviews and their overall average rating. This improvement can lead to greater engagement and success.

Also keep in mind: to be considered for the annual Caring Stars award, communities and agencies must publish a response to all 1-star or 2-star negative reviews on their Caring.com listing (or effectively contest and remove them) by the qualification deadline of October 15th.

Now that you understand why it’s important to actively manage your online reputation, let’s outline some key strategies to help you be most effective in doing so, culled from our March 2024 webinar, “Feedback Finesse.”

Establish a Plan & Tools for Monitoring Reviews

There are tools and processes that can help you monitor reviews at scale. Here are three key ways to do this:

1. Automated, instant alerts — Some review sites offer this service via email when a new review is posted. Caring partners, for instance, receive New Review Alert emails with a convenient link to publish a response, no login required, and priority processing.

Tip: Determine where you want to focus your efforts, where you’re getting the most reviews, and which sites are ranking highest or are easiest for your potential customers to find and read the reviews. Then reach out to learn more about your alert options for those sites.

2. A monitoring software subscription — There are reputation management platforms that help businesses monitor their reputation across multiple websites — use one that has legitimate integrations with the reviews’ websites and isn’t just scraping the reviews off the web. These platforms typically have other services like reputation analysis too. They’re particularly good for larger businesses with many locations.

Tip: Caring has authorized reviews-sharing agreements with Consumer Fusion, Influence Network, Reputation.com, ReviewTrackers, Shout About Us, SAVANT, and SOCi. Communities and agencies can use these platforms to easily respond to reviews on Caring.com.

3. Manual tracking — If you can’t get alerts and you don’t have a subscription to a monitoring platform, you can keep a spreadsheet of your online profiles and periodically check them for new reviews. This is the most time-intensive, slowest, and least effective option, but it is a workaround if you can’t take advantage of other solutions.

Tip: If you’re not a Caring partner, and aren’t using one of the platforms we’re integrated with, you can still respond to reviews on your business listing. Simply email reviews@caring.com.

Decide How You’ll Respond

When you get a new review, ask yourself some questions to determine the best course of action: publish a public response or request review removal?

Have you read the review guidelines for the website? (Here are the Caring.com Reviews Guidelines.) Do you see anything in the review’s content that you think doesn’t meet the guidelines? If so, flag it to the site for re-evaluation and possible removal.

Here are valid vs. invalid reasons for getting a review removed from Caring.com:

If contesting a review on Caring.com for factual inaccuracy, we ask that you provide substantive counterfacts. We don’t remove reviews based on differences of subjective opinions, so here’s a chart to help you discern fact-based vs. opinion-based content:

If there are no valid removal reasons, take the opportunity to publish a response.

Whether you publish a response or request review removal, online reviews can also offer your business a window into customer sentiments, and opportunities to evaluate your business strengths and areas for improvement. These insights — even the painful ones — can help you further enhance your services and grow your business.

Do’s & Don’ts of Publishing Responses

When responding to reviews, remember to follow best practices to maintain professionalism and effectiveness:

  • Thank the reviewer for their feedback.

  • Be empathetic, conversational, and authentic — demonstrate service excellence and your humanity in a person-centered, care-oriented business.

  • Offer to discuss any issues directly, offline.

  • Don’t share private healthcare details or personal information in your response. Keep HIPAA in mind.

  • Don’t make disparaging remarks about the reviewer, such as comments about their personal habits or financial management.

  • Avoid debating the feedback or being defensive about negative reviews. Recognize that the feedback may be more about the circumstances of the reviewer than the business receiving the review — this is especially relevant and important during times of grief. Avoid taking it personally, while also avoiding blaming the reviewer or being dismissive of their feedback.

Maintaining a professional tone and addressing concerns constructively can enhance your business’s image and encourage more positive interactions. Our review response webinar provides example responses published on Caring.com for both positive and negative reviews, and tips for how to use AI tools like ChatGPT to help you craft well-written responses.

Review responses for Caring.com must also adhere to our review response guidelines — avoiding libel and privacy violations, and including specific fields of information (such as who specifically at your organization is responding on behalf of the organization).

Help is Available and This is Worth Your Attention

Responding to online reviews is not just a reactive measure but a proactive strategy that can significantly impact your business’s reputation and customer engagement. By actively managing your online presence, addressing customer feedback constructively, and adhering to best practices, you can foster a positive image and drive greater success.

For more information or help with review responses, please contact reviews@caring.com.

How Home Care Agencies Get Reviews on Caring.com

Any in-home care agency listed in Caring.com's home care directory for senior care searchers online can receive online reviews from their cognitively-healthy clients and clients' family members. These consumer reviews can be positive, negative, or in-between, and are published (or removed) based on the Review Guidelines. The reviews are so important to senior care searchers online that Caring.com uses them to rank the results for the in-home care directory. Caring.com has also found that listings with reviews can get more inquiries, and agencies with online reviews are more likely to get callbacks from prospects (and ultimately conversions to new clients) than agencies without online reviews.

Given how helpful and influential online reviews are, here's how your agency can build its collection of great reviews on our site.

How Any Agency Gets Reviews:

  • Dedicated review submission form - Every listing in the Caring.com directory has a unique link for cognitively-healthy clients and their family members to submit their feedback about a home care agency's services in reviews on Caring.com. This link is accessible for the agency to share with its customer via the "Write a Review" button at the top of the reviews section on the listing. Consumer reviews submitted via that form are typically processed within three (3) business days, so it's the fastest, easiest way for the agency to get new reviews, particularly with more older adults and their adult children online nowadays than ever before.

  • Home Care Pulse program - For agencies partnered with Home Care Pulse, we have integration between their telephonic surveys of home care clients and our reviews program. It's easy to opt-in and there's no additional charge to have the feedback pushed to Caring.com as reviews.

Another Option for Caring.com Partners:

  • Phone review program — We offer a toll-free phone number that your agency clients and their family members can call to give their review by phone. Our review collection agents will guide callers through a brief, relevant interview to record quality reviews detailing the consumers' firsthand experiences with our partners' in-home care services. Contact our reviews team to get the phone number for your happy customers. Alternatively, home care agencies partnered with Caring.com can send us the names and telephone numbers of cognitively-healthy clients and their family members (with their explicit consent for sharing that info with Caring.com) and we’ll call them for their reviews. Note: This option can take longer than online submissions, given extra steps involved (from reaching the reviewer by phone, to transcribing the review from the recording phone call, as well as uploading and processing the review against the guidelines). It's a good option though for folks who aren't comfortable online yet.

How to Respond to the Reviews Your Community Receives:

All home care agencies with reviews on their Caring.com listing can publish a response — for both positive and negative reviews — and listed businesses also have the option to request removal of the review if there are fact errors or guidelines concerns.

Our partners will receive a New Review Alert emailed to their inbox the instant any new reviews are published on their listing. Those alerts include convenient quick links to publish a response or contest the review, and by using the alerts, the message reaches our highest priority processing queue. Contact your Caring.com account executive if you need to make changes for who at your agency is getting the alerts. (Don't know who your account executive is? Please contact hc_helpdesk@caring.com for help with your account.)

Have questions about online reviews? Our reviews team can be reached by email or phone: reviews@caring.com or (650) 762-8190. We also have an entire section of this blog dedicated to information about the reviews program — please do check out the best practices and case studies we’ve showcased in the Reviews Info center.

Four Senior Living Communities in Berks County Awarded Caring Stars

Caring Stars is a service excellence award and trustworthy annual list of the best senior living communities and senior care agencies based on consumer ratings and reviews on Caring.com. These top-rated senior living communities and in-home care agencies have a lot of great reviews, top ratings, recent reviews, and responses to all negative reviews too. Each year, Caring.com uses a specific set of reviews-based criteria that the communities and agencies must meet in order to be considered for the award — and the bar is purposefully set high to ensure that the program continues to truly represent those communities and agencies best meeting the needs of seniors and their families.

Digital Marketing Kudos: The Northbridge Companies Reaping Rewards from Social Marketing

For years, we’ve been telling you about the power of social media for marketing senior care businesses — whether through consumer reviews or social networking. Among the savvy senior living organizations that recognized and successfully harnessed this opportunity is The Northbridge Companies.

In a recent Senior Housing News article, they featured some of the ways they’ve been reaping rewards from their efforts:

  • 70% of their new leads are now coming from Facebook, Twitter, and referral companies (including Caring.com).

  • Families are arriving at their 15 communities in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine armed with information they’ve read on the company’s social media profiles and/or website. As CEO and co-founder James Coughlin told SHN: “…families that are walking through the door have already pre-qualified us. They’ve done all the research, they know our rates.”

  • One campaign in Maine — a video that cost $1000 to produce — has gone relatively viral, with 40,000 views since April 21st, more than 1650 shares on Facebook (The Northbridge Companies will donate $1 per share to the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund), and memory care leads being directly attributed to it.

The Northbridge Companies is also wisely incorporating social media into their traditional campaigns, such as direct mail and print media advertisements. “We do traditional types of marketing, but everything drives to the social media,” Wendy Nowokunski (co-founder and president) told SHN.

Visit their website, and you’ll easily find links to their social media profiles on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube — as well as to their blog. Visit those social profiles and you’ll see plenty of positive activity, including lots of followers, likes, retweets, and video views. They have a dedicated team for their social marketing, and have made the necessary investment in using social strategically for business results.

Well done, Northbridge Companies! You’re proving that social media can be an effective source of consumer engagement — whether to attract prospects, build relationships with residents and residents’ family members, and/or to support your staff recruiting and retention goals. Your social media investment is paying off as it should, and you’ve set an excellent example for others. Kudos!

Home Care Agency Search: Results Ranking for Reviews

As we've covered in our Digital Marketing Academy and in prior posts on this blog: Online consumer reviews are making a significant impact in the senior care industry.

When a family caregiver goes online to find a home care agency for aging parent(s), reviews from other consumers help to narrow local agency options, give insights about what's working (and not working) for other clients, and build awareness of one agency's overall reputation over another.

Recognizing the importance of this online word-of-mouth in helping family caregivers and older adults find the right agency for their needs, we're now using consumer reviews to prioritize listings in search results for our home care directory. Partner listings with the most reviews and best ratings will now rank highest.

For example, when an adult daughter visits www.caring.com and searches for home care agencies in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, at the top of the list she's shown are the partner listings with the most reviews. If two Caring.com partners have the same number of reviews, we'll secondarily sort by overall average rating across all of their reviews. (The reviews sort will also apply for the home care agencies not yet signed up for screened leads from us -- however, their listings will still be further down the list.)

This is yet one more reason to make consumer reviews among your top digital marketing (and content marketing) strategies.

Need to get up-to-speed on reviews best practices, the specific monetary value they're adding for senior care businesses, and how to optimize your online reputation? We covered all of these topics and more in a recent webinar, "The Value of Consumer Reviews: How to Harness this Senior Care Opportunity." We also offer tips for responding to negative feedback.

Not yet getting screened leads for your home care agency? Get in touch with our team: (855) 590-8989.

Already a client and need to make adjustments to your account? Please contact our Client Services team.

Best Senior Care: Caring Super Stars 2022

The Caring Super Stars of 2022 for senior care are home care, home health care and hospice agencies who have earned the Caring Stars reviews award for 2022 plus two or more additional years since this award program expanded to include home care agencies in 2017, after being the first-of-its-kind for senior living communities since 2012. These are the repeatedly stellar home care agencies that seniors and their family members praise — year after year.

Caring Super Stars in Home Care for 2022

ALABAMA — 6 agencies

ARIZONA — 10 agencies

ARKANSAS — 4 agencies

CALIFORNIA — 39 agencies

COLORADO — 10 agencies

CONNECTICUT — 9 agencies

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA — 1 agency

FLORIDA — 30 agencies

GEORGIA — 6 agencies

HAWAII — 1 agency

ILLINOIS — 15 agencies

INDIANA — 5 agencies

IOWA — 1 agency

KANSAS — 1 agency

KENTUCKY — 1 agency

LOUISIANA — 2 agencies

MAINE — 1 agency

MARYLAND — 7 agencies

MASSACHUSETTS — 10 agencies

MICHIGAN — 14 agencies

MINNESOTA — 3 agencies

MISSISSIPPI — 2 agencies

MISSOURI — 8 agencies

MONTANA — 1 agency

NEBRASKA — 1 agency

NEVADA — 4 agencies

NEW HAMPSHIRE — 3 agencies

NEW JERSEY — 11 agencies

NEW MEXICO — 1 agency

NEW YORK — 18 agencies

Right at Home North Shore Long Island

NORTH CAROLINA — 6 agencies

OHIO — 15 agencies

OKLAHOMA — 4 agencies

OREGON — 5 agencies

PENNSYLVANIA — 10 agencies

SOUTH CAROLINA — 4 agencies

TENNESSEE — 5 agencies

TEXAS — 26 agencies

UTAH — 7 agencies

VIRGINIA — 11 agencies

WASHINGTON — 5 agencies

WEST VIRGINIA — 1 agency

WISCONSIN — 9 agencies

Congratulations to these 333 home care agencies across the United States!

***See the full list of Caring Stars of 2022.

Time to Shine: How to Qualify for Caring Stars 2024

In a recent webinar about qualifying for Caring Stars 2024, we shared the incredible journey of the Caring Stars award program and how it elevates senior living communities or in-home care agencies to the top of care seekers’ lists. 

The deadline for the 2024 Caring Stars award is fast approaching: you must have the required stellar reviews profile on Caring.com by October 15, 2023. To help you understand and achieve this highly-coveted award, we’ve compiled the following critical information for maximizing your reputation on Caring.com.

Why is Caring Stars Worth Your Time & Attention? 

Since its groundbreaking launch in January 2012 as the very first “best senior living” award based on consumer reviews, Caring Stars has evolved into a powerful emblem of excellence within our industry — now encompassing all senior living and senior care directories on Caring.com. 

You read that right: Any senior living community or senior care agency listed on Caring.com can qualify for the Caring Stars award. 

And unlike other now-similar award programs, there is no application process or fees for Caring Stars, and Caring Stars winners get free promotional gifts too (there are no licensing fees for winners to use the Caring Stars badge). We also don’t require that you be a Caring partner to be eligible for this prestigious award — though our free reputation management support services for partners do help. 

Here's why Caring Stars can be a game-changer for your business:

  • Positive PR and Marketing Buzz — Being a Caring Stars recipient is more than an accolade; it's a beacon that attracts attention and trust. This recognition generates positive PR and establishes your community or agency as a go-to choice for seniors and families. You can see real examples of this in the Caring Stars 2023 winner webinar

  • Engagement and Excitement — Caring Stars doesn't just signify excellence; it engages and excites your stakeholders. It fosters brand loyalty and strengthens the connection between you and your constituents, which can be invaluable for maintaining and growing the success of your business. 

  • Recruitment and Retention Support —  In an industry where recruiting and retaining staff is a continuous challenge, Caring Stars showcases your commitment to quality and can make you an employer of choice.

  • A Trusted Guide — Caring Stars has become more than an award — it's a trustworthy go-to guide for seniors and their families. Its credibility is why for the past two years, Fortune has used it to rank the best cities for seniors and families. 

This reviews program has been proven to attract prospective customers for Caring Stars winners — boosting inquiries and conversions for Caring partners in particular. For example, in 2021 and 2022, the senior living winners partnered with Caring averaged nearly twice as many new resident inquiries and almost three times as many move-ins as Caring’s community partners without the award. This proprietary data is another signal of the power of consumer reviews in helping seniors and their families find the best service providers. 

What Does It Take to Win? 

Earning the Caring Stars status isn't easy, but the journey is worth it. The focus on obtaining and responding to reviews is the key. 

To be eligible for the 2024 award, here are the essential review metrics to aim for…

For senior care agencies and senior living communities with a resident capacity of 21 or higher, you should have:

  • At least 15 published reviews on your Caring.com listing by the October 15th deadline

  • Across all of those published reviews, an overall average rating of 4.5 stars or higher

  • A minimum of 4 reviews since October 15 of the previous year (4 published reviews between 10/15/22 - 10/15/23)

  • One or more 5-star published reviews with dates in 2023 (at least one 5-star published review dated on or between 1/1/23 - 10/15/23)

  • A published response on every 1-star and 2-star review across all time

For smaller senior living communities and residential care homes having 20 or fewer resident capacity: The qualification criteria and reviews recommendations are different. In this case, you still need to have a 4.5 stars overall average rating or higher, with one or more 5-star reviews in 2023. You also need to have a response to every negative review. But your total reviews volume requirement is lower, both in total reviews across all time and in the recent year qualification time frame. If your senior living community aligns with this smaller capacity, make sure your Caring.com listing has up-to-date resident capacity information or you’ll be judged at the higher review volume thresholds instead.

How To Build A Stellar Reviews Profile for Caring Stars

Before we dive into specific resources to help you get and respond to reviews, let’s first help you avoid a common mistake that can hold you back: asking the wrong people for reviews to meet the Caring Stars requirements faster. 

We’re focused on publishing genuine reviews from cognitively healthy seniors and their families. We host their first-hand feedback about your services, and we do not publish reviews submitted by your employees, any industry insiders, or anyone else with a conflict of interest. This policy is covered in our review guidelines too. 

And here are two more important tips: 

  • Don’t collect and/or upload reviews to Caring.com on behalf of your customers. Our dedicated staff is primed to assist seniors and their families who need a hand in submitting their reviews. 

  • Encourage senior living community residents to steer clear of using their real names as their reviewer screen names — this is a simple measure to protect their privacy, since their home address is published on the listing. 

The fastest, easiest way for your customers to add reviews is via your dedicated review entry form on Caring.com. Point your customers directly to it to save them time and make it as convenient as possible for them to help you achieve Caring Stars status. Not sure of your review form link? Contact our team for help.  

With our reviews-by-phone services, we also have tech-challenged seniors covered! Communities and agencies in our partner network have free access to our award-winning Review Call-in Line and “Review Us on Caring” handouts. 

And that's not all! 

  • If your senior care agency is using Home Care Pulse: we’ve been integrated with them since 2017, with a monthly reviews feed for participating agencies. Many agencies on the 2023 winner list took advantage of this option to get reviews. 

  • For senior living communities in our partner network: we’re doing automatic outreach to the care seekers we've directed your way – collecting their reviews about their tours and choice of your community. And you have access to a nifty tool in Partner Portal to streamline your review request outreach too. 

For all review collection sources in both senior living and senior care: Don't worry if we didn't make the initial introduction of the customer – we’ll accept reviews for all qualified consumers even if we weren’t the original referral source of them to your business. 

To earn the prestigious Caring Stars recognition, it's also crucial that any and all 1-star or 2-star reviews on your Caring.com listing (across all time) either have a published response or are contested and removed by the 10/15 deadline.

Here are three main ways to respond to reviews on Caring.com:

For an in-depth understanding of how to effectively contest reviews to have them removed, or for tips on how to optimize your published review responses, please refer back to our prior webinar, “From Complaint to Compliment: How to Respond to Online Consumer Reviews.” The Caring Stars 2024 qualification webinar also has a summary of tips for review response. 

Caring Stars deserve the spotlight, and we help shine it on them. Don’t be outshined by your local competitors! Make sure your community or agency is on the 2024 winner list. 

To learn more, please revisit the Caring Stars 2024 webinar recording or read through the slides. Or contact reviews@caring.com or (650) 762-8190 to reach our Caring Reviews team. 

MyPortal for Home Care Agencies: A Simple Yet Powerful Tool for Managing Your New Client Referrals

How are you currently keeping track of the screened leads Caring.com sends you?

Are they sitting in your email inbox, or a file folder of those emails printed on paper? Re-typing them all into a spreadsheet? In a text message archive on your smartphone? Or are you not really keeping track yet? We know that as an in-home care agency owner and/or business manager, you're juggling a lot. We understand you don't always have a lot of time to take a step back from the hustle and bustle of your daily work to analyze your online lead volume and how well it's positively impacting your bottom line. This may especially ring true for those running or managing small businesses without a large marketing team or digital agency to do the tracking, reporting, and analysis for you.

With the needs of our in-home care agency partners in mind: we've created and launched a simple new online tool to help you more efficiently and effectively keep track of all of the referrals we're sending to your agency — and self-serve to adjust your lead volume as you wish.

With MyPortal for Home Care Agencies, our partners can:

  • See and set statuses on all of the lead referrals from Caring.com

  • Adjust the agency's lead volume to get more (or less) leads from Caring per month

  • Search the lead archive by name, email, or zip code to follow up with specific prospective clients

  • Download the information into a CSV file as needed

  • And more!

It's free, easy-to-use, and all at your fingertips from anywhere you can access the Internet (and mobile-friendly too).

Here's a sample or sneak peek at the referral list feature:

Ready to get started in using this tool for your agency? Contact your Caring.com account executive or email our MyPortal manager for an invitation. Also, if you already receive screened in-home care leads from us, you can go to myportal.caring.com, click the "forgot password" link, and then set a password to gain access.

"I wanted to use the portal for reporting and analysis of the referral program with Caring, and it is exactly what I needed. The basic lead numbers and statuses are what I was looking for, and those are in there. I was also able to go back in time and see previous data from prior to the portal being available, which was really helpful." — Rick Ferrante, President of Home Care Services Santa Clarita

Senior Living Industry Reflections and Predictions: An Interview with Steve Moran of Senior Living Foresight

If you went to any senior living industry events in 2022 or joined industry conversations on LinkedIn, chances are you’ve likely seen, encountered or heard about Steve Moran of Senior Living Foresight. Described by aging expert, Dr. Bill Thomas as “the town crier of this industry” and known for being forthright in sharing his opinions, Steve’s been writing about and discussing various aspects of senior living for over a decade — covering topics spanning from resident and staff engagement and enrichment, to sales, marketing and building a successful brand. 

Caring partnered with Steve early on, to support the mission of advancing our industry’s knowledge and success, and recently interviewed him to learn more about his influence in our industry and where he thinks the greatest opportunities lie for the months and years ahead.

Caring: You began writing the “Senior Housing Forum” blog back in 2011, and changed the name to “Senior Living Foresight” in August 2019, with an expanded content offering and increased event participation in recent years. 

Why did you start blogging about this industry — were any of your prior professional experiences relevant to senior living blogging (if so, how)? 

What were some of the industry shifts or other influences behind the name change and programmatic additions you’ve made over the years? 

Steve: I worked for a senior living organization out of Beverly Hills for several years and fell in love with the business.  When that company collapsed, I spent some time working in the electronics industry in Silicon Valley.  I didn’t like it very much and wasn’t that good at it.   

When I decided to change directions, I got to thinking about what I could do, what I liked and realized that senior living was it. I took the first job I could find which was selling emergency call systems and the same week launched the new website, Senior Housing Forum using a $5-a-month hosting plan and a free WordPress template.   My original idea was that it would help me sell more call systems.  

Then I started seeing ways the industry could improve and started writing about my ideas and those ideas resonated with the industry and helped leaders lead better.  

Since that initial website, we have done about four major redesigns and countless minor revisions. Since we launched, we have expanded a lot. At first it was a website and an email newsletter. Today those still exist, but we have a huge LinkedIn presence, a strong Facebook leadership group, a podcast, and several livestreams every week. 

At the end of the day, we are 100% committed to the idea that we want to improve the lives of people who work and live in senior living. 

Caring: At the top left of your homepage near the platform logo are these words: “Increasing Occupancy. Reducing Turnover. Creating Culture.” Tell us more about why you chose these 3 areas, and if/how these themes play out across your partnerships and content. 

Steve: The initial idea was to ask ourselves, “What are the big problems that we can help industry leaders solve?” and it was those three things. We continue to believe that when senior living organizations get those things right, they will make the world a better place for their residents and family members, for team members and for their local marketplace communities.   I would add though that in some sense the list is backward. It starts with culture and when you get culture right you will have lower turnover, and when you get those two things right you will have higher occupancy. 

Over the last year, I developed a new keynote speech titled, “Look to the Sky,” where I talk about how to create a culture where everyone loves coming to work every day.  While working on that speech, I came to realize that it all starts with having a purpose for your organization — that purpose has to be profound and something that every single team member in the organization can call their own.  

For us at Senior Living Foresight, it is making the lives of people who live and work in senior living better. 

Caring: What have been some of the most surprising or most exciting things you’ve learned about the senior living industry since you started covering it? 

Steve: The first thing is that almost everyone in the industry really cares about making the world a better place for older people. There is also a certain level of restlessness and frustration about the state of the industry as it is today, meaning there is a recognition that as great as it is, we can be better. 

At the same time, we are a pretty risk averse industry which makes us timid about changing even when we know we should. It’s easy to understand, change equals risk and not changing feels less risky, even though it may not be.  There are so many companies that didn’t change that are out of business like Kodak, Palm Pilot, Blockbuster Video and more. 

Caring: You have a lot of opinions on how large providers are doing with respect to their overall business. What are two or three things you think they need to do better immediately?

Steve: You would ask me that wouldn’t you?! The biggest challenge that large providers have is that their systems for doing business become more important than people. This in turn means that people are viewed as more of a cost center than as an asset. Team members have great ideas about how to make their communities better.  They understand problems better than corporate leaders, they understand solutions better than corporate leaders and they want to be heard.  Mostly they feel like they are not valued and not heard. If I had a poor performing building, I would start by going to that building (or those buildings) and say, “We are struggling here, you know it and I know. What are your ideas for making it better?”  Then really listen and figure out which things make sense and how to make them happen.  It sounds stupid simple — actually it is, but it will yield results and rapidly. 

Caring: Sometimes your opinions are viewed as controversial or challenging of the status quo. Are you finding your approach effective for initiating positive change in the industry? Have there been instances in which you regretted how you approached a subject, or conversely, instances you wish you’d done further with ‘pushing the envelope’? What does it take to get you to change your point of view on a subject? 

Steve: Heavy question. First, I am a huge, huge fan of senior living. It is making a positive impact on the lives of residents and team members and yet we have big challenges that are reflected in occupancy and staff turnover.   

Early on, I would write scathing articles about something in senior living, then realize they were simply rants and I didn’t publish them.  I have also written articles, then rethought the topic and written a follow-up article saying, “I changed my mind.”  I am sure if I went through every article, there would be a few I wish I hadn’t written but there are none that stand out as embarrassingly cringe worthy. 

One of the most curious parts of writing critical articles is how often I will get messages from people inside the organizations I am critical of, who say, “I am glad someone had the courage to say that.”

Part of what makes this hard is that I am someone who welcomes criticism, even if I disagree with it. I love the fans, and the kind words. 

It is much harder to be critical today than it was when I started out.  Back then, I knew very few people so it was easier to blast away.  Today when I write something critical, I can usually put names and faces of people I know, people I have met and even spent time with that will be upset with what I wrote.  

Right now I have an article I wrote several weeks ago that I have not submitted for publication because I know a significant number of people will be unhappy about it.  But it is something that needs to be talked about. 

Finally I try to never write a critical article about anything without offering up an idea for a better way to do things. 

Caring: In this industry, there’s a lot of emphasis on lead generation. What do you think the lead generation landscape looks like in 5 years?

Steve: There are several clumps of low-hanging fruit that are mostly unpicked when it comes to lead gen. 

  • Just getting out into the marketplace, building relationships with people who can help you help residents. 

  • Making the community more available to people who need a place to do an event or have a meeting.  I am talking about groups with no obvious tie to older people.  Scouting groups, mom’s groups, social clubs, climbing and fishing groups. The more people a community touches, the more leads that will show up. 

  • We are terrible about telling stories of changed lives. Giving a spouse who is not yet ready for senior living a new lease on life. Relieving the guilt and worry of a daughter or son. Telling those stories rather than simply saying we do that are hugely different. We are not telling stories about residents who come back to life, who fall in love, who find new hobbies, who are continuing to change the world.  There are so many stories.

  • The most recent thing I am thinking about is this question: How do we make senior living more fun?  For residents, for adult family members, for team members. Right now, pretty much no one would describe living in or visiting senior living as fun. But I believe that could change. 

Caring: You’ve regularly written about your own personal experiences caring for aging loved ones and the numerous senior living community tours you’ve taken. What are the top 3 things you think a senior living community should do on every tour they give? 

Has your experience covering the industry helped your loved ones in their search for senior living? Are there things you think communities or organizations like Caring can do to help ensure any consumer can optimize their senior living search experience (that they don’t need the industry insider ‘leg up’ to be successful in their search)? 

Steve: I wish I had a better answer to this question but shopping for senior living is hard. Choosing to move a family member into senior living is life altering and very hard to roll back.  I wish senior living communities would spend a lot more time thinking about how to reduce the friction when it comes to learning about senior living.  A very simple one is putting pricing front and center on your websites.  

Here is what I wish Caring.com would do, maybe we can even work on this together.  There needs to be a series of very short tutorials for family members on what senior living is, how to make these decisions, and what to expect.  Maybe we do them with music and with comedy — I don’t know, but I think it would help people know what to do.  Or maybe we take some of your prospects and do some videos of them asking questions and then we answer them.   I have looked at what you have and I don’t know if it quite really hits the mark. What if your tutorials were the one place everyone had to go? I have so many ideas about this. 

(Caring Note: Thank you for this suggestion and others! We have some exciting updates coming to our website in 2023 — to further support the millions of people who access our senior living content during their search and selection process.)

Caring: When you think about our industry, what keeps you up at night? What most excites you and brings a smile to your daily work? What are you most passionate about, and find most meaningful in your senior living work?

Steve: What keeps me up at night: I talk to a lot of people who are terminally discouraged about senior living, but I am not one of them. While there is a lot still to be done, the industry is evolving and changing.  I see lots of small evidences of positive change nearly every day.   

My very public confession is that my passion is more for the front-line workers, many of whom would live on public assistance but choose to work in senior living instead.  More than any other time, they are making better money and having more of a voice.  

I find meaning every time I hear from a leader who is leading better because of some bit of content we have produced.  We get those messages nearly every day via email, private messenger, in the form of online comments. It means we are making a difference in the lives of people.  We are making the lives of those who live and work in senior living better.  

***

We appreciate Steve taking time to answer these questions, hosting the Senior Living Foresight platform for relevant and constructive industry discussions, and sharing about his passion for senior living.  

We’d love to hear from you too! Please comment on our LinkedIn post or email us to share your thoughts on any of the topics in this interview, or others you think are important for our industry to reflect upon. 

Best Senior Living: Caring Super Stars 2022

The Caring Super Stars of 2022 are senior living communities who have earned the Caring Stars reviews award for 2022 plus two or more additional years since this first-of-its-kind program launched in 2012. These are the repeatedly stellar senior living communities that seniors and their family members praise — year after year.

Caring Super Stars in Senior Living for 2022

ALABAMA — 1 community

ARIZONA — 2 communities

ARKANSAS — 2 communities

CALIFORNIA — 24 communities

DELAWARE — 1 community

FLORIDA — 11 communities

GEORGIA — 5 communities

IDAHO — 1 community

ILLINOIS — 4 communities

INDIANA — 3 communities

IOWA — 2 communities

MAINE — 1 community

MARYLAND — 1 community

MASSACHUSETTS — 6 communities

MICHIGAN — 7 communities

MISSOURI — 4 communities

NEVADA — 1 community

NEW HAMPSHIRE — 1 community

NEW JERSEY — 3 communities

NEW YORK — 2 communities

NORTH CAROLINA — 1 community

OHIO — 3 communities

OKLAHOMA — 2 communities

PENNSYLVANIA — 5 communities

SOUTH CAROLINA — 2 communities

SOUTH DAKOTA — 1 community

TENNESSEE — 3 communities

TEXAS — 12 communities

UTAH — 6 communities

VIRGINIA — 2 communities

WASHINGTON — 2 communities

WISCONSIN — 1 community

Congratulations to these 122 senior living communities across the United States!

***See the full list of Caring Stars of 2022.

Will You Be a Caring Star of 2022, and Stand Out for Greater Sales Success?

Are you familiar with Caring.com’s annual Caring Stars award program? It can help boost sales and marketing (as well as support staff recruiting and retention) for your senior living community or home care agency!

Launched in 2012 as the first of its kind in the senior living industry and now open to home care agencies as well, the Caring Stars award honors service excellence based on consumer ratings and reviews on Caring.com. Senior living communities and home care agencies achieve the “Caring Stars” award through lots of high praise in online reviews from their customers — older adults and family caregivers — and by responding to any critical feedback in negative (1-star and 2-star) reviews.

The Caring Stars award helps families narrow their choices to the best of the best, and quickly find the right senior care providers for their elderly loved ones. The integrity of our reviews program and the extensive vetting we do of the Caring Stars helps instill confidence for family caregivers and older adults in requesting more information about the agencies and taking a tour of the senior living communities. In fact, in our analysis of directory listings for our partners with the award vs. those without:

Caring Stars winners have averaged twice as many inquiries and 3x the move-ins as partners without the award

Every year, Caring Stars also generates positive content, media coverage, and social buzz — and boosts morale — for winning communities and agencies. Some Caring Star winners put the badge or winner widget on their websites, within e-newsletters, and in their billing statements, as ‘social proof’ of the high quality services they’re delivering. Caring Stars also frequently get featured in their local newspapers which helps raise awareness about their high quality services with more people in their area. Both the award and review excerpts make for good content on their social profiles as well. And the award gives senior living communities and home care agencies an opportunity to celebrate staff for a job well done, and build enthusiasm and pride in their workplace. Some communities even host a Caring Stars celebration with residents, and we at Caring.com enjoy visiting some of these resident parties as well.

More than 650 communities and agencies were recognized as Caring Stars 2021. Congratulations to each of these senior care providers for earning such accolades from their customers!

The deadline to qualify for Caring Stars 2022 is October 15, 2021.

There is no application for the award — it’s based on the reviews on your Caring.com listing. To be a Caring Star of 2022, we recommend you plan to meet or exceed the 2021 winner criteria. We also recently held a series of free webinars to help senior living communities and home care agencies better understand how to get and respond to reviews, and how to qualify for Caring Stars 2022:

Have questions? Please contact our reviews team at reviews@caring.com or (650) 762-8190.

***

SPECIAL NOTE ABOUT CARING POSTCARDS: We moved our postcard processing operations to Charlotte, North Carolina in 2019, and then sunsetted the reviews-by-postcard program in 2021 (blank card distribution ceased in March 2021, and the postage permit on return cards expires 9/30/21). We now offer a review call-in line. Contact reviews@caring.com for assistance in using this free service for partners only.

Editor’s note: This article is published each year with updated dates and info.

Best Home Care: Caring Super Stars 2021

The Caring Super Stars of 2021 for home care are agencies who have earned the Caring Stars reviews award for 2021 plus two or more additional years since this award program expanded to include home care agencies in 2017, after being the first-of-its-kind for senior living communities since 2012. These are the repeatedly stellar home care agencies that seniors and their family members praise — year after year.

Caring Super Stars in Home Care for 2021

ALABAMA — 3 agencies

ARIZONA — 8 agencies

ARKANSAS — 6 agencies

CALIFORNIA — 27 agencies

COLORADO — 5 agencies

CONNECTICUT — 4 agencies

FLORIDA — 25 agencies

GEORGIA — 4 agencies

IDAHO — 1 agency

ILLINOIS — 12 agencies

INDIANA — 3 agencies

IOWA — 2 agencies

KANSAS — 2 agencies

KENTUCKY — 1 agency

LOUISIANA — 2 agencies

MAINE — 1 agency

MARYLAND — 8 agencies

MASSACHUSETTS — 8 agencies

MICHIGAN — 13 agencies

MINNESOTA — 2 agencies

MISSISSIPPI — 2 agencies

MISSOURI — 7 agencies

MONTANA — 2 agencies

NEBRASKA — 1 agency

NEVADA — 2 agencies

NEW HAMPSHIRE — 1 agency

NEW JERSEY — 9 agencies

NEW MEXICO — 1 agency

NEW YORK — 13 agencies

NORTH CAROLINA — 7 agencies

NORTH DAKOTA — 1 agency

OHIO — 14 agencies

OKLAHOMA — 3 agencies

OREGON — 5 agencies

PENNSYLVANIA — 8 agencies

PUERTO RICO — 1 agency

SOUTH CAROLINA — 5 agencies

SOUTH DAKOTA — 1 agency

TENNESSEE — 6 agencies

TEXAS — 24 agencies

UTAH — 4 agencies

VIRGINIA — 7 agencies

WASHINGTON — 4 agencies

WISCONSIN — 6 agencies

Congratulations to these 271 home care agencies across the United States and in Puerto Rico!

***See the full list of Caring Stars of 2021.

Content Spark: Parkinson’s Awareness Month – Local Information & Support

April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month, a time to educate the public about the impact of this disease, raise funds for a cure, and increase focus on supporting those affected. Join the conversation, demonstrate your expertise, and attract new clients with original content on Parkinson’s care. Avoid getting lost in an abundance of similar coverage, though, by making your article(s) and social shares hyper-local and/or very specific to your senior care business.

Content Tips for Any Senior Care Company:

  • Highlight any specialization your team has in helping to care for Parkinson’s patients.

  • Interview a nearby neurologist or social worker about Parkinson’s disease — get their expert insights about how it impacts the lives of those it affects and learn their top tips for patients and family members.

  • Google “Parkinson’s” and the name of your city/state to find local resources to support those in your area. For instance, a Google search for “Parkinson’s San Mateo, CA” returns results for San Francisco Bay Area organizations focused on Parkinson’s disease, as well as local support groups. Find out what’s near you and include those resources in your coverage this month.

  • If your organization has participated in cany local “Moving Day” events in your area, write about those activities (including how much you helped raise for the cause) and share photos on your blog or social profile(s).

Content Tips for Senior Living Communities:

  • Caring for a resident with Parkinson’s disease? Consider sharing his/her story (with the resident and resident family member’s permission), and/or interview him or her for your community blog about life before and after the disease. Include how you’re supporting his/her quality of life.

  • Certain foods have been found to reduce Parkinson’s risk. Consider including those on your community’s menu this month and talking about that in your community e-newsletter or blog.

Content Tips for Home Care Agencies:

  • Profile stories of clients who live with Parkinson’s disease and share how you support them. Be sure to get permission from the client and/or client’s family members before doing so.

  • Sometimes doctors and family members miss the signs of Parkinson’s disease, or because symptoms can vary dramatically from patient to patient, it’s possible for an initial misdiagnosis. That’s unfortunate because getting an accurate diagnosis and treatment early can help slow the progression of the disease. In your content this month, talk about Parkinson’s risk and warning signs and how having your agency’s caregivers in the home regularly can help older adults and their families spot those concerns more quickly. And if your agency has inspired a family to get their loved one evaluated, diagnosed and treated, share that story — you may motivate others to take similar action.

Caring Resources to Support this Spark:

Additional Resources to Support this Spark:

Content Sparks are part of Caring.com’s Content Made Simple program. See all of the Content Sparks.

What is a Senior Care Review Worth?

As we previously discussed on our blog and in our Digital Marketing Academy webinars, senior care reviews online are playing a significant role in helping consumers find the best service providers for their loved ones.

Search engine-marketing agency BrightLocal reports that more than 90% of Internet users in the United States and Canada are reading reviews online during their product or service research. We've seen this level of engagement among senior care searchers as well: Consumers are clicking on business listings with senior care reviews and skipping those without them - whether they're on a search engine page of listing results or researching in an online directory.

Many family caregivers and older adults also tell us directly in periodic surveys that they find consumer reviews very useful to their research of senior care providers. The firsthand experience feedback in a senior care review provides insights about what current or former clients like (and dislike) about the senior living community or home care agency, and how the listed business may or may not meet their needs as a prospective client. Even those who get a referral from a doctor, hospital discharge planner, or social worker are still going online to find out what other consumers have said about that senior living community or home care agency - before picking up the phone to schedule a senior living community tour or in-home care assessment.

Given how much your target market is engaged with senior care reviews: You need to be actively monitoring and building your online reputation, as well as measuring the impact that reviews are having for your senior care business. We've helped some of our referral partners do this analysis through reviews in our online directory, and will share this data to help you measure the monetary value of an online review too.

Read the senior living case study.

Read the home care case study.

Reviews Best Practices: Responding to Negative Feedback

Contrary to some common misperceptions, the majority of online consumer reviews are not complaints, and instead are 4-star or 5-star positive reviews. In fact, on Caring.com, most consumer reviews in our senior living and senior care directories have positive ratings, and some studies have shown that the number one reason consumers write online reviews is altruism — to help others, not to slander a business.

So when you get the occasional negative review, then what to do? Even if you do everything right, the families and older adults you serve aren’t always happy, and sometimes there are other factors you can’t control that lead to grumpiness in online reviews.

How you respond to their critical feedback online may or may not change their perspective, but it can help persuade prospective residents who subsequently read the negative review(s) on your business listing. In fact, according to one survey by MarketingCharts.com and social marketing firm, Bazaarvoice: 7 in 10 survey respondents indicated that a brand’s response to an online consumer review changes their perception of the brand, most commonly by making them feel that the brand really cares about customers (41%), that it has great customer service (35%), and that it is trustworthy (22%).

Ignoring online reviews is not in your best interest.

Don’t be this guy.

In a Spring 2014 survey Caring.com conducted, we found that 67% of family caregivers and older adults are using online directories to find potential senior living communities and home care agencies, and relying on reviews to help narrow their choices. These firsthand testimonials provide insights into what current or former clients liked and disliked about the business, and how the listed business may or may not meet the prospective clients’ needs. Online reviews influence consumer confidence, and are far more trusted than advertising. When you ignore a negative review on your business listing, you allow the disgruntled former client to persuade your target customer at a ‘moment of truth’ — and that scenario is unlikely to work in your favor, especially if there are extremely critical falsehoods in the content of the review.

How to Monitor and Respond to Reviews of Your Business

Whether you use a third-party service or software, or have your in-house team track the feedback you get on the Internet, be vigilant about what people are saying about your business online and take strategic action to manage your reputation.

Learn the guidelines and procedures that each website has for responding to online reviews about your business. Contest or take action to remove a negative review if there are factual errors, and/or when you believe the review doesn’t meet the website’s review guidelines (and they erred in posting it). If there are no factual errors or guideline issues — and it’s simply negative opinion, explore your options for posting a response.

At Caring.com, we’ve seen dramatic increases in the “Provider Response” feature being used by senior living communities and home care agencies over the last couple of years. From 2012 to 2013, there was a 61% increase in the amount of provider responses posted in our senior living and senior care directories, and from 2013 to 2014, the volume more than tripled. These savvy providers are paying attention to what’s being said about their service offering, and taking the opportunity to post responses to both negative and positive reviews on their listings.

For assisted living and memory care communities listed on Caring.com: To earn the annual Caring Stars award, the stringent criteria require responding to negative reviews on your listing. You simply cannot qualify for a “service excellence” award if responding to critical feedback isn’t part of your service package.

Important to Note:

  • If you have an enhanced (paid) listing on Caring.com, you will receive automated alerts when new reviews are posted. Those review alerts will include convenient quick links to online forms where you can input information to contest a review or post a response.

  • For all listed businesses on Caring.com: Our team is available to address your review questions and post your responses via reviews@caring.com or our customer service Help Desk.

For Review Responses: Carefully Craft Your Message

It’s natural to be angry or offended when someone badmouths you online. But you better cool down before you respond to critical feedback – especially when you think the consumer’s opinion is unfair, wrong, or ill-intentioned. Remember, it’s the prospective client you are most influencing, and they may be more empathetic or receptive to the disgruntled former client and be more suspicious of you, especially if your words of the response reinforce any negative perceptions they may have about you.

Prospective clients know you’re not perfect, and they want to read both positive and negative reviews. In case they too have a problem or complaint at some point, they want to know they’ll be dealing with a reasonable person — not someone who goes ‘off the handle’ with negative feedback.

Tips:

  • Don’t go on the attack against reviewers

     

    over a difference of opinion or their word choice. For example, many consumers still use the term “nursing home” to apply to any senior living community with care services. If your community is not a skilled nursing facility, use the correct language for your service offering without berating the reviewer for their word choice mistake. Another common example: You may think your typically top-rated chef only makes the freshest, most delicious food. However, some reviewers may still call your community’s food terrible. That’s their opinion and they’re entitled to it — you have many options for how you respond to that person’s taste buds, and dismissing them through your words online shouldn’t be among the tactics you consider. A third, frequent example that comes up with negative reviews on Caring.com: Your opinion about the quality of phone service at your front desk or home care agency office may be radically different than the reviewer. Rather than argue that your sweet, mild-mannered receptionist is never rude, take the opportunity to thank the reviewer for their feedback, which you’ll take into consideration as you maintain delivery of excellence in all areas of your business.

  • Be very careful with your tone

     

    in any published response. Demonstrate that you’re open to hearing all feedback, and available to address concerns. Be an excellent communicator who handles challenges with grace and professionalism, isn’t argumentative, and is service oriented. Even if the person who reviewed you is totally out of line, it’s better to avoid being edgy, aggressive, arrogant, or rude. While a restaurateur may get some great press or accolades from such an approach, these styles don’t translate well in the senior care industry where you’re expected to be sensitive and kind in responding to complaints from those you serve.

  • Redirect the conversation to your customer service channels

     

    — provide your email, phone, Help Desk, etc. — where you can collect and share information about details of the complaint outside of the public eye, including sensitive information that shouldn’t be discussed online, such as information covered in HIPAA privacy law. If you encounter a less-optimized review website that is unlike Caring.com and does not allow you to include your phone number or email in a review response: use language to refer to ways your trained customer service team can be reached.

  • Avoid going tit for tat

     

    — resist the urge to debate the merits of every nit in the review. This approach will help you to avoid further damage to your online reputation, respect the privacy of the involved parties, and stay focused on positively influencing the prospective client.

  • Be authentic and conversational.

     

    Don’t sound like a robot. Your legal and PR staff may provide a “template” or text for you to use in all of your review responses, but if you overuse that approach, you can inadvertently come across as an insensitive, detached entity that doesn’t really care about hearing negative feedback or applying service changes to address concerns. When the same template response appears on every negative review, it can send a message that you’re not truly listening to the feedback of individual consumers, nor tailoring your response to meet individual needs. With this “same response to every negative review” approach, you can create a perception that your response is nothing more than a PR tactic, rather than true customer service.

  • Have empathy.

     

    Remember that family caregivers and older adults have a range of challenges that may be contributing to their negative words and tone toward your organization. It’s not an excuse for their behavior, but is a perspective that can help you craft a response demonstrating kindness and senior care expertise.

  • Be thankful for feedback.

     

    The reviewer took the time to alert you to their complaint, and now you have an opportunity to address it. Had they simply shared their opinions at an offline cocktail party, it would be out of earshot for your staff and you’d be left out of the conversation. With the online review, you have the ability to hear the message, reflect on the feedback, and respond as necessary.

In fact, consider approaching all negative reviews about your business with this question, “What can be learned from this feedback? Do we have opportunities here for improvement? How so?”

The answer may be as simple as: “Even though we did our best for that individual, we didn’t meet their needs/preferences, and we need to get more reviews from our happy clients to balance that online word-of-mouth.” Through Caring.com’s Digital Marketing Academy and monthly webcasts, we’ve covered our programs for generating senior care reviews, and will continue to cover that topic in upcoming posts on this blog too. In the meantime, please contact reviews@caring.com to learn more about how to get consumer reviews on your Caring.com listing.

How Senior Living Communities Get Reviews on Caring.com

Any senior living community listed on Caring.com can receive senior care reviews from their cognitively-healthy residents and residents’ family members. These consumer reviews can be positive, negative, or in-between, and are published (or removed) based on the Review Guidelines.

In our research and data, Caring.com has found that reviews can significantly boost prospective resident inquiries, community tours, and new resident move-ins for our senior living partner communities. And for our community partners who earn the coveted Caring Stars award for service excellence based on reviews: they average double the inquiries and three-times as many move-ins as our partners without the award!

Below are the ways your community can build its collection of great reviews on our site.

How Any Community Listed on Caring.com can Get Reviews:

  • Dedicated review submission form — Every listing in the Caring.com directory has a unique link for cognitively-healthy residents and their family members to submit their feedback about a senior living community’s eldercare services. This custom link is accessible for the senior living community to share with its customers via the “Write a Review” button near the top of the reviews section on the listing. Consumer reviews submitted via that online form are typically processed within three (3) business days, so it’s the fastest, easiest way for the agency to get new reviews, particularly with more older adults and their adult children online nowadays than ever before.

More Review Options for Caring's Partners:

  • Partner Portal reviews campaign(s) — We make it easy for our partners to send requests for reviews to their happy customers, with a step-by-step, simple-to-use review request wizard in Partner Portal. See how now.

  • Phone review program — We offer a toll-free phone number that residents and resident family members call to give their review by phone. Our review collection agents will guide callers through a brief, relevant interview to record quality reviews detailing the consumers' firsthand experiences with our partners' senior living or skilled nursing services. Contact our reviews team to get the phone number for your happy customers. Alternatively, senior living communities partnered with Caring.com can send us the names and telephone numbers (send to reviews@caring.com) of cognitively-healthy residents and their family members (with their explicit consent for sharing that info with Caring.com) and we’ll call them for their reviews. Note: This option can take longer than online submissions, given extra steps involved (from reaching the reviewer by phone, to transcribing the review from the recording phone call, as well as uploading and processing the review against the guidelines). It's a good option though for folks who aren't comfortable online yet.

How to Respond to the Reviews Your Community Receives:

  • All senior living communities with reviews on their Caring.com listing can publish a response - for both positive and negative reviews - and listed businesses also have the option to request removal of the review if there are fact errors or guidelines concerns.

  • Our partners will receive a New Review Alert emailed to their inbox the instant any new reviews are published on their listing. Those alerts include convenient quick links to publish a response or contest the review, and by using the alerts, the message reaches our highest priority processing queue. Updates for who on your team receives the alerts can be made in Partner Portal. (Please contact partnersuccess@caring.com if you need help with Partner Portal.)

Have questions about online reviews? Our reviews team can be reached by email or phone: reviews@caring.com or (650) 762-8190. We also have an entire section of this blog dedicated to information about the reviews program — please do check out the best practices and case studies we’ve showcased in the Reviews Info center.

Caring.com Acquires SeniorHousingNet.com

Caring.com today announced that we have acquired SeniorHousingNet.com, a senior living and 55+ lifestyle website formerly part of the realtor.com® network. The SeniorHousingNet.com acquisition expands Caring's core senior living directory and advertising offerings to include 55+ active adult communities and senior apartments.

Caring.com and SeniorHousingNet.com are instrumental tools in supporting consumers in their search for senior living and senior care. Caring’s team of highly trained, empathetic Family Advisors also provide information and senior living community suggestions by phone. All of these services are free of charge for seniors and caregivers, helping them research and select senior living options matched to their unique situations.

“For over a decade, we’ve provided a comprehensive range of senior care information for families caring for senior loved ones. We look forward to extending our expertise and support to more Baby Boomers, retirees, and active seniors seeking 55+ communities,” said Caring's CEO, Jim Rosenthal.

He added: “Acquiring SeniorHousingNet.com also enables us to expand digital marketing opportunities for our partner network of senior living communities and in-home care agencies, as well as SeniorHousingNet.com’s current advertisers.”

The SeniorHousingNet.com directory will now be powered by Caring.com, and Caring’s Partner Success and Engineering teams worked to ensure that the integration is seamless.

Read the full press release here.

Home Care Sales Success — Overview of Training Series for Caring Partners

Does your agency’s leadership, sales and marketing staff have a firm grasp on how to convert online leads into new clients? Are you tracking the performance and calculating the ROI of your digital marketing? How is your sales cadence for online leads the same or different than how you approach leads from other marketing channels? Do you regularly monitor and manage your online reputation in consumer reviews?

There are some very important trends in the home care industry to which you need to pay attention. Agencies who recognize and plan for these dramatic changes in the way we do business will prosper over the coming years. Those who try to cling to the past may not survive.

We’re speaking about some demographic changes that are already impacting the way our industry markets and sells our services. In the coming years, these changes will completely change the way we do business. This is because future consumers will select care for their parents much differently than how consumers have done so in the past.

The biggest reason is a shift in the normal behavior of those that are searching for care. We all know that the ultimate decisions to hire a home care agency are made up most often by the adult children of seniors, often an adult daughter. As the younger Baby Boomers have become the ones searching for care for their parents, they are displaying a different set of habits and approaches. Let’s face it, the adult daughters of today are very different than the adult daughters of a generation ago.

But if you think they are different now, just wait! They are going to be very different in the coming years as the Gen Xers and the Millennials start caring for their parents. The way we market to and sell these younger generations, people who have grown up using the Internet, will need to be totally different than how we have done it in the past.

In the past, successful agencies primarily spent time and money on developing relationships in their area with other professionals who work with seniors. These relationships generally took a lot of time and effort to develop. But once established, the referrals that resulted were practically clients, requiring very little skill and effort to convert them to active clients billing hours every week.

But now, many are going online and shopping for homecare before being referred, and even after being referred. Online leads are inexpensive and easy to acquire, but much tougher to sell. They require a very specific strategy; one that is very different than the strategy you use with professional referrals. Do you have both strategies in place in your agency? Or are you making the mistake of handling all leads the same?

In a new series of training videos for Caring’s home care agency partners, renowned sales trainer Peter Droubay takes you step-by-step through the keys to unlock home care sales success. Each video covers a specific, highly-relevant home care agency sales and marketing topic, and provides detailed insights and tips for helping your agency optimize its success with online leads.

Peter DroubayPeter has decades of sales and home care experience, was among the featured experts in the Home Care Pulse 2020 Growth Summit, and is sharing this new sales training free of charge to Caring partners. You’ll just need an access password to view the video, which can be provided to you by your agency’s account executive at Caring.com. (Contact sales_homecare@caring.com if you’re unsure of the contact info for your account rep. You can also contact that email to get signed up to access a partnership with Caring.)

Visit Video Training Series Now

Looking Back at Caring Stars Over the Years

When we launched the Caring Stars award program in 2012, it was the first award program of its kind to recognize assisted living and memory care communities based on consumer ratings and reviews. Online reviews (and social media) were still relatively new to our industry, and we had the largest collection of senior care reviews online. By using this extensive feedback to highlight the best communities, we envisioned that the program would both help family caregivers and older adults in their search and selection for assisted living or memory care, and provide insights to community operators about the senior living preferences of residents and their family members.

For the first five years of the program, the criteria stayed the same — we required a collection of recent and positive reviews, a high overall rating, and response to all negative reviews, for example — and only assisted living and memory care communities could qualify. For 2017, we're raising the criteria bar significantly and will expand the program to include independent living communities, non-medical home care agencies, care homes, and assisted living and memory care communities.

Before we head into this new territory, though, let's look back through the years and share some of the honoree highlights. As you'll see, previous years' Caring Stars have had twice as many inquiries and move-ins as partner listings without the award, achieved local media coverage, boosted staff morale, and differentiated from their competitors.

2012

We honored 120 communities in 24 states that first year. These Caring Stars of 2012 were promoted in our Caring Suggests newsletter (reaching hundreds of thousands of family caregivers and older adults nationwide), we featured them on our Facebook and Twitter profiles, and sent them certificates for their lobbies. The Caring Stars of 2012 were also included in media coverage on Senior Housing News and in local newspapers, like the Florida Times-Union / Jacksonville.com.

“This honor shows us that we are doing exactly what we set out to do with each of our communities: positively impact the lives of our residents, families and employees, every day." —The Carillon at Boulder Creek (2012)

2013

As more communities began learning about and prioritizing senior care reviews online, and as excitement for the new Caring Stars program built up, the winner list grew to 383 communities in 40 states in 2013! More winners began to showcase their award in their lobbies, on their websites, and in their local newspapers, including the Gwinnett Daily Post, The Dallas Morning News, The Florida Times-Union, Savannah Morning News, Sarasota Herald Tribune, The Orange County Register, and others. Broadmore Senior Living at York homepage. We started analyzing the reviews on winner listings to identity service trends, turning that into an article for consumers on our site: Top Assisted Living Trends What You Can Expect From a Great Assisted Living Community.

In 2013, we also published interviews with Caring Star community leaders, to give further insights to consumers about what makes these communities so special. Included in this series are: The Bristal at Lynbrook, American House Sterling Heights, Azalea Estates of Fayetteville, Broadmore at York, and Elmcroft of Arlington.

It was this year that the Caring Stars program was recognized in the National Mature Media Award category for Consumer PR campaigns.

“Our mission is to deliver high quality care for our residents, and this award helps demonstrate how well we’re delivering on that promise.” — Bradford Court Assisted Living (2013)

2014

In 2014, there were 400 senior living communities in 38 states who were recognized as Caring Stars, and our team began visiting some of the winner communities.

The Willows at Meadow Branch in Winchester, Virginia earned the award for the first time. There were only 10 winners in their state that year, and they were so thrilled to be honored. Their community is highly competitive with another local assisted living community, and they used the Caring Star award to differentiate themselves by showcasing the recognition in as many ways as possible. For example: they took the award badge and created staff lapels, ribbons, and outdoor banners, updated their information packets, and put the award on their billing statements to gently remind their customers about the high quality of their services.

At their press conference and award ceremony, they invited some of the folks who had posted reviews on their Caring.com listing to come share their testimony and join in the celebration. They also sponsor a local community event and transported their residents to it in vintage cars with Caring Stars window decals. They put the award badge on unique wine glasses, napkins and other decorative items to proudly display this distinction to the public. They were also successful in generating media coverage (including local radio spots), and even received a mayoral proclamation from the City of Winchester. In the weeks following the announcement, when I contacted their marketing director, she was very busy processing many new move-ins.

Another Caring Star of 2014 was Atria at Willow Glen. We visited one of their monthly resident meetings to present the award to their executive director and staff, and enjoyed refreshments with the residents. At that particular meeting, the executive director polled the residents about their social media use, and many hands went up when he asked if they were using Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. The event was covered in their local newspaper too.

To help all Caring Stars with their social promotions, we started offering some image "memes" they could use on their social profiles and websites — here's an example from the page of New Hope Valley Assisted Living & Memory Care Community. We posted them on our profile too.

Like prior years, the Caring Stars of 2014 were in the media spotlight, with coverage on Senior Housing News, The Tampa Tribune/The Sun, Ambler Gazette, Midland Daily News, The Pilot, and others.

“We would like to thank Caring.com for recognizing our community as a Caring Star based on the feedback from families about our services. Our residents are part of our extended family. We work daily to provide first-rate care for our residents, and this award helps validate our delivery on that promise.” — Sun Towers Retirement Community (2014)

2015

In 2015, the honoree list doubled to 805 assisted living and memory care communities in 43 states.

That year, we unveiled a new top-tier or elite honoree group: the Caring Super Stars, which is communities that have earned the award in the present year and two other years (for a total of 3 or more years as a Caring Star). Like we had done in prior years for the Caring Stars, we had a senior care expert take a look at reviews on the Caring Super Star listings to identify trends among the "best of the best" in assisted living and memory care, turning that into an article for consumers on our site. The Caring Super Stars of 2015 were also featured at our booth at the annual Argentum (formerly ALFA) conference, where we too earned an award for digital marketing.

Brookdale at Fremont was among the winners in 2015, and they held a party for residents, residents' family members, and staff to celebrate. They were only one of four winners in their county that year, and were featured in their local newspaper as well as on the national website Senior Housing Forum, after taking Steve Moran on a tour.

Homestead Hills websiteMany winning communities incorporated the badge into their Facebook or website pages, and we particularly loved the photos we saw of residents and staff celebrating, such as this pic on Facebook from Robbinswood Assisted Living in Grand Haven, Michigan or this pic on Twitter from Shelby Crossing Health Campus in Shelby Township, Michigan. Some communities posted photos of their lobby certificates, such as Lorien Health System's Harmony Hall, Somerby of Mount Pleasant, and the The Terraces of Roseville.

It was another great year for media coverage as well, with clips on: Senior Housing News, Providence Business News, KCBD NBC 11, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, The Oklahoman, WIOD-AM 610, BizTimes Milwaukee, the Santa Cruz Sentinel, WOBM 92.7FM, the Westford Eagle, The Clarion-Ledger, The Times — Northwest Indiana, Paso Robles Daily News, The Aging Experience, The Island Now, and more.

“We are honored that Comfort Senior Care Home has earned this recognition, and thank the families who shared their feedback in reviews on Caring.com.” — Comfort Senior Care Home (2015)

2016

We announced the Caring Stars of 2016 at the annual SMASH sales and marketing conference, with a list of 787 communities in 44 states. For the first time, we revealed publicly some of our data about the impact of being a Caring Star. Specifically, after analyzing winner listings over a two-year period and comparing them to referral listings without the award, we found that on average Caring Stars get twice as many consumer inquiries and move-ins!

That drummed up media buzz and attention for Caring Stars winners again, with coverage on: Senior Housing Forum, the Long Island Herald, Redlands Daily Facts, TBNweekly.com, , ValpoLife.com, The Osprey Observer, Berks-Mont News, The Edmond Sun, , The Courant, and more.

We also celebrated the award this year with the residents and staff of Merrill Gardens at Campbell. There was a piano performance, dancing, a champagne toast and much merriment in honoring this community, which is a two-time Caring Stars winner and close to becoming a Caring Super Star in the future.

The social promotions and website postings continued this year as well. Pacifica Senior Living put the badge on each of its winning communities' web pages (such as Newforest Estates), and winners linked the badge to their listings to help consumers understand the award and read the reviews. Holiday Retirement issued a press release that they published on their website. Belmont Village Senior Living and Enlivant spread the word on LinkedIn, and the memes shined brightly on Facebook pages of Bella Vista Memory Care, The Hearth, and many others. The Carriage House team with their certificate Sunshine Retirement featured their smiling staff in a post on Facebook about The Carriage House at The Verandah at Graywood, and posted a press release as well.

We've truly enjoyed watching this award program grow in popularity over the years, and make such a difference for family caregivers, older adults, and the senior living communities listed on Caring.com. We're looking forward to continuing this program in the years to come, with the exciting changes ahead for the 2017 award. Subscribe to this blog to get alerted when we announce new Caring Stars and Caring Super Stars each year (see right column, "Get Updates" field)

Think your senior living community or home care agency should be among those honored? Get in touch with our team ASAP to learn more about how to qualify, and visit our Caring Stars info center as well.

***See also: Caring Stars 2017: Senior Living Communities in the Spotlight

A “Trusted” Partnership for Home Care Agency Growth

Trusted Family Homecare provides “professional, affordable, and caring in home living assistance for seniors in the Ventura County and Los Angeles County area,” and has been receiving great reviews for the services they provide. And that’s by design: Owner Daniel Thom started the agency after personal experience with in-home caregivers for his aunt, who had ALS/Lou Gehrig’s disease. He wanted to make sure other families in the area had a good choice for their in-home care needs.

“Some of my aunt’s caregivers were good, and some weren’t – it was the ones who were bad who particularly struck a chord,” he says. “I didn’t want other families to have a similar experience that we did with her caregivers. I wanted to provide an agency that families could rely on for consistent quality care, and that would help them understand important information like knowing how to pay for home care, such as through veteran’s Aid & Attendance pension benefits. We didn’t learn about that stuff until after the fact, and it would have been helpful to know it while she was still receiving care.”

While Daniel had the best of intentions and true empathy for the experience of family caregivers, in the early years of his agency, he was managing the agency/business while also working a full-time (9 to 5) job. He didn’t have any spare time to spend marketing the agency on his own, but did want to grow the business as quickly as possible. So, he hired a consulting firm who educated him on the industry and recommended specific marketing strategies for growth, with Caring.com among the recommendations made.

Thus, Trusted Family Homecare began its partnership with Caring.com in 2015, and started with a small volume of leads, “only what I could handle,” Daniel says. “The 9 to 5 really hindered me in getting more clients. I had to walk away to make a phone call, could only do meetings at certain times, and was a 1-man band. I could only do so much. Even if I had more money to buy more leads, I wouldn’t have been able to service those individuals, so we had to really closely manage the amount of leads coming in.”

To do so, Daniel worked with a Caring.com home care account executive to progressively increase Trusted Family Homecare’s referral volume from Caring.com and grow the agency. The agency went from getting a handful of leads per month in 2015 and 2016, to increasing their lead cap to dozens of referrals per month in 2017. The partnership has been so successful that this year Daniel was able to quit his day job and focus fully on the home care agency, nearly tripling his lead cap with Caring.com from November 2017 to March 2018.

“Working with Caring.com has been great,” says Daniel. “I’m able to connect with my Caring account executive on a regular basis. He returns my calls and emails, and answers all of my questions. And he’s worked with me on multiple occasions to make sure our account had a lead volume matched to what I could afford, as well as what I could fulfill on given our staffing and availability. It’s definitely been a positive experience.”

Another reason Daniel’s been able to progressively increase the lead volume for his agency is because he’s doing an excellent job in converting the referrals he receives – often closing 10-13% of the leads.

“I call the referral right away. Wherever I am, whatever I’m doing, I stop and make the phone call within 30 seconds of getting that referral alert – unless of course, I’m already on the phone,” he says. “In fact, I just landed a new client from a Caring.com referral yesterday. The lead came through Tuesday night. Wednesday morning, I met with the client and had a caregiver set up. We started care for them Wednesday night.”

Caring.com isn’t the only referral source that Daniel is using to grow Trusted Family Homecare, but it is where he’s getting the largest volume of leads.

“We are absolutely getting good service from Caring.com,” he says, “and now that I have more time to focus on the agency, why not continue to grow through what’s worked before: continuing to increase our opportunity through Caring.com!”

With Caring’s Help, An Adult Daughter Helps Her Father Move to Assisted Living

Dianne D.’s 90-year-old father, Enrique was living with family members when he and they decided it would be better for him to be in an assisted living community. Dianne turned to the Internet to research senior living options in the Los Angeles, CA area, and found her way to Caring.com where she asked for more information about local communities, and how to pay for assisted living.

Enrique doesn’t have any pets, he likes to play cards and watch TV, he doesn’t have a need for memory care and he isn’t a diabetic. But he does use a walker and needs help with activities of daily living (ADLs), including bathing, as well as transportation. Dianne wondered which communities had accommodations and amenities best matched to him and their budget.

Dianne wanted to tour possible senior living communities within two weeks of her call to Caring, and through our referral network, we were able to immediately accommodate her in setting up a tour at a community that seemed matched to her father’s needs and preferences, and the family’s budget as well. That initial call of 22 minutes talking to a Caring.com family advisor was well spent time and effort, as Dianne and Enrique have now found a new assisted living home where he can be comfortable and happy.

“Thank you so much…you make life so much easier at such a difficult time,” she recently said to our staff.

Earlier this month, we took our support of this family caregiver even further by picking up the tab for one month’s rent at the assisted living community Enrique moved into. Dianne had entered our monthly move-in drawing (held among those using our senior housing referral services), and she was randomly selected as the recipient for October 2017’s drawing.

Show your support: give a like for Dianne and her father on our Facebook page (or for Twitter users: perhaps a retweet from our feed). Thanks!

Better Than the Rest: Why A Residential Care Home Owner is Keeping Caring a Secret from Competitors

Allyn P. currently owns a couple of residential care homes in the Western United States and is in process of buying more. He doesn’t want us to be more specific, because he’s had so much success with his Caring.com partnership that he wants to keep us a secret.

“As soon as I signed up one of my residential care homes, I think within 72 hours, I had a total of 7 very qualified leads! And within 48 hours of signing up, I had my first move-in from the second lead I received from Caring.com. It was pretty shocking actually,” Allyn P. said. “At that point, I didn’t want any of my local competitors to know about Caring.com.”

Before upgrading his first residential care home listing on Caring.com, he’d tried a few other marketing channels, including advertising on a very popular search engine, advertising on a very popular reviews website, and working with offline local referral agents. He thought online directories and Internet referral agencies had a fee structure that wasn’t really in line with the budgets of residential care homes, so he explored other options.

“None of them worked, especially for the money I was spending,” he said, “And, to be honest, I wasn’t sure about Caring's site either at the start. I was extremely skeptical, but that feeling shifted to ‘Wow, this is a real thing!’ rather quick. I dropped the others, because Caring.com was supplying me a steady flow of qualified leads, resulting in more move-ins!”

One big reason that Allyn P. has been so successful with his residential care home listings on Caring.com is because he’s taken advantage of the review collection services in the partner package, including leveraging Caring’s reviews-by-phone service that wasn’t available with any other lead generating businesses. In fact, despite his second residential care home being fully occupied, he still upgraded his second listing to the partnership package anyway, just for the reviews program that Caring.com offers. (Even though the second home was full, he was able to offer prospective residents a place on the waiting list, or offered them a tour of his other residential care home nearby with vacancy).

He states, “It was absolutely worth it to upgrade my second home’s listing just to take advantage of Caring.com's review collection program. I absolutely believe the industry’s business owners are missing the fact that their online reputation is essential to growth and keeping their facilities full. Families are absolutely reading reviews and they need to be current and extensive to be effective.”

His focus on reviews has paid off: the first residential care home (starting in mid-2020) rapidly went from zero to 10 reviews and earned the Caring Stars 2021 award. He continues to focus and build his reviews in 2021, and has added 2 more reviews for a total of 12. His second residential care home is off to a great start in 2021, too, with 4 reviews and more on the way. His goal is to get each of his residential care homes to earn the Caring Stars 2022 award.

Senior living searchers seek out online reviews in their research and selection process. Reviews help Caring.com partners elevate in the directory rankings, and attract more potential residents and their family members to the listings. Allyn P. has seen this effect with both his residential care home listings — they’ve had about 1,000 pageviews in a short period of time (in months rather than years).

“Online reviews are huge for credibility for bringing people to your door,” he said. “People will call you when you have great online reviews, that they believe.”

He continued, “We have reviews on other sites that are 5-stars, but are older and just contain a few words. This is not really helpful to prospective families and they don’t believe them anyway. I’m always directing our residents/residents’ families to the reviews on Caring.com because they’re lengthy, current and believable. Caring’s collection of reviews-by-phone has made a HUGE difference to my businesses.”

He has also done an excellent job converting Caring’s referrals into customers too. Within 6 months, he achieved seven (7) move-ins just for one residential care home — realizing a high conversion rate from the leads he received.

“You have to work the lead as soon as you get the lead. You can’t let it go 2-3 days,” he says. “I have discovered that the first, second or third in, one of them wins, because the families are generally in a hurry to find a place. They don’t have the time or desire to go tour many different facilities, or they just get overwhelmed. We’re not the only residential care home or assisted living community calling them, and we have to compete by being fast in responding and booking them for a tour.”

His sales activity doesn’t stop there though. “You gotta follow up. Fortunes are made in the follow-up. Initially: call, text, or email them until you actually get ahold of them, and then decide if necessary, how to follow up later,” he suggests. “I will even contact them a month later, two or three months later, because some families are researching two to six months out from when they need your service, and you need to work with their timing and keep in contact with them as a great potential fit for their needs.”

As Allyn P. so eloquently sums it up: “We provide excellent service, safe, beautiful homes, and now 5-star reviews to prove it. With Caring.com, I have an edge on the competition and I definitely have selfish motives for keeping Caring.com a secret.”

***Results can vary by account and location. Please contact an account executive to learn more about the opportunities for your area: sales@caring.com or (855) 897-2433.

“Much Needed Encouragement & Support” — How Caring.com Helped a Spousal Caregiver Find a Memory Care Community

“Are there any questions I need to ask that I may not have thought of? I’ve never done this kind of thing before, and feel kinda lost right now.”

This is a common concern that spouses and family members have when they are thrust into the role of “family caregiver” and need support while navigating their options. We know this not only from serving 3 million family caregivers (and older adults) each month — we were in fact founded as a result of an adult son feeling these things in trying to care for his ailing mother long distance. He couldn’t find senior care information readily online to help him through each caregiving challenge he faced — and through Caring.com he aimed to fix that for other family caregivers in similar situations.

One such person that’s been helped by Caring.com is spousal caregiver, Phillippa L. in Colorado. When she realized her husband needed more care than she could provide (while also juggling a job outside the home), she reached out to Caring.com for help.

She talked to Jamie (a Caring.com family advisor) in depth about their situation, budget, and preferences: Phillippa’s husband liked to accompany her in the garden, and document daily in a journal to help him remember. He liked to walk and do puzzles, but struggles with hearing and isn’t good about wearing his hearing aid. He needed help with medication management, activities of daily living, and quality, dignified, professional care.

Family advisor Jamie actively listened to Phillippa, and then suggested some best-matched communities. From those, Phillippa chose the communities she wanted to tour, and Jamie helped set up those appointments. Closer to the tour dates, we reminded Phillippa about the locations and timing, and helped make the process of touring senior living communities as smooth as possible, providing information and guidance as needed.

After completing her tours, Phillippa ultimately chose a memory care community for her husband that had a lovely view and enclosed yard. There was also positive feedback in reviews about this community on Caring.com, and she felt she’d made the right choice with Caring’s help.

“I have been telling everyone how great Caring.com is,” she said. “Jamie was truly wonderful. She was always there for me, answered all my silly questions, and provided some much-needed encouragement and support.”

We love hearing feedback like this after helping families find senior living for loved ones. This is what we were founded for, and is truly an example of how we deliver on our social mission: equipping family caregivers to make better decisions, save time and money, and feel less alone — and less stressed — as they face the many challenges of caregiving.

And in this case, we took our family caregiver support even further by picking up the tab for one month’s rent at the memory care community Phillippa chose for her spouse. Phillippa had entered our monthly move-in drawing (held among those using our senior housing referral services), and she was randomly selected as the recipient in September 2017.

This is not the end of Phillippa’s spousal caregiver story, just the next chapter, and in Caring.com, she has a senior care support resource she can turn to as needed in caring for her husband.

Show your support: give a like for Phillippa and her husband on our Facebook page (or for Twitter users: perhaps a retweet from our feed). Thanks!

Content Spark: End-of-Life Estate Planning

Only 32.9% of U.S. adults have a will — or put another way: 2 out of 3 adults don’t have a will in the event of their death, according to new research from Caring.com. Too many Baby Boomers are included among those who haven’t created this critical aspect of estate planning, and even some in the “Silent Generation” (age 72+) don’t have a will either. Your senior care organization can help these individuals get over their inertia and better plan the distribution of their assets at death to avoid probate and other complicated and unnecessarily stressful burdens on their survivors.

Content Tips for Any Senior Care Company

  • Educate your audience about the consequences of not having a will. If you know individuals wiling to share their personal stories of what happened when a loved one didn’t have a will, that could help bring the information to life and compel your readers. It makes the subject relatable and they may be more likely to take action.

  • Interview a local elder law attorney, financial planner or other end-of-life and estate planning expert to include their insights and tips. You may even find a local expert who is nationally renowned, like Michael and Mark Gilfix and other attorneys at Gilfix & La Poll in Palo Alto, CA.

  • Discuss the statistics that illustrate why living wills are necessary and beneficial. Your content this month can also include any information relevant to your state, such as the fact that California combines the living will and medical power of attorney into a single form called an advance health care directive, and requires that document to be signed in front of two witnesses or a notary.

Content Tips for Senior Living Communities

  • Consider hosting a local expert for a guest presentation about estate planning at your senior living community. If you have the space for it: you might even open up the event to other older adults in your town — to both be helpful to their needs and so they can get to know your senior living community and the benefits of living there.

Content Tips for Home Care Agencies

  • Consider compiling a list of elder law attorneys and financial planners in your community in a one-pager you can share with your client and their family members.

Caring Resources to Support this Spark

Additional Resources to Support this Spark

Content Sparks are part of Caring.com’s Content Made Simple program. See all of the Content Sparks.

This Content Spark was originally created Feb 3, 2017, and updated 4/29/21.

Content Spark: Love in the Later Years

With Valentine’s Day on February 14th, love is a top-of-mind topic this month. And there’s plenty of opportunity for your senior care organization to include older adults in the focus: whether discussing romance later in life and celebrating couples’ special anniversaries, or passing on ‘love wisdom’ from seniors to the youth and sharing stories of familial love and friendship.

As Valerie Johnston of Healthline points out: love is even better in old age and seniors can show the rest of us how it should be done!

Content Tips for Any Senior Care Company

  • Personal stories, visuals, and quotes are key ingredients for your ‘love’ content this month. Making an emotional connection with your audience is particularly important with this topic — inspire an “awwww!!!” reaction and your content has a great chance of being shared. Tell a heartwarming story with a beautiful photo or video and you may even ‘go viral’; in fact, many love stories, videos, and quote/photo ‘memes’ do get a lot of social sharing engagement.Remember 96-year-old Fred Stobaugh and his video-recorded song, “Oh Sweet Lorraine” for his late wife in 2013? That video was viewed over seven million times on YouTube, and he remained popular in social media up to his recent passing. This viral hit had the life-long ‘true love’ story conveyed by an organization helping the senior; included quotes from and interview footage with Fred, as well as images of Fred and Lorraine over the years; and evoked emotions in millions of people (many of whom shed some tears too).

  • Consider a list or compilation approach — it could be a list of ‘seniors top 5 tips for keeping romance alive’ or ’10 of our favorite movies about love in the later years’ or a list of 5 quotes that are very relevant to seniors and love. Or maybe it’s the ‘5 best gifts for your senior Valentine’. Eskaton senior living chose “5 Benefits of Love & Chocolate” for their list.

  • Make it local — whether covering ‘the top 5 date spots or activities for mature couples in Cincinnati’ or by interviewing a matchmaker or relationship expert in your community to get his/her tips for dating in your later years of life (this U.S. News & World Report article even included advice from family attorneys on this topic!).

  • On the riskier or more complicated side of love is the sub-topic of sex and seniors: Baby Boomers don’t really want to think about or read about the possibility of their parents still having sex at this age, and some seniors may blush at the mention as well. However, STD transmission among older adults is unfortunately a common and growing problem, says eldercare expert Derrick Y. McDaniel, while citing some related statistics on Huffington Post. So, this may be an opportunity for education among those who need to know and need to take action accordingly — but you’ll need to be prepared to manage any negative or ‘raised eyebrow’ feedback you can get with such content. This is particularly true when covering the often-sad subject of love and sex for couples where one of the spouses has Alzheimer’s (or the somewhat taboo topic of ‘well spouse affairs’).

Content Tips for Senior Living Communities

  • Are there couples at your community who have been married for more than three decades, like Mira and Bob Graves at Quail Lodge Retirement Community had been in 2014 press coverage of their love story? Their story was virally shared on Facebook more than 500 times in the first 24 hours after Sunshine Retirement Living had posted the story. It was a heartwarming story with a lovely photo, and touched thousands of people online. Do you have a resident couple with a similar story (or two) to share at your senior living community?

  • Have any residents met and fallen in love after moving into your community? That’s another wonderful story you could feature this month, with the residents’ permissions and participation of course.

Content Tips for Home Care Agencies

  • However you cover this topic, be sure to mention that in-home care is a great source of companionship and joy for seniors living alone — without making an obvious “buy now” pitch (be genuinely caring and helpful in your tone and content).

Resources to Support this Spark

  • Love What Matters — a website and social programming (Facebook & Instagram) that highlights “moments that matter” and the various forms that love takes, through the personal stories of real people

  • Love for the Elderly — a nonprofit (started by a high school student in 2013) focused on “bringing joy into the lives of the elderly” through handwritten letters, care packages, and other ‘social impact’ programs

Content Sparks are part of Caring.com’s Content Made Simple program. See all of the Content Sparks.

Content Spark: Heart Health and Senior Care

February is American Heart Month, an observance to raise awareness about heart disease and how it can be prevented — both at home and in the community. According to The American Heart Association, heart disease is the leading cause of death of women and men in the United States — with 1 in 4 deaths caused by heart disease.

And 80% of people who die of coronary heart disease are age 65 or older. Given how pervasive this concern is among those senior care organizations serve, it’s an excellent topic for your content this month.

Content Tips for Any Senior Care Company

  • Discuss the facts associated with heart disease, including identifying different cardiovascular diseases (coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, etc.), early warning signs of heart disease, ways to prevent it, and what to do post diagnosis.

  • Motivate and excite your audience about heart health — give simple, practical actions they can take to prevent heart disease or to slow the progression of heart failure.

  • Consider covering this story from a medication management angle. Family caregivers often help their aging parents with medication management and your content can provide helpful guidance to them. Interview an expert (cardiologist, geriatrician, and/or pharmacist) to get their recommendations for individuals who are taking cholesterol-modifying medications, beta blockers, nitroglycerin, and ACE inhibitors and ARBs — such as side effects and tips to avoid them, as well as reminders about mixing these drugs with others. Or maybe do a product review article on common blood pressure monitors — having your residents as the product testers giving the feedback.

Content Tips for Senior Living Communities

  • Some foods and drinks are suggested for promoting heart health. Consider highlighting those in your dining menu this month, and/or share a related recipe on your blog or social profiles (particularly Facebook and Pinterest).

  • Regular physical activity helps prevent heart disease. While any heart patient should consult his/her physician before beginning an exercise program, you can still highlight the exercise classes or activities your community offers and encourage participation to support your residents’ heart health.

Content Tips for Home Care Agencies

  • Are your caregivers trained to look for the early warning signs of heart disease, and/or providing meal preparation services that include helping the senior with heart healthy nutrition? If so, highlight that expertise this month.

  • For home health agencies: Include in your content how your staff help older adults with their heart disease treatment and/or heart health regimens.

Resources to Support this Spark

Content Sparks are part of Caring.com’s Content Made Simple program. See all of the Content Sparks.

Content Spark: Senior Care Resolutions for the New Year

With the new year, there’s renewed opportunity for setting goals and making this year even better than the last one. Folks commonly aim to be healthier (such as “lose weight” or “exercise more”), do more in their lives, see more of the world they live in, and otherwise have a more full-filled life. This month your senior care organization’s content can take this theme of “resolutions” and make it very relevant for older adults and family caregivers in your area — including how your senior care organization can play a role in supporting them in their keeping their resolutions.

Content Tips for Any Senior Care Company

  • You can create a blog post, newsletter article, or social media update with some resolutions for older adults or for family caregivers or for both. You could compile these from various expert sources (such as using the suggestions in the resource links below), or you could source them directly from the seniors and family members you already serve (what’s on their list this year?).

  • Help those you serve with keeping their resolutions. Create a list of supportive resources, tools, products and services that make it much easier on them to be healthier, exercise more, sleep more, relax more, travel more, etc. You might even make this a weekly series, with a theme each week (such as “how to keep exercise resolutions” in week 1, “10 low-cost local adventures for seniors” in week 2, and “5 ways to eat healthier this year” in week 3, etc.).

  • Interview a geriatric care manager, social worker, and/or geriatric psychologist to compile their perspectives about older adults and resolutions, including their tips for helping older adults who want to make and keep resolutions.

  • Consider your senior care organization’s “resolutions” for the new year. This could be new things you’re going to try this year in your senior care business (and how you’ll go about achieving those goals), or it could be a way to discuss your organization’s existing mission and the ways you’re going to focus and deliver on those promises this year.

Content Tips for Senior Living Communities

  • Consider doing this year-long activity with your residents: create a “kindness jar”, “good things jar” or “resolutions jar.” Get a large jar (or fish bowl) and start filling it with at least one positive or good thing that happens each week, or one or two accomplishments from each week or month. Then open that container on New Year’s Eve at the end of the year and read all of those notes of goodness as a way to cap off the year, and remember just how much was achieved and appreciated that year — whether among the initial resolutions or not. Or consider other New Years Resolutions activities you can do with your residents to mark the occasion and hit on the theme in a fun way.

  • Have any new exercise classes or healthy menu items? Share that news with the angle of helping your residents meet their new year resolutions. Or do a reminder feature on the existing exercise and healthy eating options you offer in your senior living community.

Content Tips for Home Care Agencies

  • Your agency can play a big role in helping family caregivers with their resolution for more self care. In fact, January is also “Self-Love Month” so you might consider doing coverage focused on family caregiver respite and well being through more self care.

  • How do you help your older adult clients with their new year resolutions? Are your in-home caregivers helping to prepare healthy meals? Taking your clients on safe walks? Helping to clear away clutter and keep the house cleaner? Consider compiling a list of ways you help older adults with their resolutions and include anecdotes, stories and/or quotes from real people you’ve helped.

Caring Resource to Support this Spark

Additional Resources to Support this Spark

  • Find out what local resources are in your community to help seniors in your care be more active and/or exercise more. For example, does your city’s recreation office offer Zumba for seniors, like the City of Sacramento offers for its older residents? Is there walking club for seniors, like Walking Buddies in Walnut Creek, CA? Or, focus on the “healthy eating” resolution and find local organizations helping seniors with that resolution. Use search engines using your city/state and the specific resolution you’re focusing upon (such as “Denver, Colorado senior walking clubs” or “Detroit Michigan senior zumba” etc.).

Content Sparks are part of Caring.com’s Content Made Simple program. See all of the Content Sparks.

Content Spark: Home for the Holidays — January Spike for Senior Care Search

It’s the ‘holly jolly’ winter holiday season, and with it: several opportunities for your senior care organization to share valuable information and resources with older adults and their adult children. Whether it’s a checklist of things to look for while visiting aging parents’ homes, or gift guides, or helping them find you in January after realizing an elder loved one needs more care than previously thought, there are so many topics for you to cover this month to meet the needs of your current clients and attract new ones.

Content Tips for Any Senior Care Company

  • Pick 1-3 holiday related topics for your blog article(s), and find a local angle. Unless you’re a major publisher who’s been covering “Home for the Holidays” for years and already ranks on search engines for this subject, it will be hard for your content to be found. But search engines are where many of your prospective clients will head first to find senior care information — so if you want to rank for holiday-related topics, use local angles for any of your “Home for the Holidays” coverage in December or January. Examples of how to take the general topic and ‘localize’ it: “Visiting Aging Parents in Chicago for the Holidays? 5 Things to Look For in Their Home” or “Our Favorite Gifts for Chicago Seniors” or “What To Do in Chicago for the Holidays — Making the Most of Season with Your Senior Relatives.”

  • Contact local journalists and make them aware of your expert(s) and/or tips for adult children visiting elder loved ones in the area this holiday season. If they’re already covering the “Home for the Holidays” topic, they’ll need experts to quote — and that can be a great way to raise awareness about your senior care organization with folks who may not yet know about your services. And if the media outlet wasn’t already aware of the spike in senior care searches in January (post-holiday visits with elder relatives), you can help provide them with content valuable to their readers or viewers. Consider a “Letter to the Editor” for your local newspaper, or sending the story as a tip to your local TV station.

  • To build deeper, stronger relationships with your existing clients: rather than focusing on identifying increased senior care needs or finding the best senior care services, you can instead cover topics that will help them optimize the holiday season. It could be helping them have great family visits (at home or in a senior living community), understanding and facing the unique challenges of celebrating the holidays with loved ones living with dementia, or supporting families facing or experiencing grief this season.

  • If ‘January has come early’ and you’re already feeling the rush of senior care searches around the holidays — and thus don’t have time to create original content this month: curate a ’round up’ or list of links to your favorite holiday related articles from other knowledgeable organizations, including both local organizations (such as the nearby chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association) or national senior care publishers (like the National Alliance for Caregiving, Caring.com or AARP) with trustworthy, well-vetted tips that will help those you serve and attract new customers to your senior care organization as well.

  • Make sure your business profiles — on both social networks and online directories — have the most accurate and compelling information about your organization. Be sure your services are described well (not so rich with industry jargon that a newbie doesn’t understand what you do). Your profiles should have excellent photos and/or videos, as well as reviews — if you don’t already have some on your profiles, get them ASAP to attract and persuade prospective clients. And include the best way to reach your organization — so that when those adult children go online to find help, they also know how to contact you.

Content Tips for Senior Living Communities

  • Have a move-in special this month or in January? Make sure your referral partners — and prospects already in your pipeline — know about it! Make it easy to find on your social media profiles, website, and in your e-newsletter too.

  • Hosting any holiday events or activities that will be open to the public (such as a tree lighting, caroling, or movie screenings, etc.)? Be sure it gets added to the online event calendars for your area and is sent to the events section of your local newspaper.

  • While your community’s holiday events do present lots of “photo ops,” make sure that your staff are aware of your photography and social media policies, that your community has all waivers on file (and up to date), and that you respect the dignity and privacy of your residents — this is particularly important for memory care communities.

Content Tips for Home Care Agencies

  • Does your agency have any special stories of staff going above and beyond to help seniors aging in place (and possibly alone) this holiday season? For example, Barbra “BJ” Corn of Silver Angels in Monterey, Tennessee provided a 70-year-old mentally challenged client with her first-ever Christmas celebration, including a tree with gifts, home decorations, a special breakfast and dinner, introduction to neighbors in her housing complex, and indescribable joy at a time when she may have otherwise been alone and overlooked. They shared this story on Caring.com, earning Barbra a national award (with cash bonus) and related PR in local media. If your agency has similar heartwarming stories, consider getting their (and as needed adult children’s) permission to share the story on your blog or with local reporters — it’s a great way to recognize the professional caregiver for a job well done, reinforce the value you’re adding for that senior’s life, and demonstrate the high quality in-home care your agency provides to others not yet using your services.

Caring Resources to Support this Spark

Additional Resources to Support this Spark

  • Contact your city’s Parks & Recreation Department and find out what senior-friendly events they have scheduled this time of year. Include that any “Holiday To Do” coverage you do on your blog or social media profiles.

  • If you focus on holidays with seniors who have a certain condition — such as Alzheimer’s or cancer — find local nonprofits or organizations focused on those conditions, and partner with them on content, either by including their tips and events in your blog posts and social posts, or vice versa, joining the conversations on their blogs, websites, and social profiles.

Content Sparks are part of Caring.com’s Content Made Simple program. See all of the Content Sparks.

Content Spark: Helping a Senior Move or Downsize

Around this time of year, it’s not uncommon to discover that elder loved ones need to reconsider their living situations — whether to reduce clutter for decreasing fall risks, overcome years of hoarding, or to move and downsize based on increased senior care needs. Your organization can help guide older adults and their loved ones through the various aspects of this process — from how to make the difficult downsizing decisions in the first place and assisting with the practicalities of these changes, to optimizing the move and adjustment.

Content Tips for Any Senior Care Company

  • Help family caregivers and older adults identify signs that it’s time to downsize or consider a move. Give them reasons it’s important to periodically assess the elder’s living space (such as fall risks, mold and dust, maintenance, and even clues that the elder needs more care help, such as piles of old newspapers and years-old food in the freezer). Make your content practical too: include checklists and tips for taking proactive, position action. You could even enter the conversation by creating a list of the best local places to donate used goods — to make room for all the wonderful holiday gifts from family and friends this year.

  • Interview a senior location specialist or senior move manager — such as those working with Caring Transitions — and include their expert insights and tips in your coverage this month.

  • Consider tackling a single aspect of downsizing or relocating — such as helping the senior figure out what to do with the 30+ years of family photos, or how to use sites like eBay or mobile apps like Trove or Close5, to turn old junk into cash. This approach can help the family caregiver or older adult ease into what seems an enormous project — like downsizing from a 4-bedroom house lived in for 50+ years to a 1-bedroom independent living apartment. It could even be that you start with the psychological aspects of downsizing first — such as the tips covered in the book, Stuffology 101 by Brenda Avadian of The Caregiver’s Voice and Eric Riddle.

Content Tips for Senior Living Communities

  • Do any of your residents have stories they’re willing to share publicly about how they successfully downsized to move into your community? Consider interviewing residents to gather their tips and stories for your content on this topic — after all, who better an expert than someone who has successfully downsized and now loves their new digs? With their participation, you also could mask their real identities by using first names only or pseudonyms. The point is to help other seniors like them see that it’s not only possible but can bring many benefits and joys too.

  • Does your community have any special attributes that help seniors to not only keep but showcase some of their treasures, such as a special photo wall or unique memento display cases? Consider blogging about that feature and how it helps seniors in the downsizing process without losing their keepsakes. Or maybe host an activity where you show senior residents how to take old photos from boxes of old albums and turn those into digital files they store (in a safe, easy to access place) online instead, such as Flickr, Dropbox, or Shutterfly.

Content Tips for Home Care Agencies

  • Can your in-home caregivers assist an elder client with the downsizing or relocation process? If so, include some details about those services you offer in your coverage of this topic. Gather some tips from your staff who’ve done this with clients previously. What worked best or what would they suggest others do to optimize downsizing or relocation (any tips they’d share)? Did they learn anything from helping an elder downsize that could be helpful to the family members of other seniors? Your in-house experts may be the best of all!

Caring Resources to Support this Spark

Additional Resources to Support this Spark

  • STUFFology 101: A website, book, and blog with fun & flexile approaches to get your mind out of the clutter

Content Sparks are part of Caring.com’s Content Made Simple program. See all of the Content Sparks.

Content Spark: Alzheimer’s Awareness — What to Do First After Dementia Discovered or Diagnosed

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan designated November as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. This observance continues to this day, with a Presidential Proclamation and organizational activities like those from the Alzheimer’s Association. While much of the content is focused on disease facts, consider covering this topic this month from another angle: What to do when you suspect a loved one has Alzheimer’s, or you’ve just received the diagnosis (What next?). This is not only practical and helpful, it can also help your content stand out from the rest of the coverage this month.

Content Tips for Any Senior Care Company

  • Give context about how many people are affected by Alzheimer’s in the United States, and provide any other relevant facts about the disease — to both educate and raise awareness. Then transition into tips for those who suspect their loved one has dementia or for those whose loved one has just received the diagnosis.

  • Interview experts: It could be a geriatric care manager, a dementia specialist, a geriatrician, a lawyer or estate planner. It could be that you talk to all such experts and compile their advice as a holistic plan for the family caregiver. What do they recommend that the family caregiver do first, second, third, etc.?

  • Include quotes or stories from the family members of those you serve who have this disease. What did they do first? Looking back on their experience, what do they wish they’d known? What tips would they share with others in this position now?

  • Do Be Careful! Especially for patients with dementia, issues of consent and privacy for use of their images, names, or other “personally identifiable information” get tricky. Mentioning that someone is living in a memory care community could be seen as releasing protected health information. If you’re concerned, leave out names and don’t post photos.

  • Make the content easy to read — at a glance, quickly. It can be overwhelming to face this situation, and looking at page of thousands of words may not be feasible or desirable for family caregivers at this time. Use bullets or numbered lists, pull quotes, images, short paragraphs and sub-headlines, for example, as techniques to help make the content more palatable.

Content Tips for Senior Living Communities

  • If you are a memory care community, you have lots of expertise on this subject and this is your opportunity to really demonstrate that fact and shine to prospective residents’ family members. However, avoid content that comes across as too focused on closing the sale though — instead focus on being as helpful as possible, to be a trustworthy guide rather than a slick, self-interested salesman.

  • Consider a “do’s and don’ts” or “when to know it’s time” for family caregivers considering or planning a move to a memory care community for their loved one. While the suspicion or diagnosis may be new, it’s never too early to start thinking ahead to the option of a professional memory care community and plan or prepare for it.

Content Tips for Home Care Agencies

  • What have you learned from helping families whose loved one was suspected as having dementia or who was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s? By reflecting on these insights, and including your tips and how your agency helped, you can provide the guidance that other families in this position really need.

Caring Resources to Support this Spark

Additional Resources to Support this Spark

Content Sparks are part of Caring.com’s Content Made Simple program. See all of the Content Sparks.

Content Spark: The Best Senior Living & Senior Care Providers Stand Out Through Online Reviews

As adult children visit their aging parent(s) over the holidays and consider needs and options for senior care, most will turn to the Internet for information and guidance. An important tool in their online research is the feedback they’ll read in online reviews from folks just like them. In fact, across industries, 92% of consumers in the U.S. and Canada now read online reviews when considering a purchase. Senior care is not exempt — and if anything, reviews are even more valuable given the nature of the need and that only 41% of adult children researching senior living for an aging parent have knowledge of senior living communities in their area. Online reviews help them find senior care providers for their particular needs and preferences — and lists like Caring Stars help the best senior living and senior care providers stand out (helping to narrow the search to the best providers more quickly).

If you’re among the Caring Stars, this is a great opportunity to write content to spread that awareness. And if you’re not: take the time to educate your happy clients and their family members about online reviews and how their feedback can be very beneficial to others in need.

Content Tips for Any Senior Care Company

  • Share facts about senior care reviews (or online reviews in general) — such as the role they’re playing in helping family caregivers and older adults find the best providers or the most valuable feedback that reviews provide in researching senior living and senior care. Include data from relevant, credible surveys about which review sites are most trustworthy, why people care if a business responds to reviews, how many reviews matter, etc.

  • Highlight reviews of your senior living or senior care organization in your content this month, or how online reviews and customer feedback have helped your organization to know which programs and services are most popular or well received, and (if applicable) make improvements to better serve seniors.

  • Ask questions and tell stories: How did online reviews help your current customers find your organization? Are they willing to share their feedback in an online review to help other families and seniors? Is there a review you’ve received with a broader story the family is willing to share in a blog post?

  • Include quick links to your online profile(s) where you want to get reviews — to help make that process as easy as possible for them and generate reviews for your senior care organization.

Content Tips for Senior Living Communities

  • Have you earned the Caring Stars award? It’s never too late to publicize that fact. It’s not an easy honor to achieve — and if you’ve earned enough praise to be recognized as the best, be sure you spread the word.

  • Consider hosting an event in which you train cognitively healthy residents on how to post online reviews. This was also something we suggested in a prior Content Spark for September 2016, and one of our referral partners in Arizona gave it a try at three of their senior living communities. As a result: 2 of the 3 achieved enough positive reviews that they qualified for the Caring Stars 2017 award: the The Villas at Houghton and The Villas at Green Valley. (Note: If you decide to try an event like this, please email reviews@caring.com in advance to give us a heads up about the related activity on your listing that day — otherwise, those reviews may get flagged for follow up to make sure they weren’t staff posted.)

  • Seize the positive feedback moments as they arise too: For instance, a marketer at Eskaton recently shared with me, “Our most successful community to gather online reviews for Caring.com is The Parkview because of the dedication and enthusiasm of the executive director. Each time a family member compliments the building or staff, she grabs a postcard we made called “Shout it out” and circles Caring.com asking for the review. These postcards are displayed at the reception of every location.” That’s just one such example. The feedback could be shared with you in-person, via email, or via mail, and when it is: follow up with that individual, express gratitude, and ask if they’d be willing to share their positive comments publicly on a senior care review site where others like them will see it and benefit from it.

Content Tips for Home Care Agencies

  • Have you earned the Caring Stars award? 2017 was the very first year in the program’s 6-year history that home care agencies could qualify. So if you’re among those to be honored then or since then, you’ve really stood out as among the best agencies in the nation and should be sure to publicize that fact widely.

  • If you’re a Home Care Pulse client: Are you following up on the customer feedback you receive to publicize the positive comments you’re receiving about your services? While you can’t post that feedback yourself on your Caring.com listing, there will soon be a way for some of that feedback to appear as reviews on Caring.com via a new partnership between our two organizations. In the meantime, use your blog or social media profiles to highlight the positive consumer feedback your agency is receiving and ask for public-facing online reviews (that search engines will see too).

Caring Resources to Support this Spark

  • Caring Stars — Reviews Reveal the Best Senior Living Communities & Home Care Agencies

Additional Resources to Support this Spark

Content Sparks are part of Caring.com’s Content Made Simple program. See all of the Content Sparks.

Content Spark: The Caregiver Journey — Data Reveals Greatest Senior Care Challenges

Periodically, Caring.com surveys family caregivers and older adults about the impacts of senior care on their lives, as well as the challenges they’re facing, reasons for the living situation choices they’ve made, and tools they’ve used in caregiving. We collect this input from individuals who search for senior care information online, and we share the results of this industry research.

The 2016 survey “Caregiver Journey” highlights include: the high financial cost of caregiving (and where those dollars are being spent); how much work family caregivers are missing; the intensity of Alzheimer’s caregiving in particular; the common use of professional in-home care agencies as a coping support (including for those living in senior living communities), and more. We’ve also included personal “real life” stories of caregiving to bring the data to life, and encourage you to do the same.

Content Tips for Any Senior Care Company

  • Demonstrate that you understand the experience of family caregivers and older adults by sharing some of the statistics from the Caregiver Journey research, and how your organization helps to address those concerns — or how you’ve seen similar experiences in your senior care work.

  • Uplift family caregivers and older adults by focusing on the solutions to some of the challenges and concerns highlighted in the research, while also celebrating what’s working in senior care in America. For example: how can family caregivers and older adults prepare for senior care costs in advance? What resources are available to help them once they’re in the midst of caregiving, such as helping them connect to experts or others going through similar challenges? Is there legislation in your area that provides senior care tax breaks to ease the financial burden of caregiving? These are just some examples of ways you can focus on the solutions in your coverage.

  • Use the data to adjust the messaging of your marketing materials (as needed). For example, if you’re not already reaching out and speaking to family caregivers in your content, this research (and other studies) show how you can’t ignore the important role of these folks in the senior care search and selection for older adults.

Content Tip for Senior Living Communities

  • Fully 71% of people who move, either into a family member’s home or into a senior community, wait until a medical condition makes it unsafe or impossible to live alone (see also: related McKnights Senior Living article). This is even higher than the 62% who waited that long last year. But then they choose senior living communities based on location more than care needs, and end up unhappy, as our friends at Senior Housing News emphasized in their coverage of the survey. These insights can serve as a cautionary and informative tale, and your senior living community’s blog post on this research could include “the right fit” resident for your service offering, as well as messaging related to the biggest reasons older adults are moving into senior living communities and what to most consider in making the selection. Include feedback from residents and their family members to underscore the points you’ve made, such as excerpts from reviews you’ve received online (be sure to link to those pages to help the reader believe those reviews to be authentic and credible).

Content Tip for Home Care Agencies

  • The Caregiver Journey 2016 research shows that 50% of older adults living independently in their homes employ paid caregivers, 33% of older people living with a family member pay for in-home care, and 27% of family caregivers whose older loved one lives in a senior living community also pay an outside agency to provide care inside that community (above and beyond the care services provided there). Why are so many using this type of care? The Home Care Association of America in collaboration with the Global Coalition on Aging have compiled “The Value of Home Care” and the many benefits of using this type of care. You know these insights firsthand as well. In your senior care content this month, highlight the high use of in-home care in any living situation, and why so many families and older adults are choosing it for themselves and their loved ones.

Caring Resources to Support this Spark

Additional Resources to Support this Spark

Content Sparks are part of Caring.com’s Content Made Simple program. See all of the Content Sparks.

Senior Care Blogging: Resources You Can Use

In our webinar, “Home Care Blogging: From Start to Success,” we discussed many resources that your organization can use to regularly and effectively blog about senior care topics. As promised, we’re listing them here for quick reference and follow up by your team…

Resources to Support Senior Care Bloggers

  • Content Made Simple — This program includes free content marketing services from Caring.com, including three (3) timely themes per month (“content sparks”) with associated content kits to help you produce original blog posts.

  • MOST program — This is corecubed’s affordable marketing system for home care agencies, with an online membership portal where you can order marketing services and professional-designed marketing materials each month, branded for your home care agency.

  • Google.com/Trends — This was mentioned by corecubed’s Marissa Snook as a tool you can use to see popular searches by region, keywords, and time periods.

  • HubSpot Formula for Blog Posts & 5 Post Templates — “After you read this post, there will be absolutely no reason you can’t blog every single day — and do it quickly,” says Rachel Sprung of Hubspot, a leading inbound marketing and sales platform. She also includes five (5) free blog post templates you can use to create posts.

  • Creative Commons.org — If you don’t have original photos from your senior care organization, and don’t have a subscription to a photo service like Thinkstock, you can turn to Creative Commons to find images for use on your blog. Be sure, though, to follow the attribution requirements and link to the source. PhotoPin.com and FreeDigitalPhotos.net are additional photo sources for blogs.

  • Copyblogger.com — Consider reading or subscribing to this blog to continue your learning of blogging best practices

  • Content Marketing Institute — Their site is full of practical, how-to guidance, and you’ll also find insight and advice from content marketing experts, as well as an active community for discussing the latest news and information.

  • The Content Strategist from Contently — Contently is a technology company that helps brands create great content at scale, and I regularly enjoy and learn from the information they share on their blog. You may want to read it too.

  • BloggingBasics101.com and Problogger.net — These are additional sites you can visit to learn more about how to blog, why to blog, and what’s new in the world of blogging.

These were the resources we mentioned during our webinar, and of course we welcome your suggestions as well. Add a comment to help others in their blogging. Thanks!

Also, if you’d like to watch and listen to the webinar session again, you’ll find the recording on Caring.com’s YouTube channel.

Content Spark: The “Employee Caregiver” — How Professional Senior Care Providers Ease The Burden

“Work/life balance” is something many Americans associate with mothers (or fathers) in the workplace caring for children. What’s less widely known, understood and supported is the “employee caregiver” — or people who are juggling career and caregiving for older relatives (such as aging parents), and some while also juggling care for their kids (“sandwich generation caregivers).

Caring.com’s Caregiver Journey 2016 research found some significant negative impacts for family caregivers faced with this challenge: 79% have missed work due to caregiving responsibilities, some leave the workplace altogether, and others are highly distracted while on the job. Your senior care organization is part of the solution to this problem — by easing the direct care burden on family members of older adults, so they can re-focus on maintaining employment and/or career success.

Content Tips for Any Senior Care Company

  • Demonstrate that you understand the experience of Baby Boomers juggling their careers and caregiving by sharing some of the statistics from the Caregiver Journey research. Include real stories from those you’ve helped (either anonymously or with their permission), and discuss how your organization helps to address those concerns.

  • Consider interviewing a local career coach, HR manager, or a representative from the national ReACT coalition for working caregivers, about how big this problem is and what local employers and caregiving organizations are doing to address it. You can also find examples from a Google News search, such as this recent eldercare benefit story about Deloitte LLP.

  • Does your senior care company offer an eldercare benefits to your employees? If so, that’s an interesting angle for your content on this topic, and one that supports your retention and recruiting efforts as well.

Content Tips for Senior Living Communities

  • Do you offer respite or adult day services? These services can be a great way to support family caregivers who are also juggling a career while caring for their loved one at home. Additionally, it’s a way for them to “test drive” your community as a potential better fit for their loved one’s living situation.

  • Are there family members of residents who were struggling with balancing career and caregiving before their loved one moved into your community? How has your community been beneficial to them? Include these real life stories in your coverage this month.

Content Tips for Home Care Agencies

  • Hiring in-home care agencies is one of the top ways that ’employee caregivers’ are able to cope with the challenges of balancing their career while also caring for an aging parent or relative. The Caregiver Journey 2016 research has specific stats on this — be sure to include them in your content this month. The Home Care Association of America also has data and in-home care value propositions you can use.

  • Are there family members of your clients who fit this description and would be willing to share their story to encourage others to use in-home care too? Reach out to them for a quote or two, or if they’ve already posted a review online (either anonymously or with their real name) cite an excerpt from that review and mention their story in your content about family caregivers in the workplace.

Additional Resources to Support this Spark

Content Sparks are part of Caring.com’s Content Made Simple program. See all of the Content Sparks.

Content Spark: Support for Grief in Senior Care

August 30th is National Grief Awareness Day, a day established by Grief Magazine founder, Angie Cartwright to “recognize and honor the oldest journey known to mankind” and to educate society about “the clichés and myths of grieving.” Whether helping families prepare for and cope with their loved ones’ end of life, or supporting your staff when a beloved resident or client dies, grief and loss are very much a part of the work we do in senior care. Take this observance in August as an opportunity to bring these themes to the forefront and provide valuable information to help everyone involved.

Content Tips for Any Senior Care Company

  • The founder of National Grief Awareness Day says that she has found that “healing can only take place when grief is not shamed, rushed, or tabooed…When we lose someone, we are told to move on and to get over our sadness, because grief is commonly perceived as something that needs to be fixed. As a result, the bereaved feel misunderstood, and they end up grieving in silence.” You can use this quote — from a Change.org petition she’s started — as a starting point for blog posts, for social media memes, or as a thematic starting point for any other content you create for this observance.

  • The founder of National Grief Awareness Day also states that the first step in supporting those grieving “is for people to become more aware of what grief stricken people are going through.” Look at the expert resources (some below) on what the stages of grief are, and pass on that knowledge to those you serve and their family members. If you have real stories you can share, that’s a way to draw others in — they can learn from the experiences of others while also realizing they are not alone in the feelings they’re having.

  • Consider a Q&A article with a grief expert. What do they think are the biggest misconceptions about grieving, and what do they recommend for those you serve — as well as for your staff?

  • The founder of National Grief Awareness Day says, “It’s an opportunity for all of us to raise awareness about the painful impact that the death of a loved one has in the life of a human being.” You can discuss that theme, provide real stories (where individuals are willing to share their stories), and include grief support resources that readers can turn to for further help with any feelings of grief or loss that they’re feeling.

  • For organizations that offer hospice or end-of-life services: Demonstrate your expertise in this area, by explaining your philosophies and approaches to supporting those dying and their loved ones. Tip: Avoid being too ‘salesy’ or focused on lead generation and getting new clients. Instead, focus on being understanding, knowledgeable, and helpful.

Content Tips for Senior Living Communities

  • Does your community host any grief support groups? What are your protocols or practices for addressing grief among residents and staff when a beloved resident dies? For instance, do you host memorial events for deceased residents, or have tributes, such as the memory garden that Azura Memory Care of Eau Claire, WI created for remembering residents who’ve died? Are those you serve aware of your offering in this regard? Take this opportunity to talk about your services and support for those who pass away at your community, and for those left grieving by the loss.

Content Tips for Home Care Agencies

  • Does your home care agency partner or collaborate with a hospice provider? Talk about that collaboration and how it benefits those dying and those grieving.

  • Is there anything else that your organization does to support those who are grieving? For instance, is there a client for whom you were hired as an elder companion after the loss of a spouse, friend, or loved one? That story could be a starting point for discussing the impact of grief and how your agency can provide support.

Caring Resources to Support this Spark

Additional Resources to Support this Spark

  • Center for Complicated Grief at Columbia School of Social Work

  • GriefNet.org — a volunteer-based nonprofit that connects individuals to support groups and hosts an online community for those grieving

  • Grief Recovery Institute — this is another expert organization, founded in the mid 1980s, and offering training, workshops, and more

  • Being Mortal – a highly acclaimed book by surgeon Atul Gawande that shows that “the ultimate goal is not a good death but a good life — all the way to the very end”

Content Sparks are part of Caring.com’s Content Made Simple program. See all of the Content Sparks.

Content Spark: Safe in Senior Care – National Safety Month

June is National Safety Month, which focuses on reducing the leading causes of injury and death at work, on the roads, and in our homes and communities. Each week of the month has a different theme: From “Stand Ready to Respond” (highlighting first aid and emergency prep) in week one, to “Share the Roads Safely” in week four. The national campaign also includes information about preventing falls for older adults and avoiding prescription medication dangers or mistakes. It brings up the opportunity for senior care organizations to discuss ways that older adults are safe in senior care, or to address one or more of the month’s specific safety themes.

Content Tips for Any Senior Care Company:

  • Visit the National Safety Council’s Safe for Life site to get each week’s info kit, which includes a flyer, poster, and more. It’s helpful content you can use free of charge.

  • Find out about safety resources and programs in your area, such as the Free Housing Safety Program in Alameda, CA, or Florida’s Senior Safety Resource Center. Write about how older adults in your community can benefit from these services — as well as yours — in staying safe.

  • Take a look at the month’s weekly themes: which one(s) resonate most with your senior care organization and would be easiest for you to create content around? You may be able to create better content if you hone in on one or two of the specific safety hazards with tips for avoiding them — including how your senior care organization is keeping seniors safe in relevant ways.

  • Use interesting, powerful statistics in your content this month. For instance, one of the campaign’s flyers reports that, “Since 2000, more than 11,000 people have been seriously injured because of distracted walking.” Use of mobile phones may be contributing to that statistic and the use of mobile phones by older generations is on the rise — so this could be a unique safety angle you hadn’t yet covered previously, or reason to revisit how seniors are using mobile phones and how to avoid related dangers (including online elder scams via smart phone browsers or text messaging).

Content Tips for Senior Living Communities:

  • What are specific things that your senior living community does to ensure the safety of its residents and visitors? Consider a blog post in which you take the reader on a tour of those aspects of your community’s offering. If you have creative staff with design skills or want to try free online tools for infographics, you could also create a visual (such as this one we did for online reputation management) to convey the information in a way that’s more share-worthy in social media.

  • One of the themes of National Safety Month is being alert to and prepared for dangers. Does your community have plans for emergencies like fire or natural disasters? Do your residents and their family members know and understand the plans? National Safety Month can be an opening for your community to revisit this conversation with those you serve, either in the form of a town hall-style meeting, blog post, series of social posts, or all of the above. Convey how well prepared your community is and help your residents and family members set aside fear and anxiety, resting assured in your community’s safe care.

Content Tips for Home Care Agencies:

  • How are older adults receiving your agency’s services more safe than they were previously without professional help? Use the theme of safety as a way to discuss your agency’s services and how they help seniors be safe.

  • How does your agency help older adults in the event of an emergency such as a house fire or natural disaster? Does your agency have a protocol it uses with your caregivers in clients’ homes, and how familiar are the clients and their family members with those emergency plans? Take this opportunity to convey how well prepared your agency is in supporting its clients and their family members in the event of an emergency.

Caring Resources to Support this Spark:

Additional Resources to Support this Spark:

Content Sparks are part of Caring.com’s Content Made Simple program. See all of the June 2016 Content Sparks.

Digital Marketing Kudos: How LiveWell Uses Online Reviews for Brand Awareness, SEO, and Team Building

LiveWell at Birchwood Lake Estates (LiveWell Assisted Living) in Chapel Hill, North Carolina received its first review on Caring.com in October 2012. It was 5 stars (the highest possible rating) from a daughter-in-law who was helping select the community for her spouse's mother. By the end of 2012, the community had received 5 more positive consumer reviews, and people were calling and visiting the community with mention of the reviews they'd read online.

"I realized that Caring.com was quickly going to become the Yelp of senior care," said Zack Fraley, Vice President of LiveWell Care, Inc., a family owned and operated business representing over 20 years of healthcare management. "I made the decision early on to focus on reviews, and on Caring's reviews site specifically, and it hasn't failed us."

When Zack first began working on LiveWell's search engine optimization (SEO) in 2012, he noticed the quality of Caring.com's content and found the site to be well indexed and search optimized ranking high on page 1 results for many of the keyword searches he did. Zack wanted to concentrate his organization's marketing efforts, recognizing the SEO "barnacle strategy" of attaching to a reputable and relevant partner site, and found Caring.com to be a perfect match for growing awareness and affinity with his brand online.

"No one is a stranger to Google," Zack says, "and when they go to Google, they'll find our Caring.com listing and read what everybody else is saying about us. Even when prospective residents and their family members call our number directly, they’ll say, 'Hey, we saw your reviews on Caring.com. We see that other families have had a great experience with you all.' At LiveWell, we've taken note of that, and have increased our efforts on Caring.com because it's working for us."

LiveWell is the only operator of both in-home care and care home or “micro-communites” for older adults in North Carolina. LiveWell now operates 6 properties in North Carolina's "research triangle" of Raleigh–Durham–Chapel Hill, and has 23 reviews total on their Caring.com listings. The original location at Birchwood Lake Estates earned so many positive reviews that they became a Caring Stars award-winning community three years in a row earning the title of "Caring Super Star" and the only one who earned that coveted distinction in North Carolina in 2015.

"These awards that we've received have distinguished us among the top assisted living communities in the country" Zack said. "The reviews on Caring.com have been a phenomenal marketing asset for us, helping us to widely get exposure that would have been difficult to get otherwise."

To sustain its outstanding online reputation, LiveWell incorporated its reviews focus in staff orientation and training, and circulates new reviews among the entire team to help reinforce the positive impact these caregivers are having for those they serve. The initial success of the Birchwood Lake Estates location has helped set a high-bar standard for their other locations, creating a culture that reflects their commitment to service excellence.

"The reviews we've received show how much focus we have on the details of the services we provide, and in turn, lead to employee satisfaction as well," Zack said. "Our caregivers are able to see how great they're doing, and say to themselves, 'Yes, I'm actually going to be able to have an impact here based on how LiveWell operates'."

LiveWell is also using the consumer reviews in their community sales process.

"If the prospective resident or family member hasn't already mentioned that they've read our reviews online, it's one of the first things we direct them to," Zack says. "We've been doing this since the beginning when we only had the one Caring Stars listing, and now we do it for all of our locations."

LiveWell definitely shines in search results on Caring.com few other assisted living communities in its area have exceeded or matched the quantity and quality of reviews Zack's team has earned from families and older adults on Caring.com (the closest assisted living community with 20+ positive reviews on Caring.com is about 25 miles away, and there are less than a dozen total in the entire state that currently have that review volume). For Chapel Hill and Durham, LiveWell listings rank at or near the top of assisted living and care home search results the review volume attracting clicks and listing visits from senior care searchers.

"Our partnership with Caring.com is a very important aspect of our marketing for all of our communities," Zack says. "The positive reviews we've received for the flagship location reflect a level of service that families can expect at any of our locations, and Caring.com helps us share those feedback stories widely and strengthen our reputation of having happy customers and great employees."

Well done, LiveWell! You successfully seized this digital marketing opportunity — years before many of your competitors, and have since clearly demonstrated the multiple benefits of building your online reputation through reviews on Caring.com!

***Have a Digital Marketing Kudos story to share? We’d love to hear from you. Submit kudos now.

Best Senior Living: Caring Super Stars 2017

To be honored as a Caring Star, your senior living community has to have a high volume of positive and recent reviews, a great overall average rating, and a response to every negative review. It's a distinction that's worth the effort: historically, it led to (on average) twice as many inquiries and move-ins for referral partners with the award vs. those without further demonstrating how this annual list is truly helping to identify the most-popular providers.

Caring Super Stars takes the recognition to the next level: identifying those senior living communities who have been Caring Stars in 3 or more years since 2012. These are the super stellar senior living communities that family caregivers and older adults love and rave about year after year.

Caring Super Stars for 2017

Arizona 2 communities

California 18 communities

Florida 11 communities

Georgia 3 communities

Illinois 2 communities

Iowa 1 community

Maryland 2 communities

Massachusetts 1 community

Michigan 2 communities

Nevada 2 communities

New York 3 communities

Ohio 1 community

Oklahoma 2 communities

Pennsylvania 4 communities

Rhode Island 1 community

South Carolina 1 community

Texas 7 communities

Utah 1 community

Virginia 2 communities

Wisconsin 2 communities

Congratulations to these 68 senior living communities across the United States!

****See Also:

Best Senior Living: Caring Super Stars 2018

The Caring Super Stars of 2018 are assisted living and memory care communities who have earned the Caring Stars reviews award in three (3) or more years since this first-of-its-kind program launched in 2012. These are the repeatedly stellar senior living communities that family caregivers and older adults praise — year after year.

Caring Super Stars for 2018

Arizona 2 communities

California 15 communities

Colorado 2 communities

Florida 8 communities

Idaho 1 community

Illinois 2 communities

Indiana 1 community

Iowa 2 communities

Kentucky 1 community

Louisiana 3 communities

Massachusetts 4 communities

Michigan 3 communities

Mississippi 1 community

Nevada 3 communities

New Jersey 2 communities

New Mexico 1 community

New York 2 communities

Ohio 2 communities

Oklahoma 2 communities

Oregon 1 community

Pennsylvania 5 communities

Rhode Island 1 community

South Carolina 1 community

Texas 7 communities

Utah 3 communities

Virginia 2 communities

Wisconsin 1 community

Congratulations to these 78 senior living communities across the United States!

Best Senior Living: Caring Super Stars 2019

The Caring Super Stars of 2019 are senior living communities who have earned the Caring Stars reviews award in three (3) or more years since this first-of-its-kind program launched in 2012. These are the repeatedly stellar senior living communities that family caregivers and older adults praise — year after year.

Caring Super Stars for 2019

ARIZONA - 3 communities

CALIFORNIA - 12 communities

FLORIDA - 6 communities

IDAHO - 2 communities

ILLINOIS - 1 community

INDIANA - 2 communities

KANSAS - 1 community

MASSACHUSETTS - 1 community

MICHIGAN - 2 communities

MISSISSIPPI - 1 community

MONTANA - 1 community

NEVADA - 1 community

NEW JERSEY - 1 community

NEW MEXICO - 1 community

OHIO - 2 communities

OKLAHOMA - 1 community

PENNSYLVANIA - 3 communities

TENNESSEE - 1 community

TEXAS - 8 communities

UTAH - 1 community

VIRGINIA - 1 community

WASHINGTON - 2 communities

WISCONSIN - 1 community

Congratulations to these 55 senior living communities across the United States!

***See the full list of Caring Stars of 2019 here.

Caring Stars 2019 Criteria: How Senior Living Communities & Home Care Agencies Earned the Award

Caring Stars is a service excellence award and annual list of the best senior living communities and home care agencies based on consumer reviews on Caring.com. These top-rated senior care providers have a lot of great reviews, top ratings, recent reviews, and responses to all negative reviews too. Each year, Caring.com uses a specific set of reviews-based criteria that the providers must meet in order to qualify - and the bar is purposefully set high to ensure that the program continues to truly represent those providers best meeting the needs of the family caregivers and older adults they serve.

For 2019, we've announced the senior living winners and the home care agency winners too.

To qualify for the 2019 Caring Stars award, senior living communities and home care agencies had to meet the following criteria:

● Have 10 or more consumer reviews on their Caring.com listing, with an overall average rating of 4.5 stars or higher (on a scale of 1 to 5) by October 15, 2018;

● Have 3 or more reviews on their listing dated between October 15, 2017 - October 15, 2018, including at least one that was posted during 2018 and at least one that had a 5-star rating; and

● Respond to any/all negative (1-star or 2-star) reviews on their listing.

Have questions about the Caring Stars criteria or the program in general? Please contact community@caring.com or (650) 762-8190.

Best Home Care: Caring Super Stars of 2019

The Caring Super Stars of 2019 are in-home care agencies who have earned the Caring Stars reviews award in the past three (3) years. These are the repeatedly stellar in-home care agencies that family caregivers and older adults praise — year after year.

Caring Super Stars 2019 — Home Care

ARIZONA - 3 agencies

CALIFORNIA - 4 agencies

FLORIDA - 6 agencies

ILLINOIS - 4 agencies

KANSAS - 1 agency

KENTUCKY - 2 agencies

MARYLAND - 5 agencies

MASSACHUSETTS - 2 agencies

MICHIGAN - 1 agency

MISSOURI - 1 agency

NEVADA - 1 agency

NEW JERSEY - 1 agency

NEW YORK - 4 agencies

NORTH CAROLINA - 1 agency

OHIO - 3 agencies

OREGON - 2 agencies

PENNSYLVANIA - 5 agencies

SOUTH CAROLINA - 1 agency

TENNESSEE - 1 agency

TEXAS - 2 agencies

Congratulations to these 50 in-home care agencies across the United States!

***See the full list of in-home care Caring Stars of 2019.

Caring.com Acquires PayingForSeniorCare.com

Caring.com today announced that we have acquired PayingForSeniorCare.com, a website that provides financial information and resources for consumers to understand, plan for, and cover the costs of senior care.

“Caring.com is in growth mode, both organically and through acquisitions," said CEO Jim Rosenthal. "We love this industry and are deeply committed to providing services to caregivers and their loved ones.”

He also noted: “This transaction broadens our footprint, enabling us to increase the volume of informed, qualified consumers that we help along with our partners.”

On the PayingForSeniorCare website, family caregivers and older adults can learn detailed information about the costs of eldercare, search for senior living communities and in-home care agencies, research financial assistance programs and eligibility requirements, compare benefits, and more!

“PayingForSeniorCare.com is a well-established, credible source of senior care content, and we’re excited to add this resource to our portfolio," Rosenthal said.

Read the full press release here.

Best Senior Living: Caring Super Stars 2020

The Caring Super Stars of 2020 are senior living communities who have earned the Caring Stars reviews award for 2020 plus two or more additional years since this first-of-its-kind program launched in 2012. These are the repeatedly stellar senior living communities that family caregivers and older adults praise — year after year.

Caring Super Stars in Senior Living for 2020

CALIFORNIA — 7 communities

FLORIDA — 5 communities

GEORGIA — 1 community

INDIANA — 2 communities

IOWA — 3 communities

KENTUCKY — 1 community

LOUISIANA — 1 community

MARYLAND — 1 community

MASSACHUSETTS — 3 communities

MICHIGAN — 3 communities

MINNESOTA — 1 community

MISSOURI — 1 community

NEW JERSEY — 3 communities

NEW MEXICO — 2 communities

NEW YORK — 1 community

NORTH CAROLINA — 1 community

OHIO — 1 community

OKLAHOMA — 1 community

PENNSYLVANIA — 5 communities

SOUTH CAROLINA — 1 community

TENNESSEE — 2 communities

TEXAS — 6 communities

UTAH — 1 community

VIRGINIA — 4 communities

WASHINGTON — 1 community

WISCONSIN — 1 community

Congratulations to these 59 senior living communities across the United States!

***See the full list of Caring Stars of 2020.

Caring Stars 2020 Criteria: How Senior Living Communities & In-Home Care Agencies Earned the Award

Caring Stars is a service excellence award and annual list of the best senior living communities and in-home care agencies based on consumer ratings and reviews on Caring.com. These top-rated senior care providers have a lot of great reviews, top ratings, recent reviews, and responses to all negative reviews too. Each year, Caring.com uses a specific set of reviews-based criteria that the providers must meet in order to qualify — and the bar is purposefully set high to ensure that the program continues to truly represent those providers best meeting the needs of the family caregivers and older adults they serve.

For 2020, we announced the senior living winners and the home care agency winners in Q4-2019.

To qualify for the 2020 Caring Stars award, senior living communities and in-home care agencies met the following criteria:

● Had 10 or more consumer reviews on their Caring.com listing, with an overall average rating of 4.5 stars or higher (on a scale of 1 to 5) by October 15, 2019;

● Had 3 or more reviews on their listing dated between October 15, 2018 – October 15, 2019, including at least one that was posted during 2019 and at least one that had a 5-star rating; and

● Responded to any/all negative (1-star or 2-star) reviews on their listing.

Have questions about the Caring Stars criteria or the program in general? Please contact reviews@caring.com or (650) 762-8190.

Best Home Care: Caring Super Stars of 2020

The Caring Super Stars of 2020 are in-home care agencies who have earned the Caring Stars reviews award in 2020 and two other prior years since 2017 (having earned Caring Stars in 3 or more years total). These are the repeatedly stellar in-home care agencies that family caregivers and older adults praise — year after year.

Caring Super Stars 2020 — Home Care

ALABAMA - 3 agencies

ARIZONA - 5 agencies

CALIFORNIA - 13 agencies

COLORADO - 3 agencies

CONNECTICUT - 1 agency

FLORIDA - 17 agencies

GEORGIA - 2 agencies

ILLINOIS - 11 agencies

INDIANA - 2 agencies

KANSAS - 1 agency

KENTUCKY - 1 agency

LOUISIANA - 1 agency

MAINE - 1 agency

MARYLAND - 6 agencies

MASSACHUSETTS - 4 agencies

MICHIGAN - 7 agencies

MISSOURI - 3 agencies

NEBRASKA - 1 agency

NEVADA - 2 agencies

NEW HAMPSHIRE - 1 agency

NEW JERSEY - 3 agencies

NEW YORK - 5 agencies

NORTH CAROLINA - 4 agencies

OHIO - 6 agencies

OKLAHOMA - 1 agency

OREGON - 4 agencies

PENNSYLVANIA - 6 agencies

SOUTH CAROLINA - 1 agency

SOUTH DAKOTA - 1 agency

TENNESSEE - 4 agencies

TEXAS - 10 agencies

UTAH - 2 agencies

VIRGINIA - 3 agencies

WASHINGTON - 1 agency

WISCONSIN - 3 agencies

Congratulations to these 139 in-home care agencies across the United States!

***See the full list of in-home care Caring Stars of 2020.

Caring.com Acquires SeniorAdvice.com

Caring.com today announced that we have acquired SeniorAdvice.com, a website that includes a comprehensive directory of senior living communities and senior care options (with consumer reviews) and the SeniorScore index – a proprietary tool using local data to grade the senior-friendliness of U.S. cities and areas.

“The SeniorAdvice offering expands our ability to reach and help even more seniors and their family members in their search for the senior living or in-home care option that best meets their needs,” said Caring's CEO, Jim Rosenthal.

He also noted: "We are committed to providing high quality and highly relevant senior care services that make a significant and positive impact — using the latest data and technology, having a highly-skilled team of senior care experts, and strategically acquiring businesses that fit well with our mission."

The acquisition expands Caring's portfolio of reputable senior care referral services and trustworthy resources for seniors and their loved ones, and supports our ability to deliver informed, qualified referrals and screened leads to our partners.

As the founder of SeniorAdvice stated in the press release, “Caring.com is an industry leader that has dedicated itself to providing the highest quality customer service and has built one of the largest networks of senior care providers anywhere. Caring’s passion, expertise, and resources will help elevate the experience and increase the options for consumers who use SeniorAdvice."

Read the full press release here.

Best Senior Living: Caring Super Stars 2021

The Caring Super Stars of 2021 are senior living communities who have earned the Caring Stars reviews award for 2021 plus two or more additional years since this first-of-its-kind program launched in 2012. These are the repeatedly stellar senior living communities that seniors and their family members praise — year after year.

Caring Super Stars in Senior Living for 2021

ALABAMA — 1 community

ARIZONA — 1 community

CALIFORNIA — 11 communities

DELAWARE — 1 community

FLORIDA — 6 communities

GEORGIA — 1 community

IDAHO — 1 community

KENTUCKY — 1 community

MAINE — 1 community

MASSACHUSETTS — 1 community

MISSOURI — 1 community

NEW JERSEY — 1 community

NEW MEXICO — 1 community

NEW YORK — 2 communities

NORTH CAROLINA — 1 community

OHIO — 1 community

OKLAHOMA — 1 community

PENNSYLVANIA — 4 communities

TENNESSEE — 2 communities

TEXAS — 6 communities

UTAH — 2 communities

VIRGINIA — 2 communities

WASHINGTON — 1 community

Congratulations to these 50 senior living communities across the United States!

***See the full list of Caring Stars of 2021.

Caring Stars 2021 Criteria: How Senior Living Communities & Home Care Agencies Earned the Award

Caring Stars is a service excellence award and annual list of the best senior living communities and in-home care agencies based on consumer ratings and reviews on Caring.com. These top-rated senior care providers have a lot of great reviews, top ratings, recent reviews, and responses to all negative reviews too. Each year, Caring.com uses a specific set of reviews-based criteria that the providers must meet in order to qualify — and the bar is purposefully set high to ensure that the program continues to truly represent those providers best meeting the needs of seniors and their families.

For 2021, we announced the senior living winners in November 2020, and the home care agency winners in December.

To qualify for the 2021 Caring Stars award, senior living communities and home care agencies met the following criteria:

● Had 10 or more consumer reviews published on their Caring.com listing, with an overall average rating of 4.5 stars or higher (on a scale of 1 to 5) by October 15, 2020;

● Had 3 or more reviews published on their listing dated between October 15, 2019 - October 15, 2020, including at least one that was posted during 2020 and at least one that had a 5-star rating; and

● Responded to any/all negative (1-star or 2-star) reviews on their listing.

In determining the Caring Stars 2021 winners, Caring.com also conducted a reviews-integrity audit and took other quality-assurance measures, including screening finalist communities using licensing and inspection reports on state agency websites (where applicable and data publicly available).

Have questions about the Caring Stars criteria or the program in general? Please contact reviews@caring.com or (650) 762-8190.

Stand Out Online – Get Reviews – Boost Move-Ins

Contact sales@caring.com and/or call (855) 897-2433

to learn more and speak with a directory specialist for your area.

There is a significant shift that's been going on in the way that families and seniors are finding and selecting senior living communities. Online marketing is on the rise, while offline and referral marketing is on the decline. Caring is a leader in digital marketing for senior living communities — a preferred referral and advertising partner for thousands of communities nationwide.

Caring does 4 key things to help senior living communities maximize the digital marketing opportunity:

  • We help communities build an enhanced listing on our websites which rank very highly, support millions of monthly visitors, and have domain authority in the senior living space.

  • We help communities increase the number and quality of online consumer reviews and better manage their online reputation.

  • We send pre-screened leads of people who are looking for senior living community options and have opted into having their information shared with Caring partners - these folks include both the senior prospective residents, and their adult children and family members.

  • We provide follow up, support, reporting, and ongoing sales and marketing education to help communities convert online leads into new residents.

To become a senior living partner, contact sales@caring.com to learn more, or call (855) 897-2433 to speak with a directory specialist for your area.

Already a senior living partner? Please contact partnersuccess@caring.com or (855) 932-3880.

Content Spark: Breast Cancer Prevention for Boomers & Seniors

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an observance to raise understanding of the disease and save lives nationwide. According to the CDC: each year in the United States, more than 200,000 women get breast cancer and more than 40,000 women die from the disease — and most breast cancers are found in woman age 50+, a key demographic for senior care organizations.

Content Tips for Any Senior Care Company

  • Discuss the facts associated with breast cancer: who gets it, early warning signs, ways to prevent it, and what’s involved after a diagnosis.

  • Take advantage of the free informational materials from experts that are available, such as those listed in the resources section below, or from the National Breast Cancer Coalition.

  • Interview a specialist in your area. To find these experts, go to a search engine and type in “breast cancer specialist” plus the name of your city or state (such as “breast cancer specialist Long Beach, CA” for example). That will produce a list to cull for the best options of who to contact for an interview. Since those sites are already ranking well, it could help your blog’s SEO to include them in your content and link to them (see “bow-tie SEO strategy” info). It will also add to the credibility and authority of your content by having another local expert voice to complement the expertise of your senior care organization.

Content Tips for Senior Living Communities

  • Some foods or “super foods” are known for their properties that can help your body to prevent or fight cancer. Consider adding some super foods to your meal plan this month, and highlight their benefits and why they’re featured in the food at your community this month.

  • The color for Breast Cancer Awareness Month is pink. Consider decorating the community lobby in pink with information about breast cancer and breast cancer prevention. You might also pass out pink ribbon lapels for your staff to wear this month, and give them a tip or two to share with residents or community visitors who ask about the ribbons.

Content Tips for Home Care Agencies

  • Consider including breast cancer awareness information in the content your in-home caregivers discuss with clients and their family members this month. You could help to encourage them around early detection, and you may even help to save lives. Your in-home caregivers could also wear pink ribbons on their uniform to call attention to this focus this month as well.

  • For home health agencies: include in your content the ways that your staff aid an individual while they’re undergoing treatment for breast cancer.

Caring Resources to Support this Spark

Additional Resources to Support this Spark

Content Sparks are part of Caring.com’s Content Made Simple program. See all of the October 2016 Content Sparks.

Content Spark: Caring for Mom in Her Golden Years

Did you know that the American “Mothers’ Day” holiday was started by a family caregiver? A well-educated businesswoman, Ann Jarvis shifted her focus in 1904 to care for her mother (her namesake) after her father died and her mother’s health declined. On May 10, 1908 (three years after her mother’s death), Ann held a memorial ceremony to honor her mother and all mothers — and thus began her campaign to establish this national tradition, finally proclaimed as an official holiday in the USA in 1914.

With such a direct correlation to our industry, and the significant numbers of older mothers being cared for by their adult daughters (many of them mothers themselves or “sandwich generation caregivers”), we think this is an excellent topic for your content programming in May, and offer these tips and resources to help.

Content Tips for Any Senior Care Company:

  • Talk about the challenges that adult children face in caring for elder or frail parents, and how professional senior care services can help ease the burden — so that the family can shift to focusing more on quality time together in their loved ones’ golden years.

  • To care for her mother, Ann Jarvis moved her into the home Ann shared with her brother — but it did take some time to persuade the elder to leave her own home to live with her children. This is a decision (and challenge) many adult children face: help mom find a senior living community, hire an in-home care agency, and/or move mom into their home — if and when they can convince the senior to accept help in this way. Provide tips and guidance for adult children in having this conversation with their mother and how to proceed with considering the senior care options, such as cost factors or what the different levels of senior living provide.

  • Consider any tribute crafts or legacy activities that you can share with the elder mothers you serve — as a gift for their family members or as an activity with their loved ones. Write about these projects and their importance.

  • Photos and quote memes — such as this poem about each letter in the word Mother — can be particularly effective for increasing social media engagement with your Mothers’ Day programming. Sometimes visuals and meaningful quips can be more emotionally moving than long-form prose, and there’s substantial data from platforms like Facebook and Pinterest that images and shorter posts are more popular among social networking users.

Content Tips for Senior Living Communities:

  • What special activities or dining services do you have planned to help celebrate Mothers Day at your senior living community? Write an overview of how your community is marking the occasion and on your social profiles include great photos (especially the day of or after the event) with photo opt-in by those featured, of course.

  • Interview a senior resident who is a mother and whose daughter (or son) helped her make the decision to move and found your community. What was the process like for them? How has life improved for the elder mother in her golden years as a result of moving into your community? This personal storytelling can resonate particularly well with prospective residents and their family members too.

Content Tips for Home Care Agencies:

  • Help family caregivers understand that they don’t have to go it alone — whether their aging mother lives alone, in a senior living community, or moves in with them, an in-home care agency can help with caring for her in several ways. Avoid the sales pitch though — you want to be seen as a helpful, knowledgeable resource they can rely upon, not as an opportunist seizing on their difficult situation.

  • Interview a senior client who is a mother and whose daughter (or son) helped her accept an in-home caregiver or elder companion and found your agency. What was that experience like for them? How has life improved for the elder mother since then? Real life stories from “people like me” can be particularly helpful to those considering home care for themselves or their elder parents as well.

Additional Resources to Support this Spark:

Content Sparks are part of Caring.com’s Content Made Simple program. See all of the Content Sparks.

Content Spark: Celebrating Independence Through Senior Care

Between the Fourth of July holiday and recent Brexit vote, the theme of “independence” is top of mind for many people this month. Like the United States and Britain, seniors too have a strong desire for being independent and controlling their own destiny — and you can use this opportunity to discuss how senior care helps meet their needs while also honoring their desire for adult autonomy.

Content Tips for Any Senior Care Company

  • Document the challenges of maintaining independence later in life and how your senior care organization helps older adults and their family members address these challenges.

  • Consider an aspect of daily life and how that impacts an older adult’s independence — such as with hearing loss or transportation challenges. While the broader theme is still independence, this content approach zooms in on a tangible relevant example of how older adults can remain independent in important areas of their lives through senior care.

  • How can family caregivers better support their elder loved ones’ independence? How can they balance their desire to take care of everything for their loved one, with respecting the older adults’ dignity and ability to still care for himself or herself in some ways? These are some of the themes you can include in your content this month.

Content Tips for Senior Living Communities

  • For independent living and retirement communities: Discuss how living in a community like yours is better for an older adult maintaining their independence than living alone. Do you have a resident or two who’d be willing to share the reasons they chose to move into the community and how that’s helped them to be more independent than they were living alone? If so, be sure to include their story and photo (with permission of course). Another angle for your content this month: Give tips for researching, selecting and moving into an independent living.

  • For assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing facilities: Discuss some of the ways that your services help residents or patients be independent and/or autonomous despite the increased challenges they may be facing as a result of dementia or other illnesses. Consider sharing individual stories without revealing the real full names of those individuals and (as needed) with permission of their family member(s).

Content Tips for Home Care Agencies

  • Aging in place is another way that independence for older adults is described and you can share how having an elder companion or in-home caregiver can support the older adult in this way.

  • Home modifications and aging in place technologies are also discussed in the context of supporting older adults’ desire for independence. While “aging tech” hasn’t yet been widely adopted, you might nonetheless discuss these options and provide an example of a client your agency is helping who is also using technology or home modifications to remain in their home independently.

Caring Resources to Support this Spark

Additional Resources to Support this Spark

Content Sparks are part of Caring.com’s Content Made Simple program. See all of the July 2016 Content Sparks.

Content Spark: Connecting to Seniors Through Technology

As we covered in a prior content spark and in our social media webinars, it’s a common misperception or stereotype that seniors are technophobes or ‘out of the loop’ when it comes to technology use. While it’s definitely true that there are some seniors who aren’t using technology, there are also many who are — and for those who aren’t, we as senior care organizations can play a role in educating them about the benefits of technology and help them learn.

The theme of this year’s National Assisted Living Week (September 11-17) provides one such opportunity. It’s “Keep Connected” and is focused on recognizing the expanding and exciting ways that assisted living residents are using technology to enhance their lives — as well as the ways that staff are using technology to enhance care. And it’s not just senior living communities that are using technologies to support and engage older adults: home care agencies and other senior care organizations are doing so as well.

Content Tips for Any Senior Care Company

  • Cite the statistics about the growing number of older adults who are using the Internet and social media — such as the figures that the Pew Internet and American Life project puts out. Then bring those stats to life with stories of real users you know who fit in this demographic. Discuss the ways they use it, and include any benefits they’ve experienced — such as a senior who is now more connected to their grandchildren’s daily lives via Facebook, or a senior living resident who used online reviews to find the community they’re in.

  • Consider a technology product round up, such as “10 Technologies That Make A Senior’s Life Easier” with a short description of each one and how it helps. Or, “Our Favorite Apps for Seniors’ Smartphones”, or “5 Websites Worth A Senior’s Time”, or something similar that helps raise awareness about technologies that can improve or enhance the well being of older adults.

  • Alternatively, you could narrow your focus to one technology, such as video chats, or one social media platform and how it helps older adults — whether by connecting them to friends and loved ones, or by stimulating their minds and memory, or by helping them find deals, etc.

Content Tips for Senior Living Communities

  • Blog about the ways that technology is being used in your community to enhance the lives of residents or support your staff in delivering excellence in care. And if you’re using technology to help connect residents to their family members, be sure to include those examples as well.

  • Consider hosting a screening of the Cyber-Seniors documentary during National Assisted Living Week. After the show, open up a discussion with your residents to hear their thoughts about the film, or consider connecting local youth with elders in your community for technology learning.

  • Host an activity where you educate cognitively healthy residents about online reviews and how to post their own — whether about your community’s services on a site like Caring.com, or of their favorite beauty salon on Yelp, or a recently read book on Amazon.com.

Content Tips for Home Care Agencies

  • Is your home care agency using technology in any innovative ways to support your clients and their family members? Create a blog post to discuss those attributes and benefits of hiring your agency.

  • At the Home Care Association of America annual conference, there was a session with Laurie Orlov, founder of

     

    Aging in Place Technology Watch

    , featuring the latest and greatest technologies for use in the home by older adults, caregiving professionals and families to enable safety, engagement, and communication. If you’re attending the conference, go to that session, and include a write up about the information presented on your agency’s blog.

Additional Resources to Support this Spark

Content Sparks are part of Caring.com’s Content Made Simple program. See all of the Content Sparks.

Content Spark: Healthcare Directives – Advance Care Planning

National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD) is April 16, 2016. This observance exists to inspire, educate, and empower people to understand the importance of advance care planning and document patient wishes regarding healthcare and end-of-life medical decisions. The theme this year is, “It Always Seems Too Early, Until It’s Too Late.” Senior living communities, home care agencies, and other senior care organizations can take this opportunity to reach, inform, and motivate family caregivers and older adults regarding advance healthcare directives.

Content Tips for Any Senior Care Company:

  • Interview a local hospice provider, hospital administrator, social worker, doctor, geriatric care manager, or elder law attorney about why it’s so important to have advance health care directives and any tips they’d offer to those you serve.

  • Find out or revisit the relevant laws (and forms) for advance health care directives in your state. Share that information in your related content. Your local Area Agency on Aging may be able to point you in the right direction if you encounter any difficulty finding the information online.

  • Discuss statistics that illuminate the necessity and benefits of having advance healthcare directives, such as Caring.com’s research on living wills. Additionally, first-person stories can be very effective in conveying the value of having these documents in place.

Content Tips for Senior Living Communities:

  • Some senior living communities require advance healthcare directives when moving a new resident into their community. If that applies to your community, reference your policies and why you require such documents.

Content Tips for Home Care Agencies:

  • What are your agency’s policies and procedures related to advance healthcare directives? Discuss those in your content this month.

Caring Resources to Support this Spark:

Additional Resources to Support this Spark:

Content Sparks are part of Caring.com’s Content Made Simple program. See all of the Content Sparks.

Content Spark: Helping Seniors Avoid Scams, Identity Theft & Other Financial Elder Abuse

Law enforcement and government officials warn that scams targeting seniors increase around the holidays — such as this holiday scam advisory from the Attorney General of Ohio. People are more in the ‘giving mood’ or more distracted (less guarded) this time of year as well. Help ensure that older adults in your area don’t get taken advantage of — help them avoid financial elder abuse this holiday season and throughout the year.

Content Tips for Any Senior Care Company

  • Contact local law enforcement or government officials (such as the city manager or city council members) in your area to see if they’re warning local residents of any specific scams they’re seeing this time of year, particularly those that could easily reach and harm seniors (e.g., is package theft a problem this year in your area? What do they recommend for residents?). Let them know that you’d like to make sure that the seniors you serve are made aware, and will share their information or quotes on your blog. Some may already have this information on their social media profiles or websites — if so, excerpt and link to that information from your newsletter, blog or social profiles to help your clients and their family members.

  • Interview a certified financial advisor, certified financial planner, or licensed highly-rated accountant in your area and compile his/her tips to help seniors avoid financial abuse. Or contact a national organization like Elderlife or EverSafe that focuses on seniors’ financial safety and share their top tips.

  • Compile information and resources from senior care experts — such as geriatric care managers, social workers, senior care authors, and others — to help those you serve be aware of the scams and forms of financial abuse, how to avoid them, and what to do if they suspect they’ve fallen victim to identity theft, elder abuse or financial scams.

Content Tips for Senior Living Communities

  • Consider hosting an event for your residents (and their family members) that includes a guest speaker from a local financial planning or elder abuse prevention organization. You could compliment this event with a co-branded handout for participants with the key tips in an at-a-glance format and “more info” list of resources they can use to avoid scams and financial elder abuse.

  • Be extra vigilant or beware of any external visitors to your community around this time who aren’t there to visit a resident loved one. One senior living community had a visitor who claimed they needed someone to help change their $100 bill into smaller bills — an elder resident overheard the visitor ask at the front desk, took pity on the guest, traded the $100 bill for five $20 bills, and it turned out the $100 bill was a fake (law enforcement had to get involved and the resident’s adult child was very angry with the senior living community for allowing the visitor into the community). As much as you can: prepare your staff to help protect your senior residents from falling victim to such scams.

Content Tips for Home Care Agencies

  • Some families don’t realize that hiring a private in-home caregiver off the Internet (like via Craigslist) or via word-of-mouth — rather than hiring a licensed, bonded agency — can increase the risk of their senior loved one falling prey to financial abuse, theft, or scams in the home. This could be an opportunity to remind your existing clients about the precautions you’ve taken — such as extensive background checks and periodic drug testing of your caregivers — to deliver top-notch service they don’t have to worry about. Or you could do a guest post in a local newspaper or on a site like Patch.com to educate adult children about the dangers of hiring unlicensed contractors rather than a highly-rated agency.

  • Consider special training for your caregivers this month — to help them spot the warning signs of financial abuse or scams the senior client may be falling victim to, and remind them of your agency’s protocols for taking action. Then write up a blog post about why you offer this training periodically to your caregivers, why elder financial abuse is a concern this time of year, and how family members can join with you to protect their elder loved ones from holiday scams, identity theft and other financial abuse.

Caring Resources to Support this Spark

Content Sparks are part of Caring.com’s Content Made Simple program. See all of the Content Sparks.

Content Spark: Life with a Mental Illness – Support for Older Adults and Family Caregivers

For over 65 years, May has been designated as Mental Health Awareness Month to help raise awareness and dispel stigma about mental illnesses. This year’s theme is “Life with a Mental Illness,” encouraging individuals to share their personal stories and help others by doing so.

No one is immune from mental illness — it can affect anyone at any point in their life, including older adults and family caregivers. In fact, in one study, Caring.com found that family caregivers were experiencing depression at rates twice the national average. According to the American Psychological Association, older adults have the highest suicide rate of any age group in the U.S., and an estimated 20.4% of adults aged 65 or older meet the criteria for having a mental disorder.

Senior care providers are in a position to spot the signs of mental illness in an older adult, encourage older adults and family caregivers to seek medical help, provide companionship and support, and deliver important information to both prevent and address mental illness. Your blog, website, and/or social media profiles can be starting point for this important endeavor.

Content Tips for Any Senior Care Company:

  • Help raise awareness by writing about mental illnesses affecting older adults — you could pick one, or do a general overview listing several. Be sure to share diagnosis, treatment and recovery resources, such as referral to geriatric psychologists, helplines, support groups, non-profits, and/or government agencies, which can help those afflicted and their family members.

  • Interview a local psychiatrist or psychologist with specialty in serving older adults and/or family caregivers. Include their concerns and tips in your coverage this month.

  • Chronic pain, insomnia, incontinence and other ailments of older bodies can put a senior at increased risk for mood/personality disorders or depression. How is your senior care organization helping to address these concerns and help prevent escalation into mental illness?

  • As part of this year’s campaign, Mental Health America is inviting people to share their mental illness stories in social media using the hashtag, #MentalIllnessFeelsLike. Consider extending this invitation to your clients and their family members.

Content Tips for Senior Living Communities:

  • How has your senior living community been affected by mental illness in the older population? Do you have a psychologist or mental health professional on staff (or as a regular visitor) that assists residents and their family members? If symptoms of mental illness arise in a resident, what actions does your team take to get that individual help? Consider taking this opportunity to raise awareness about how your community is responding to mental illness in older adults.

  • How are your community’s programs, services, or activities helping reduce stress and isolation in older adults, and helping them be mentally well? This observance is an opportunity to share more information, stories, and photos highlighting those ways you’re helping older adults.

  • If mental health screening isn’t already part of the services you offer: consider hosting a mental health-screening day at your community, inviting an external expert organization to conduct that activity. MentalHealthScreening.org is a site with information to help you get started with that event.

Content Tips for Home Care Agencies:

  • How is your home care agency helping to identify mental health concerns in older adults, and what actions do you take when symptoms arise in a client you’re serving? This is an opportunity to both raise awareness about mental illnesses that older adults experience, and gently remind your clients’ families about the role your agency plays vs. the actions they need to also take to get their loved one into medical care for mental illness.

  • Has hiring your home care agency helped an older adult reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation or significantly improved the mental health and well being of their family caregiver(s)? Consider asking if they’d be willing to share their story this month to help other older adults and families struggling with similar challenges.

Caring Resources to Support this Spark:

Additional Resources to Support this Spark:

Content Sparks are part of Caring.com’s Content Made Simple program. See all of the Content Sparks.

Content Spark: Paying for Senior Care — Financial Planning Tips at Tax Time

Whether older adults and family caregivers are celebrating their tax refund or lamenting the amount of taxes they had to pay, the tax filing deadline is a timely opportunity to discuss tax tips, financial planning, and how to pay for senior care. Most Americans are likely to need long-term care at some point in their lives, yet too few are planning and saving for it. Help your existing clients and attract new ones by sharing financial tips for seniors and their family members — particularly those acutely aware of wallet strain at tax time.

Content Tips for Any Senior Care Company:

Content Tips for Senior Living Communities:

  • If your community has any programs, services, or organizational partnerships related to paying for senior living, include information about those options in your financial planning coverage.

  • If you held any tax filing events at your community to help residents with their returns, include a photo or write-up about that event in your monthly e-newsletter or blog post.

Content Tip for Home Care Agencies:

  • Some families don’t realize the tax implications of hiring a professional caregiver ‘under the table’ rather than through an agency. Consider interviewing a Stakeholder Liaison about the policies, practices and procedures the IRS uses to ensure compliance with professional caregiver taxes — and the requirements for both the independent contractors and the families who hire them. Remind family caregivers and older adults about this being one less thing they have to worry about when working with an agency like yours.

Caring Resources to Support this Spark:

Additional Resources to Support this Spark:

Content Sparks are part of Caring.com’s Content Made Simple program. See all of the Content Sparks.

Content Spark: Pets in Senior Care

People love their pets and seniors in particular can benefit from the companionship of a furry friend. But there are also ongoing responsibilities with pet ownership and some safety risks for older adults with animals. And if the older adult needs to move to senior living, can the beloved pet go too? Your senior care organization can help older adults and their family members understand their options and make the best decisions when it comes to pets in senior care.

Content Tips for Any Senior Care Company

  • Contact your local SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) or county animal shelter and speak to an expert about pet ownership by older adults. You could turn the conversation into a Q&A article, or you could include quotes from the expert in an overview or tip article you produce. They may even have a special program you could highlight, such as a “Seniors for Seniors” (older adults adopting older cats and dogs) program, like this Seniors for Seniors in Richmond, VA or one that has discounts and other services for seniors seeking pet ownership, like this SPCA in Sacramento, CA.

  • Compile a list of tips to help seniors (and their family caregivers) be responsible and safe pet owners. Make sure they understand the fall risks of having dogs and cats running around under and near their feet, and include resources they can turn to for support with pet care (including products and services that add conveniences and added safety, such as gates for keeping the pet in a certain area, or electronic cat boxes that clean themselves frequently, etc.).

  • While cats and dogs are the most common and most popular types of pets, consider an “alternative pets for seniors” list that might include: birds, fish, geckos, even robotic pets. These can provide the stimulation and companionship of pet ownership, with less maintenance and fall risk.

Content Tips for Senior Living Communities

  • Does your senior living community allow pets? Be sure that you highlight that fact on your online profiles in senior living directories, on your website, and on your social media profiles as well. It can be a real draw for a senior who currently owns a pet and is hesitant to consider senior living for that reason.

  • If your community does have residents with pets, or there’s a shared pet or two for the entire community: you could do a profile on one or two of them, or a photo collection of all of them (perhaps even a photo contest where your Facebook fans pick their favorite resident pet photos). Images of cats and dogs are quite engaging in social media, and who doesn’t love to see their beloved fur baby in the spotlight? You could even get really creative and come up with a funny Q&A with the various pets — imagining (and crafting quotes for) what they’re thinking about the various aspects of your senior living community. You might even attach a GoPro camera to a resident dog for a day or two — to see the community as the dog does and possibly create a funny short video about this ‘tour taker’.

  • If your community doesn’t allow pets as residents: Consider collaborating with a local animal organization that can bring pets to the community as visitors from time to time for “pet therapy,” such as Wags for Hope does in Frederick, Maryland. Then do a write-up about the visit with lots of lovely photos (showing only those seniors who have given permission for use of their likeness and/or showing only the pets in laps or with hands petting them).

Content Tips for Home Care Agencies

  • Does your agency include help with pet care in its services? If so, consider highlighting that fact on your online profiles in senior living directories, on your website, and on your social media profiles as well. If possible: include a story from a current or past client who benefited greatly from this type of in-home care support.

Caring Resources to Support this Spark

Additional Resources to Support this Spark

Content Sparks are part of Caring.com’s Content Made Simple program. See all of the Content Sparks.

Content Spark: Preventing Falls in Senior Care

The first day of fall is September 22nd this year, and the National Council on Aging and other organizations across the country use this day (and month) to help prevent fall-related injuries among older adults. The theme this year is “Ready, Steady, Balance: Prevent Falls in 2016.” This topic is highly relevant for so many older adults, family caregivers, and professional caregivers nationwide — we hope you’ll join the effort to raise awareness and help families and elders address this concern.

Content Tips for Any Senior Care Company

  • Summarize the top dangers that lead to older adults falling and harming themselves, and what can be done to prevent these falls from happening in the first place. Include tips and technologies that will help older adults prevent falls, or to get help should they fall while home along (such as an ADP wearable response pendant or wristband).

  • Share real-life stories about the damage falls can cause and about people making a difference to prevent falls. This could include older adults who have taken action to protect themselves, such as overcoming initial resistance to using a walker or cane, or getting rid of throw rugs and adding hand rails to their home.

  • Interview a geriatric physician or occupational therapist who specializes in orthopedic injuries — such as Celeste Carlucci and Julie Kardachi, M.A. of the Fall Stop…MOVE STRONG program. Learn about and include their recommendations for helping older adults avoid falls — publish that Q&A on your blog and/or social media profiles.

  • Join the social conversation on Twitter around the hashtag #FPAD2016

    . See what others are sharing, retweet your favorites, follow new people and organizations relevant to your senior care organization, and use the hashtag to help your content get found by more people. There will also be a Twitter chat on September 13th and a Facebook Live event on September 22nd that you can join — both organized around hashtag #FPAD2016 (type the hashtag into the social platform’s search bar to find related posts).

Content Tips for Senior Living Communities

  • What safety features does your senior living community offer that help to prevent falls? Use this opportunity to highlight those and/or remind your residents and their family members how you’ve considered their well being in this way.

  • In the unfortunate instance that a fall should occur in your community, what are your protocols for responding? Are there associated state regulations involved in those protocols? Periodically in senior care reviews on Caring.com we find that families don’t understand these protocols that communities have, and you can use this opportunity to educate them in advance of any related incidents. If helpful, consider including how few falls are actually occurring in your community, and why that number is so low (such as the high quality care, staffing ratios, or other community features that keep that number low).

  • Consider a cane or walker decorating activity and provide materials to help residents bedazzle these walking supports. Be sure, though, that the embellishments don’t create any new hazards (such as ribbons touching the floor that can be tripped over), and instead just help the older adult want to prance proudly with their newly made-over walking support.

Content Tips for Home Care Agencies

  • Does your home care agency help ensure that older adults avoid falls? How so? Take this opportunity to discuss those services and supports in a blog post or social media share.

  • Do your caregivers take a look around clients’ homes to identify any falls risks? How do you communicate those concerns to the older adult and their family members? Consider covering home safety as the angle in your coverage this month and include specific things that your agency is looking for and addressing with clients’ homes.

Caring Resources to Support this Spark

Additional Resources to Support this Spark

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Older Adult Falls info center

  • Google “fall prevention” followed by your state or city. Find out what’s in your area and include those resources in your content this month.

Content Sparks are part of Caring.com’s Content Made Simple program. See all of the Content Sparks.

Content Spark: Boomers & Seniors in the Spotlight

August is “Boomers Making a Difference” Month, celebrating Baby Boomers who have made a significant contribution to their communities by helping others improve their lives. August 21st is National Senior Citizen Day (officially proclaimed as such by Ronald Reagan in 1988) to celebrate and honor the lives and contributions of older adults. Either observance gives your senior care organization the opportunity to spotlight specific Boomers or seniors in your area who are making a positive difference and are worthy of some public recognition.

Content Tips for Any Senior Care Company

  • Pick one or both events, and identify associated individuals to highlight. Outreach to them ASAP to get their agreement on participation. Interview them, and feature their responses as a Q&A article, or woven into a blog post, or shared in social media with photos.

  • Have a Baby Boomer on your staff who deserves to be recognized for improving the lives of others? Write a profile article or blog post, or share their story on your Facebook page.

  • How does your organization recognize, celebrate or thank seniors? Take this opportunity to highlight those ways, whether through your blog, newsletter, or social media profiles.

  • Consider creating a list of the best senior citizen discounts in your area as a way to celebrate National Senior Citizens Day.

Content Tips for Senior Living Communities:

  • Are there residents in your community who have unique and/or compelling stories related to their contributions to society? For example: Brice Harris, a resident at Villa Gardens in Pasadena, CA who is a retired history professor and chairperson of a special summer camp for youth held at the community this year. Or the resident artists and woodworkers at The Holmstad in Batavia, IL who created a fairy garden scavenger hunt for a local Girl Scout troop. Or Aliya Kuykendall, who recently celebrated her 105th birthday with a mayoral proclamation and a few songs the grand piano at Atria Senior Living in Carrollton, TX (Aliya taught piano lessons until her mid-90s). Find the socially active seniors and stories at your community, and highlight those throughout the month, or on August 21st.

  • Consider hosting a National Senior Citizens Day event, activity, or party at your community with your residents as the guests of honor.

Content Tips for Home Care Agencies:

  • Is your agency caring for a senior who has a unique and/or compelling story related to their contributions to society? How about seniors in your community who are inspiring and worthy of note? Consider a blog post featuring these individuals, such as Griswold Home Care did in this post on their blog.

Additional Resources to Support this Spark:

Content Spark: Prostate Health for Boomers & Seniors

September is Prostate Health Awareness Month and Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, observances to raise awareness and save lives nationwide. Given that early detection is critical to successful treatment, and there are about 30,000 men who die of prostate cancer in the United States each year — with men age 65 and older among those most commonly diagnosed with this disease: this is a health matter of concern to those you serve.

Content Tips for Any Senior Care Company

  • Discuss the facts associated with prostate cancer: who gets it, early warning signs, ways to prevent it, and what’s involved after a diagnosis.

  • Take advantage of the free informational materials from experts that are available, such as those listed in the resources section below, or those on the Urology Care Foundation site, for example.

  • Contact a local urologist or urology clinic — such as the Urology Clinic of SW Washington/The Vancouver Clinic for example — to interview a specialist in your area. To find these experts, go to a search engine and type in “prostate cancer” or “prostate health” or “urology” plus the name of your city or state. That will produce a list to cull for the best options of who to contact for an interview. Since those sites are already ranking well, it could help your blog’s SEO to include them in your content and link to them (see “bow-tie SEO strategy” info). It will also add to the credibility and authority of your content by having another local expert voice to complement the expertise of your senior care organization.

  • Consider participating in one of the Zero Prostate Cancer Run/Walk events happening around the country. Wear t-shirts or carry a banner to highlight your organization and the work it does.

Content Tips for Senior Living Communities

  • Some foods and drinks are better than others to support prostate health. Consider highlighting those in your dining menu this month, and/or share a related recipe or two on your community’s blog or social profiles (particularly Facebook and Pinterest that are great for such content). See “Caring Resources” list below for some suggestions, or use the dietary recommendations of a urologist or geriatrician.

Content Tips for Home Care Agencies

  • Are your caregivers trained to look for the early warning signs of prostate problems? If so, highlight that expertise this month.

  • For home health agencies: include in your content the ways that your staff aid an individual with prostate problems or while they’re undergoing treatment for prostate cancer.

Additional Resources to Support this Spark

Content Sparks are part of Caring.com’s Content Made Simple program. See all of the September 2016 Content Sparks.

Content Spark: Best States to Grow Old In

In a new report examining a variety of financial, healthcare and quality of life factors, Caring.com has released a ranking of the best states to grow old in — with some results that may surprise you (and those you serve). For instance, states widely recognized as popular retirement destinations — such as Florida and Arizona — didn’t rank in the top 10. Whereas South Dakota did, taking the top spot due to the state’s seniors having access to high-quality healthcare and senior care, along with associated costs hovering around the national average — helping it outrank all of other states for growing old in.

Given the sizeable graying population in the U.S., and the option for folks to choose where in the country they retire, this report was covered by news media outlets across the country, including The Today Show, local newspapers and TV/radio stations, and some trade pubs (like Home Health Care News and McKnights Senior Living). It’s not too late for you to likewise discuss the findings and what they mean for your state specifically — particularly if your state ranked well and the reviews on your Caring.com listing helped contribute to that ranking.

Content Tips for Any Senior Care Company:

  • If your state is in the top 10: Blog about your ranking and the reasons your state is a great place to grow old in. The coverage on Caring.com includes some of the reasons, and our team can provide detailed data for your state if you’re planning to blog about it.

  • If your state isn’t in the top 10: Contact our team to find out where you landed on the list and what factors led to your ranking. This is still a good starting point for a blog post about growing old in your state — whether to highlight the positives, or to discuss how you’re helping seniors overcome some of the downsides of aging in your state (e.g., helping to overcome isolation in rugged rural areas).

  • Compile a Q&A article: Interview a representative of your state’s Health and Human Services Department or the Long-Term Care Ombudsman, or a local Area Agencies on Aging representative about why your state is a great place to grow old in (or what it needs to do to be a better place to grow old in).

  • The cost of care was a contributing factor in which states ranked well in the Caring.com study. And in a separate study by International Data Corporation (IDC) and YellowPages.com about local search in 2016, 76% of consumers reported that they search online for local prices. Take this opportunity to blog about senior care costs and ways to pay in your state — that could be content that senior care searchers value very much and pass along to others.

  • Consumer reviews on Caring.com were also among the factors considered in the Best States to Grow Old study. What are older adults and family caregivers saying about your services in reviews on Caring.com? Share that feedback — and you may generate more like it (particularly if you include a link to your listing’s review submission form).

Content Tips for Senior Living Communities:

  • Bring the topic home: How is your senior living community contributing to your state being among the best in the nation for Baby Boomers and older adults to grow old in? Write about that and include compelling photos that illustrate or support your points — real photos done well can drive significantly more engagement with your content than stock photography (particularly if you’re using the same stock images many other senior living communities are using on their websites).

Content Tips for Home Care Agencies:

  • Go hyper-local: Has your home care agency positively contributed to your state’s ranking in the study? Is there any special significance between your agency and your state — such as the owners being third- or fourth-generation residents of the state? Communicate and celebrate any local connections in a blog post about the state study.

Caring Resources to Support this Spark:

Additional Resources to Support this Spark:

Content Spark: Safe Driving for Seniors

While senior driving content typically focuses on the threat older drivers pose to other drivers on the road, one should also consider the threat to older adults behind the wheel. This is another way to help family caregivers have the important conversation with their elder loved ones about giving up the keys and finding safer ways to get around — and it’s an opportunity for senior care organizations to highlight the ways they can help too.

Content Tips for Any Senior Care Company

Content Tips for Senior Living Communities

  • How does your senior living community help take older drivers off the road? This is a great opportunity to remind families you serve about the transportation services you offer for residents.

  • Do you have a story of any resident whose family was concerned about driving, and for whom that concern was alleviated by their loved one moving into your community? Would they be willing to be quoted or mentioned? If so: real stories of ‘folks like me’ can be very compelling for prospective residents and their family members and you should include such stories in your content as often as you can (with opt-in if you use real names, or anonymously if it’s preferred that real identity not be used).

Content Tips for Home Care Agencies

  • Does your home care agency help take older drivers off the road by having your professional caregivers do the driving for them? This is a great opportunity to remind families you serve about the transportation services you offer for clients. Include any real-life stories from existing or former clients, with their permission, or anonymously if they’d prefer to not use their real identity in such articles.

  • Does your agency talk to older adult clients about driving concerns? If so, what have you found to be most effective for convincing them to reduce driving or give up the keys entirely? Share that expertise in your content this month.

Caring Resources to Support this Spark

Additional Resources to Support this Spark

Content Sparks are part of Caring.com’s Content Made Simple program. See all of the Content Sparks.

Content Spark: Alzheimer’s Care Awareness – “The Longest Day”

“The Longest Day” is an all-day event in June organized by the Alzheimer’s Association. It’s held annually on the summer solstice, lasts from sunrise to sunset, and symbolizes the challenging journey of those living with the disease and their caregivers. This year, The Longest Day is held on June 20 to “honor the strength, heart, and endurance of those facing this devastating disease.” To raise awareness about Alzheimer’s caregiving, fundraise for research toward a cure, and connect with others doing the same, your organization can participate in offline event(s) and join the conversations online.

Content Tips for Any Senior Care Company:

  • Contact the local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association and find out what opportunities exist for your senior care organization to participate in The Longest Day. The event website also has ideas for participation. Include your involvement in your content this month, whether in your e-newsletter to residents and families, or on your social media profiles, or via your blog.

  • Use photos as much as possible to create engaging content — whether photos of your senior care organization participating in the event, or of real families affected by the disease (who are willing to be featured and have opted in to having their photo shared in this way). For inspiration, the campaign website has some great examples of images associated with the event.

  • Tell stories and/or showcase those individuals who are living examples of the campaign themes. If doing original, new interviews: consider doing the Q&A via email with the family caregiver(s) — making it as convenient as possible for him/her to participate on their own time. Or compile and share anonymous quotes from online caregiver or patient forums to highlight the challenging journey of this disease. Alternatively: Do any of your leaders or staff have personal experience caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease? See if they’re willing to share stories from their personal experiences to help raise awareness and make a connection with those you’re trying to reach.

  • For those on Twitter: Consider participating in the online conversation via a series of tweets throughout the day to highlight specific facts and resources around Alzheimer’s care. The campaign hashtag is #TheLongestDay.

  • If creating original content seems too daunting: compile and summarize Alzheimer’s care expertise from any of the resources linked below (see “resources to support this spark” sections), or tap into the Content Made Simple program to reprint from Caring.com’s extensive archives on this subject.

Content Tips for Senior Living Communities:

  • As applicable: Create content that demonstrates your community’s expertise in memory care. Include specifics of how your community supports those living with the disease (and their family members) and if possible, incorporate specific examples of any positive outcomes for those individuals. For instance, in Caring.com’s online support groups, family caregivers often discuss the initial guilt they felt with moving mom or dad to a memory care community, and how that changed over time when they saw how much better their loved one was doing, and how much relief it brought to the family to have their loved one in safe, engaging, professional care. If you have similar stories with residents in your community and their loved ones, see if they’d be willing to share about that openly, and/or be an anonymous example in your blog post.

  • Incorporate activities from The Longest Day campaign into your community’s activities programming that day. Then share photos and summaries on your social profiles, in your e-newsletter, and/or on your blog.

  • You might also participate by incorporating The MIND Diet into your community’s menu that day, or by including foods that promote brain health. Perhaps post a recipe on your blog, or talk about how your community’s meals are keeping residents’ brain health in mind.

Content Tips for Home Care Agencies:

  • As applicable: Create content that demonstrates your agency’s expertise in care for those with Alzheimer’s or memory loss. Include specifics of how your caregivers support those living with the disease (and their family members) and if possible, incorporate specific examples of any positive outcomes for those individuals. For instance, is your agency providing much-needed respite for a family caregiver whose loved one has Alzheimer’s? Making it possible for the family caregiver to work outside the home while your agency engages their loved one in activities and takes care of their basic needs such as meals, meds, dressing, etc.? See if they’d be willing to share their story or be included as an example in your blog post for The Longest Day.

Caring Resources to Support this Spark:

Additional Resources to Support this Spark:

Content Spark: A Breath of Fresh Air – Welcoming “Vitamin O”

For many Americans, it was a brutal winter this year — with more snow, sleet, and rain than preferred, and more time cooped up inside. With the fresh air and sunshine of spring, it’s a great opportunity to enjoy some “vitamin O” or the benefits of the outdoors.

Even if simply peered at through a window, it can help boost mood, lower stress, and help with immunity.

Content Tips for Senior Living Communities:

  • Promote any activities you have that take your residents outdoors, such as tending a community garden or daytrips to nearby parks, or that bring the outdoors in, such as creating and hanging bird feeders for residents’ apartments.

  • Discuss the greenery and grounds of your senior living community — what trees, plants, flowers, and birds can be found if a resident and their loved ones venture out. Include anything about the ‘outdoors’ of your community that make is particularly special — and excerpt reviews that praise such features.

  • Consider including a quote or two from your grounds crew — especially if they’re team members beloved by residents and their families. Even a Q&A with your facilities manager can help put a human face to this story.

Content Tips for Home Care

  • Talk about how your agency can help your clients to enjoy the outdoors — whether taking them to a local park or botanical gardens, or bringing fresh cut flowers and houseplants inside.

  • Have a client with a lovely garden each year? Consider an article profiling this senior and his/her ‘green thumb,’ as a way to put a human face to nature’s benefits for older adults.

Content Tips for Any Senior Care Company

  • Consider creating a list of simple activities that involve nature and the ‘great outdoors’ — such as making bird feeders or going bird watching, or creating floral centerpieces, or taking guided nature walks.

  • Include facts about the health and well being benefits of getting outside or connecting with nature.

Additional Resources to Support this Spark:

  • Contact your local Area Agency on Aging to see if they have any special programs and resources focused on getting older adults outdoors.

  • Contact your city’s Parks and Recreation department to learn about their nature-oriented programs for seniors, such as this one in Portland, Oregon.

Content Marketing: 3 Best Practices for Senior Living Communities

Whether you’re a seasoned marketer or new to your senior living community’s marketing department, you’ve probably heard about “content marketing.” This ‘new way of doing things’ is getting attention as the latest and greatest way to reach and convert target audiences — in some cases replacing traditional advertising and as a complement to social media marketing.

Content marketing is particularly important when you consider that 60% of the sales decision is now done before a buyer ever contacts a vendor. Today’s savvy consumers are increasingly blind to ads, and the senior living decision cycle can take months.

“Content is necessary to educate, build trust and credibility, and answer questions consumers have,” said Brandi Towns, director of content strategy at GlynnDevins, in Caring.com’s recent content marketing webinar attended by over a hundred senior care professionals. Her tip:

“Today’s consumers have access to much more information online, and marketers must determine the best way to create and distribute relevant content that attracts, acquires, and engages our target audience.”

Have you tried content marketing yet? Here are some best practices to help you get started or to refine the results you’re already seeing from this new marketing focus.

  1. Understand your audience — to identify the best opportunities for content and to add real value for those you’re trying to reach. Holiday Retirement, for example, understood that when an elder needs senior living, it’s very common for their family members to help in the search, often doing the research on the Internet. So Holiday conducted an online survey of family caregivers to identify any senior living misconceptions or concerns. Holiday then turned the survey results into a helpful e-book to quell anxieties about senior living, offer actionable tips, demonstrate topic authority, and ultimately engage families in considering Holiday’s communities for their elder loved ones.This was an excellent example of content marketing in senior living. First, they identified an important target audience and where they search for senior living communities. Then they gathered information to better understand the prospects’ needs, and lastly used that information to deliver relevant, useful content matched to those needs.

    Not every senior living community, though, has the budget or resources to do extensive research. The good news is there is already a lot of data readily available about who family caregivers are and what informational needs they have. Organizations like Pew Research Center, National Alliance for Caregiving, Administration on Aging, and others regularly release research reports about older Americans and Baby Boomers — such as this one about family support in graying societies — that offer insights about your target audience(s) and can help guide you to the right ways for reaching them.

    You can also peruse online discussion forums or conversations on Facebook pages to get a sense of the top-of-mind questions and concerns that family caregivers and older adults are having — whether it’s not knowing the right time to consider assisted living or trying to understand the difference between the senior living options. Caring.com’s monthly “content sparks” for the senior care industry also offer ideas for what to write about to reach family caregivers and older adults.

  2. Craft quality content that’s optimized for search engines and social sharing. Once you’ve figured out the right messages at the right time in the right places, you’re ready to create some quality content that gets found via search engines, can be read and enjoyed on smartphones, and is spread to as many people as possible in the target audience(s).

    Hopefully you have staff who can write compelling articles for your blog or website, or a content budget to work with an agency. Take a look at other senior living blogs to see what’s working: for instance, Atria Senior Living’s blog is one such example of stellar senior care content that’s presented well. Google also offers your team content creation tips, and some sites like Caring.com have reprint and original content programs you can take advantage of as well.

    Remember though:

    “Content alone isn’t going to work. If you publish content, they will not come to it magically,” says search engine optimization (SEO) expert, AJ Kohn of Blind Five Year Old.

    To help your articles rank on search engines: don’t forget page titles, keyword-rich meta-descriptions, and other SEO basics. You’ll also need to make sure your content pages are easily accessible and load fast on smartphones.

    Reader comments is another way to get the attention of search engines for pages on your site. Rather than try to build and manage a commenting platform yourself, though, consider using a third-party service. Or include excerpts of consumer reviews you get on Caring.com or SeniorHomes, as another form of user-generated content that’s attractive to search engines.

    Also, make it easy for readers to pass the content to friends and family via email and social networks, by using social sharing plugins (see “for developers” sections of the major social networks) or via a third-party service like ShareThis or AddThis.

    And make sure you have great photos on the page — that can make a significant difference with social sharing and engagement. The inbound marketers at HubSpot report that “content with relevant images gets 94% more views than content without relevant images.”

  3. Collaborate with other authoritative experts. Ever heard of the “barnacle” strategy in SEO?

    Like a barnacle attaching itself to a ship, you can hitch onto sites that have invested significant time and money into successfully ranking on search engines.

    One way you can do this is by guest blogging on their site, and including at least one link to your website. Not only does this help get your brand and senior care content in front of that website’s audience, it was also recommended by AJ Kohn in an SEO best practices webcast because it connects your website to other authoritative sites matched with your senior living expertise. Conversely, you can achieve this by having senior living experts from other organizations, such as local social workers or geriatric care managers, guest blog on your site.

  4. Content marketing is an exciting opportunity to connect and convert prospective residents (and their families) to your community, and I hope these best practices and tips will help you get started or ramp up your efforts.

Content Sparks for Original Content Creation via Content Made Simple

As part of Caring.com’s free content marketing services through the Content Made Simple program, we offer fresh ideas for original articles on your senior care blog, website, or social media profiles called “content sparks”.

Each idea or “content spark” comes with a theme, tips for quality storytelling and writing, and authoritative resource links. We just ask that you give us some credit when you use any of the information we suggest.

Editor’s Note: These monthly ideas were originally published in 2016, but still relevant today.

Content Sparks for January

Content Sparks for February

Content Sparks for March

Content Sparks for April

Content Sparks for May

Content Sparks for June

Content Sparks for July

Content Sparks for August

Content Sparks for September

Content Sparks for October

Content Sparks for November

Content Sparks for December

Content Spark: Seniors More Social Than Public Thinks — How Senior Care Organizations Help

The lonely widow. The tech neophyte. The TV-addicted bore. These are common stereotypes about older adults in America that don’t necessarily hold true for the majority of seniors nowadays.

Whether having a grand time in senior living communities, staying connecting with family through social media, or volunteering with local non-profits, today’s seniors are aging actively and less lonely than people think.

Content Tips for Senior Living Communities:

  • Include stories and photos of social activities in your senior living community — how they bring residents together for companionship, fun, and quality of life.

  • Include quotes from residents about how meaningful your community’s activities are to them. You can also include excerpts of reviews you’ve received that reference your social activities among reasons your community is great.

  • Consider having your activities director write this particular blog post — this can add elements of passion and expertise to the tone of the post, making it even more compelling to your blog or newsletter readers.

Content Tips for Home Care Agencies:

  • Profile stories of clients who volunteer in their community, and include quotes from those non-profits or organizations about how wonderful it is to have the older adult’s help.

  • Include stories about how your agency staff help clients stay connected to their families and communities, such as helping them learn social media platforms like Facebook or driving them to social functions they wouldn’t otherwise be able to attend.

Content Tips for Any Senior Care Company:

  • Include recent statistics about the high quantity of seniors now online and using social media.

  • Include true stories about active older adults who defy the stereotypes of loneliness and boredom in the final years of life.

Additional Resources to Support this Spark:

Content Sparks are part of Caring.com’s Content Made Simple program. See all of the Content Sparks.

Content Spark: Spring Cleaning

That famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow this year — an early spring is in the forecast. And with cleanliness next to Godliness, it’s time to for some spring-cleaning!

Whip out those dust and dander busters, obliterate the stuffiness of winter and “old person smell,” disinfect your way to germ-free environments, cast away the clutter, and help older adults begin spring fresh and anew.

Content Tips for Senior Living Communities:

  • Talk about your cleaning/maintenance programs for residents and any that are specific to spring time.

  • Include tips for downsizing when moving to assisted living — or for those who overestimated how much space they had in their apartment within your community (or somehow accumulated too much stuff post move-in).

Content Tips for Home Care Agencies:

  • Talk about how your agency helps with ongoing/weekly cleaning of your clients’ homes, and about any special programs you have for helping with spring-cleaning.

  • Includes tips for downsizing — whether in preparation for a move or just to de-clutter the living space.

Content Tips for Any Senior Care Company:

  • Consider including cleaning tips or shortcuts — to help make cleaning easier on older adults and/or their family caregivers.

  • Consider including cleaning tips relevant to pets — ways to clean up after pets that isn’t too onerous to do.

  • Consider mention of eco-friendly cleaning options — for those who are sensitive to chemicals or environmentally concerned.

  • Interview or include quotes about downsizing tips from a senior move manager.

Additional Resources to Support this Spark: