Senior Living Community Selection Driven by Convenient Location; Satisfaction Driven by Quality Staff, J.D. Power Finds

February 12, 2018

COSTA MESA, CA–The classic rules of residential real estate also apply to senior living communities. According to the J.D. Power 2018 Senior Living Satisfaction Study,SM convenient location and quality staff are the key drivers of satisfaction—far outpacing cost—among residents and their families.

The inaugural study measures resident and family satisfaction with the nation’s largest providers of residential communities for seniors. Overall satisfaction is measured across six factors of the resident experience (listed in order of importance): caregiver and staff; services and activities; cost given services; rooms, building and grounds; food and beverage; and service setup and new resident orientation. Satisfaction is measured on a 1,000-point scale.

“With the oncoming ‘silver tsunami’ of Baby Boomers eventually flooding the senior living marketplace, independent and assisted-living providers are gearing up to exceed customer expectations, while expanding their portfolio by building and acquiring new assets,” said Greg Truex, senior director at J.D. Power. “This inaugural study defines the performance metrics and behavioral patterns to reach operational capacity in the near term, while identifying critical long-term needs and demands. This is achieved by standardizing performance metrics, identifying resident expectations and behaviors, and creating a clear road map for providers by sharing a clear vision of today’s customer expectations.”

To conduct this study, J.D. Power surveyed residents of senior living communities along with individuals who make decisions on their behalf, such as spouses, siblings, adult children and friends. The study was conducted in partnership with A Place for Mom, a leading source of senior living industry consumer information and behavioral data tied to researching, selecting and moving into a senior living community.  J.D. Power partnered with A Place for Mom to invite seniors and families who had recently transitioned to senior living communities to participate in the survey, which was independently administered by J.D. Power.

“We believe assisting families to fully understand their options through the independent information provided by J.D. Power and sites like, or the support of a local A Place for Mom Senior Living Advisor, allows families the opportunity to fully understand their senior living options and make the right personal decision for themselves, or on behalf of a parent or loved one,” added Charlie Severn, vice president of marketing at A Place for Mom.

Following are some key findings of the study:

  • Community staff is most important to overall satisfaction:When looking at all the factors that make up the senior living experience, caregiver and staff significantly stands out from the others. In fact, the staff is nearly twice as important as the cost given services factor in driving overall satisfaction.
  • Location, location, location:Convenience of location is the top reason a community is selected (60%), followed by quality of staff and service (45%) and the variety of services offered (44%).
  • Exceeding expectations is key for communities:Communities that provide exceptional service are rewarded by their customers becoming brand ambassadors, positively speaking about their experience with an average of seven friends, relatives and colleagues. For those that fail to meet expectations, customers turn into brand assassins, speaking negatively about the brand to an average of 13 friends, relatives and colleagues.
  • Service agreement consistency is key to increasing satisfaction:While 89% of customers indicate there was consistency between what was listed in their service agreement and the actual service received, overall satisfaction decreases 300 points when the experience differs from what is included in the contract.
  • Referral services:Excluding respondents who utilized A Place for Mom as their referral service to avoid introducing bias, 21% of respondents used a referral service to find their community. Satisfaction among those who used a referral service during their search is 16 points higher than among those who didn’t use such a service.

Study rankings:

Sunrise Senior Living ranks highest with an overall satisfaction score of 802, driven primarily by high scores in caregiver and staff; services and activities; rooms, building and grounds; food and beverage; and service setup and new resident orientation. Holiday Retirement (792) ranks second and Capital Senior Living Corporation (780) ranks third.

The study is based on responses from 2,539 residents (or their decision-maker) living in an independent or assisted-living community within the previous five years, and was fielded in October-December 2017.

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