Aug 31, 2018 by Comfort Keepers of San Marcos
If you’ve ever Googled a business, you’re probably used to looking on the right-hand side of the screen and seeing the business’s “profile” pop up. It shows the business’s name, location, hours of operation, website, phone number, and shows any Google reviews (sometimes with accompanied pictures of the place/service) that have been posted by consumers.
These reviews combine to give the business an average rating out of 5 stars.
Yelp functions similarly, only it doesn’t seem to be as popular as Google reviews. However, it is a website (and app you can download on your smartphone) that focuses solely on reviews of businesses, whereas Google obviously does much more than that.
It’s a great tool to use when you’re looking to try new things in your own town, whether it’s new restaurants, a new hair or nail salon, or even beautiful places to go hiking.
It’s also handy to have when you travel, as Yelp reviewers tend to be very candid and passionate about their experiences in their posts. It can give you an idea of where to eat, what hotel to stay in, and local scenery to check out in a place you’re not very familiar with.
Now, Yelp is being used for something slightly different – to help people find quality senior care.
It makes sense, right? We use Yelp (and Google reviews) to check the validity of other businesses beforehand, so why not home health care, too?
Unfortunately, there aren’t nearly as many people reviewing senior care (both medical and non-medical) as there are reviewing local pizza parlors or grocery stores. The fewer reviews, the less reliable the information is, as people tend to post radical ratings (oftentimes you’ll see only 1 or 5-star ratings; very rarely anything in between).
However, even with fewer ratings, apps like Yelp might shed more honest light on senior care as compared to similar government tools like the Nursing Home Compare tool.
The government tool came out in 1998, with the star-ranking availability coming out in 2009. While it does have valuable information on senior care, the problem lies in the ratings – they are unreliable, as the businesses themselves post them. No business would give themselves a poor rating, so the 4-5 stars are a false representation of what the institutions are actually like.
Consumers can’t post anything to this website, so the ratings have absolutely no correlation to what the senior residents themselves (and their considered family members) have to say about the care they received.
While Yelp itself is not entirely reflective of a business, it seems more honest than this government tool, as businesses cannot review themselves on it, only consumers.
However, this doesn’t mean that you should rely solely on Yelp for finding the right care provider for you and your loved one. Use it as the starting point for your research on various institutions. Also use other online reviews, such as Google reviews.
The most telling way to find out whether a home care agency checks all your boxes is to read the reviews and talk to the staff yourself. Do the reviews and pictures posted match up with what you’re seeing? Sit down and talk with a client care coordinator or geriatric care manager from the agency and ask them as many questions as your heart desires. This is how you find the agency and care that’s right for you and using internet reviews can help you initially narrow down the places in which you’ll visit.
Just as the reviews you’ll read will be useful to you, the reviews you write can also help others! The more people post about the care their loved ones receive, the more reliable information will be available on these reviewing websites and apps for people in the future.
Do your part and if you have gathered useful information about a senior care agency (or any business, for that matter), post a review and rating for them. Good or bad, it’ll give other consumers like you a better picture of the business at hand!