What You Need to Know: US News "Best of Senior Living" Report

Members | May 09, 2022 | by Dee Pekruhn

For the first time this year, U.S. News and World Report will publish a "Best of Senior Living" report that will list and rate aging services providers in Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care and Continuing Care Retirement Community categories. This article reviews important components of that study, ranging from how the data is gathered, to the listings and ratings process, and shares the key fact that all providers - regardless of participation - will have webpages for their organization hosted with U.S. News. These webpages will lead the potential consumer either to a third party consumer broker, or to the provider organization itself, depending on whether that provider participated in the report. 

On May 10, 2022, the U.S. News & World Report “Best Senior Living” ratings will debut. This first edition of the new Report rates participating independent living, assisted living, memory care and CCRCs/ LPCs based on data gathered about the organization and through resident satisfaction surveys. Previous U.S. News listings and rankings only included nursing homes. Consumers looking for housing and care options as they age are the target audience for Best Senior Living. For the 2022 review, 127 CCRC/LPCs participated (only 40 not-for-profit CCRCs/LPCs).

To participate, providers pay a nominal fee based on population size (approximately $1,000) and provide resident and family contact information to a third party organization, Activated Insights. Activated Insights then surveys residents and family members regarding satisfaction. (Any organization with a demonstrated financial need may request a subsidized participation fee). U.S. News then uses the data to rank providers within their related categories. These rankings are published in print and online in the same way as the other U.S. News “Best of” publications.

Activated Insights will assist U.S. News in determining the ratings for each participating provider and rate them based on this review. The publication will list and rank participating providers, and consumers can search for and learn more about each provider. The listings include three tranches of organizations: (1) those that participated in the survey process and whose residents/family members submitted enough responses to be ranked (58% for 2022); (2) those that participated but the response rate was not high enough to be ranked; and (3) those that did not participate in the survey process.

There are a few caveats that providers should be aware of in considering participation. First, as noted, if a provider does not participate, they will be included in the listings but not rated in the Report. Second, and more important, U.S. News has created a webpage for every provider on their website, regardless of participation. These webpages have basic information about every provider, and participating providers (tranches one and two) will have their own contact information listed. However, if a provider chooses not to participate in the survey, the contact information refers consumers to a third-party consumer broker, Caring.com. Caring.com will then refer the consumer to a local provider who did pay the fee and submit the completed survey – i.e., a competitor of the non-participating provider. These webpages are already ‘live’ and active on the U.S. News website.

The U.S. News nursing home listings, which have been published for 13 years, report publicly available CMS data, specifically from Care Compare. When a reader clicks on the name of any nursing home, the reader is directed to Caring.Com, not to the nursing home’s website or contact information.

To enroll for the 2023 edition, providers may do so now by signing up here. Providers who choose to participate in the next edition will have to complete the data analytics process by November 2022. The related contact information on webpage for your organization on the U.S. News website would then be updated to reflect your organization’s own contact information with the publication of the next edition, published in May 2023.

LeadingAge has expressed concern about the process to U.S. News and to Activated Insights. The practices used for the listings and referrals are not transparent – specifically that the U.S. News hosted webpage of a CCRC/LPC that did not complete the survey takes the consumer to Caring.com instead of to the provider’s own organizational website. We have urged U.S. News to ensure that links for any organization whose name is listed direct consumers to that organization’s website, regardless of whether the organization participated in the survey. At a minimum, U.S. News should provide a clear explanation about the process to potential users of the listings.