U.S. News & World Report — which issues influential rankings of hospitals, nursing homes, universities and other businesses — is turning to senior living.
The publication plans to rank U.S. senior living communities based on standardized consumer input gathered through surveys created by Activated Insights.
Activated Insights is the organization that is also behind the data gathering and analysis for the annual Best Workplaces in Aging Services list that appears in Fortune magazine.
With separate rankings for independent living, assisted living, memory care and continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs), the U.S. News rankings hold the potential to become a widely utilized tool for consumers. More than 40 million people visit the U.S. News website on a monthly basis, many of them seeking information “during moments when they are most in need of expert advice and motivated to act on that advice directly on our platforms,” according to the publication.
In addition to regional “best community” rankings, there are plans to generate a list of the best communities in the nation, Activated Insights CEO Dr. Jacquelyn Kung told Senior Housing News. The first quarter of 2022 is the target date to release the first senior living rankings.
“Finding quality senior communities and care providers is a critical decision many families have to make,” said Chad Smolinski, senior vice president of U.S. News, in a press release. “By collaborating with Activated Insights on the Best Senior Living survey, we aim to better support seniors and their families in finding the right communities for their needs.”
To create the survey and the rankings methodology, Activated Insights has been working closely with senior living executives, including the leaders of some of the largest providers in the nation, as well as industry associations such as Argentum and LeadingAge, Kung told SHN. Other associations will be weighing in with their thoughts shortly.
Brookdale Senior Living (NYSE: BKD), LCS, Sunrise Senior Living, Five Star Senior Living (Nasdaq: FVE), HumanGood, Holiday Retirement and Juniper Communities are among the companies that have signed up to participate. More than 2,000 communities already are slated to take part in the first year.
In addition, the CEOs of the companies listed above — and several others — have created a council that will evaluate the first year of data and consider a proposed go-forward methodology for generating the rankings.
“I’m excited to bring positive media attention to our industry, and position our company to get good attention as well,” Jeff Fischer, CEO of MBK Senior Living, said in a video testimonial on the website for the U.S. News initiative.
For the first year, scoring will be based entirely on the customer surveys, with a focus on using the survey findings to highlight what communities are known for in their listing on the U.S. News website, Kung said. For instance, participating communities might be recognized in tiers such as “Best” and “Recognized.”
Communities that participate in the U.S. News initiative will also receive branding elements that can be used in consumer marketing, and benchmarking so that they can discover how their survey results stack up against peers.
U.S. News also plans to assign a journalist to cover the senior living sector more regularly, to help clear up consumer confusion about the different types of senior living communities and how they are distinct from nursing homes, according to Kung.
The basic cost to participate — $995 for smaller providers and $1,495 for larger providers — covers the survey administration, she noted, emphasizing that neither Activated Insights nor U.S. News intends to make a profit from the fees. Communities that offer multiple levels of care will be ranked separately for IL, AL and memory care. Communities will not be ranked numerically on a local basis.
The rankings ultimately should help consumers while also benefiting the industry, Kung said.
“We don’t want to pit one community against another — we want to raise all boats,” she said.