Virtual Tours of Assisted Living: Why In Person Is Still Best

By Michelle Seitzer / Posted on 10 January 2012

Choosing a hotel sight unseen is always a risk. Thanks to virtual tours, online photo galleries, and guest reviews, there are fewer surprises before you arrive. But these tools are not perfect: guest reviews may be biased and pictures can be deceiving.

Ever taken a virtual tour of assisted living?

Currently, a LinkedIn group of senior living professionals are debating the merits and drawbacks of previewing a potential community this way. Choosing assisted living can be an overwhelming process, especially if there are a number of options in your area. In this way, a virtual tour could be helpful in ruling out certain communities that don’t appeal to you or your loved one upon viewing the photos.

However, you shouldn’t discount a place simply based on appearance alone. The décor and furnishings may be outdated, but the community may have a wonderful atmosphere and dedicated, competent staff members (things you cannot see or measure in a photo). Conversely, the pictures may reveal well-landscaped grounds and beautifully decorated common rooms, but the care may be less than desirable, the staff unfriendly, and the residents reclusive.

When choosing assisted living, ask around (word-of-mouth referrals are priceless) and be sure to visit in person; follow these tips for a successful tour.

There are 4 Comments about this post

  1. Great topic! One of our clients, Willow Valley Retirement Communities, is one of the largest destination CCRCs in the nation. With two campuses, 8 independent living communities and 4 supportive living communities, it can be hard for online visitors to orient themselves.

    So when we re-designed their website in 2010, we created an interactive site map that functions as a virtual tour. Photos provide a motivating (and accurate) view of each community.

    We chose not to do fancy panoramic images because we favored images that would load quickly, not require Flash, and would be easy on older users to manipulate on their own. An added benefit is that our client can more rapidly add pics of enhancements, such as a new fresh food marketplace.

    You can check out the the virtual tour/interactive map at http://www.willowvalleyretirement.com/map/index.html.


    on 15 January 2012 / 6:13 PM

  2. Thanks, Erin! I think it’s an important topic to explore as more communities do more with their websites and digital/social media. I am familiar with Willow Valley; I live near it now and grew up going to their family resort year after year.

    The interactive site map is a great idea! And doing images that would load quickly and not require Flash is also a smart move. That’s excellent.

    Thanks for sharing the link — I’ll check it out now. Appreciate you stopping by the blog and sharing your comments, Erin!


    on 16 January 2012 / 12:24 PM

  3. Ruben says,

    The Better Business Bureau is another excellent way to check a if the rating is satisfactory. This unbiased measure will enhance your search for a community.


    on 31 January 2012 / 5:10 PM

  4. Great suggestion, Ruben. Thanks for sharing it!


    on 31 January 2012 / 5:55 PM


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