Fighting For The Elderly, Vulnerable and Injured.

Be Aware of Facility Online Reviews

On Behalf of | Jun 17, 2024 | Firm News

Choosing a skilled nursing or assisted living facility for a loved one is an important decision. Part of choosing the right place means considering factors like location, size, level of care, reputation, and more. To help make the decision, families often use internet searches to evaluate potential options. Online reviews of a facility, from Google, Yelp, and other websites, can show the experiences others have had at the facility, so a family can see what the care there is really like. This can be a good tool to see if a facility is the right fit.

But what if those online reviews end up misleading a family into thinking a facility offers great care, when in reality, the facility is hiding a history of neglect and abuse? Unfortunately, the truth is that some skilled nursing and assisted living facilities do attempt to mislead the public into believing they offer better care than they really do, and one way they do this is by manipulating the online reviews of their facility. If you plan to consult online reviews in your process of choosing a facility for your loved one, it is important to know how they can be misleading.

Online Rating Systems

When a member of the public searches a business on Google, Yelp, or another website that allows customers to provide reviews, the first thing they will see is the overall rating based on the average of all the reviews that have been posted for that business. On Google, this is a score out of five stars. A facility wants that average score to be as high as possible, as any business would, because that overall score communicates to the public that this is a reliable business that the public views favorably. After all, people tend to expect that even a good business can have one or two bad reviews, but if the overall rating based on multiple posted reviews is a 1 out of 5 stars, that suggests people repeatedly have negative experiences with that business, and customers viewing that result will not want to frequent that business.

The right thing for a business to do if it wants to attract customers with a high rating is to provide high quality service that will motivate the public to post good reviews. However, not all of them take the high road. Families looking for good care for their loved ones need to be aware that some skilled nursing and assisted living facilities use tricks to artificially inflate their online reviews, so they can have a high overall rating without actually providing high quality care. By being aware, families can avoid being tricked by these tactics.

How Facilities Bury Bad Reviews

Skilled nursing and assisted living facilities that do not provide high quality care, or that engage in care that constitutes elder abuse and neglect, do not want the public to know it. They want the public to believe their facility provides great care, so they can bring in more residents and make more money. When they receive negative reviews from the public, they want to hide those reviews to prevent them from getting in the way of bringing in new business. However, the policies of many online review websites like Google try to make it difficult for a business to remove bad reviews, so they have to cover those bad reviews in a different way.

In order to keep the business’s overall review rating high despite receiving bad reviews, a facility looking to deceive the public can counteract bad reviews by adding more good reviews. These facilities often have insiders, such as marketing personnel or other employees affiliated with the business, post positive 5-star reviews to artificially inflate the overall score. These reviews may say that the staff at the facility is friendly and helpful, or that the facility provides good care. To the public, these insider online reviews can be deceptive, because what the public does not know is that these reviews were not posted by neutral third-party customers who were genuinely happy with the care but instead by insiders of the facility who are trying to bury the bad reviews with good ones.

Members of the public who only look at the overall online rating will see a higher score and think the business has lots of positive reviews, when in reality, many of those reviews are fakes. This lets the facility continue to attract customers based on a false belief that they provide good care.

Luke Ensign

This review of the Park View Post Acute facility was written by the facility’s administrator. Kelly stimebert This review of the Cogir of Stock Ranch facility was written by the facility’s Manager of Marketing.

jenette mariano

This five-star review was posted by the Business Office Manager for the Cogir of Stock Ranch facility.

How Can You Protect Yourself From Being Misled By Insider Fake Reviews?

This trick works because members of the public do not know it is happening. A savvy customer who knows that some facilities inflate their reviews in this manner can make a more informed decision when choosing a care home.

First, do not stop at the overall online rating. Online review websites allow you to look through the individual reviews as well. If the overall rating for a facility is a 4.5 out of 5 stars, but there are multiple reviews suggesting that the care is very bad, then some of the five-star reviews may not be trustworthy. Consider that the overall rating may be inflated by false 5-star reviews.

Second, when you research different options for care, do not rely solely on online reviews. While online review websites can be a great resource for evaluating a facility, the possibility that not all of the reviews are real must be taken into account. Gather information about a facility from other sources too to protect yourself from these tactics. Talk to friends and family who may have experience with the facility. Ask the facility to take a tour in person. You can also go on the California Department of Public Health facility search for skilled nursing facilities at https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CHCQ/LCP/CalHealthFind/Pages/Home.aspx, or the Department of Social Services facility search for assisted living facilities at https://www.ccld.dss.ca.gov/carefacilitysearch/ to get more information about a facility.

It is a sad reality that a business in charge of caring for vulnerable members of our community cannot always be trusted to be honest with the public from the outset. By being aware of these tricks, however, you can make a more informed choice for your loved one.

If you have any questions or concerns about the care your loved one is receiving in a nursing home or residential care facility, please contact York Law Firm to get more information at 916-643-2200 or contact us online. York Law Firm helps nursing home residents and their families to stop elder neglect and to hold nursing homes accountable.

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