Virtual Tours for Senior Living: Learning About a Community Via Technology

By Kim Acosta, Managing Editor

The need for a safe and secure environment for seniors doesn’t stop, especially amid extreme circumstances like coronavirus (COVID-19). “In order to make room for coronavirus patients, hospital patients needing less-intensive care may be moved to assisted living or long-term care communities,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom told the Los Angeles Times.

Senior living communities are instituting specific protocols provided by federal, state and local guidelines to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Learn more about their response plan for COVID-19.

Usually, a tour of an assisted living community or nursing home is a must before deciding to move in. But occasionally, time, distance—and in extreme circumstances—a pandemic like coronavirus can prevent an in-person visit.

How Virtual Assisted Living Tours Work

By the end of March 2020, about 90% of A Place for Mom’s senior living partner communities were offering virtual tours only. Government guidelines advised many senior communities to only admit “essential” visitors, such as medical professionals.

“Assisted living communities, independent living communities, nursing homes and other types of senior living are connecting with families virtually in a variety of ways,” says Sue Johansen, Vice President of Strategic Customers at A Place for Mom.

Pre-recorded tours

These often feature interviews with staff, residents and/or family members of residents as well as video of accommodations, grounds, meals and activities. These can be emailed or shared by A Place for Mom Senior Living Advisor.

Virtual meetings

“Communities are setting up virtual meetings so they can get meet families and get to know a little more about their situation and the senior,” says Johansen. “Having this ability allows the family and the community to connect at a very human level.”

Tours via FaceTime, Skype and other platforms

“Sales managers show families Enlivant Senior Living Communities in real time via Zoom,” says Cece Credille, Senior Vice President for Quality Services at Enlivant, a Chicago-based senior living organization with hundreds of communities across 26 states. “They can have a live conversation while they’re showing families around via video,” she says. “It’s very interactive.”

Questions to Ask During Your Senior Living Tour

Whether you tour in-person or via video, it’s important to be prepared and ask the right questions, such as:

  1. What is your staff-to-resident ratio?
  2. What kind of experience and training does your staff possess?
  3. Can staff administer medications?
  4. Do you have any experience with the specific care needs my loved one requires?
  5. Are all services included in the monthly fee? If not, what additional services are available and how much do they cost?

Find more questions in our Assisted Living Residence Checklist.