You’ve done it. You’ve taken the leap and decided your aging parent would be happier and healthier in a senior living community. And good news: They’re on board! Well, kind of. They want to see where they might be living first, and you have to admit, you’d feel better if you could, too.
Unfortunately, we are living in COVID times. In-person tours just aren’t happening due to safety concerns.
So … here’s another leap, but this one only requires you to get up from your living room couch and grab your laptop or phone. Since last April, Five Star Senior Living has been offering virtual tours, and they are virtually as good as the in-person kind.
Families enjoy senior living virtual tours
How can that be, you wonder? “Families are pleasantly surprised at how much they get out of a virtual tour,” said Kasey Matthews Krugman, sales counselor at Morningside of Bellgrade, a Five Star community located in Midlothian, Virginia. Krugman, who has conducted 100 virtual tours, has received a lot of positive feedback about them, noting that virtual tours give families what they want most from an in-person tour: a firsthand look at the people, surroundings and amenities their loved one would experience. “I was giving one tour where an adult son was watching from home with his 10-year-old daughter,” Krugman recalled, “and the daughter kept saying, ‘Wow!’ and ‘Oh, my God!’”
Individual tours are offered using FaceTime, the phone app, but most tours involve multiple family members using Zoom. “That’s a big advantage of virtual tours,” Krugman noted. “Anyone from anywhere can participate.”
How do virtual tours work, exactly?
It’s pretty simple. Find a senior living community near you and fill out a virtual tour request form telling us when you’d like to have your tour. We’ll get in touch to learn more about what you’d like to see so we can tailor your tour to your exact needs. (“That’s another advantage of going virtual,” Krugman noted. “Tours can take less time because they are laser-focused on what matters to you most.”)
The day of the tour, you log in—for Zoom tours, your sales counselor will have made sure all family members have the invitation and login information. The tour begins with meeting your Five Star sales counselor, who will want to learn more about your specific needs so they can customize your tour further.
And then you’re off! You take an actual tour just as you would in person, starting at the front door. Your sales counselor carries their phone or iPad (iPads offer wider views than other devices) and narrates along the way. You see everything that interests you, like the neighborhood, a residence, the dining area—even saying hello to some possible future neighbors.
You can also meet team members, including the executive director, nursing staff, chef, director of resident care—whoever you’ve told us you’d like to meet. Your visit wraps up by “sitting down” again (even though you’re already sitting down!) to recap with your sales counselor and answer any questions you may have.
And, if you’ve asked to sample our five-star dining menu, we’ll offer ways to make that happen! “I gave a tour for a family of Italian descent, and after the tour I brought baked goodies from our chef to their mom’s home,” Krugman recalls. “On the way there, I also stopped at an Italian restaurant and picked up some cannoli.” Krugman then visited with the woman (wearing a mask, of course), getting to know her a bit more so her move-in could be even more personalized.
More pros than cons (way more!) of virtual tours
We’ve all missed the in-person human touch during COVID, and we at Five Star are no exception. Virtual tours, however, have been hugely successful, and for good reason:
- They’re safe for everyone
- They can be more convenient to schedule
- They allow family members from multiple locations to participate
- They can focus on what matters most to you most, making the best use of your valuable time
Good news during a pandemic?
Given the advantages of virtual tours—most notably the ability for any family member to participate from anywhere, coast to coast—Krugman thinks they’re here to stay. “We’ve learned a lot during COVID, and one positive thing we’ve learned is that we’ll very likely be using virtual tours in the future,” she said. If you’d like to schedule a virtual tour, find a community near you and fill out an interest form. We’ll be in touch promptly.