News & Press Releases

Study Shows Only ‘Very Satisfied’ Residents Tend to Recommend Seniors Housing Communities to Others

Press Room – 2009 NIC Press Releases

Study Shows Only ‘Very Satisfied’ Residents Tend to Recommend
Seniors Housing Communities to Others

Wins GE Award for Best Research Paper

Contact: Renee Tilton, (410) 626-0805 or

Annapolis, Md. – The National Investment Center for the Seniors Housing & Care Industry (NIC) has announced the winning entry from its annual call for applied research papers. The white paper, which is printed in the 2009 Seniors Housing & Care Journal along with other top contenders, analyzed the results of research seeking to find how satisfaction levels moved seniors housing residents to recommend their communities to others. The authors, who won the GE Award for Best Research Paper, were recognized in front of 1,600 industry leaders at the recent 19th Annual NIC Conference in Chicago, Ill.

The winning paper, “Satisfied Residents Won’t Recommend Your Community, But Very Satisfied Residents Will,” presented the case that the willingness of residents to recommend their community to others was correlated to the length of time a community was open and the residents’ overall satisfaction with it. In addition, the article showed how prospective residents learn about independent living communities and the relationship of resident satisfaction with 74 physical and 45 nonphysical community attributes.

The research and writing was conducted by four individuals: Margaret A. Wylde, Ph.D., president and CEO, ProMatura Group, LLC; Edie R. Smith, senior vice president and director of research, ProMatura Group, LLC; David Schless, president, American Seniors Housing Association; and Rachelle Bernstecker, vice president, Government Affairs, American Seniors Housing Association.

Using data from a survey with 1,042 independent living residents, key findings from the study showed:

  • As the age of the community increased, a significantly greater proportion of new residents learned about it from those living at the community and fewer learned about it from advertising or direct mail marketing.
  • Very satisfied residents (74 percent) are almost four times more likely to recommend their community to a friend than those who are just satisfied (19 percent).
  • Nonphysical attributes – such as policies, personnel, programming and services – have a significantly greater impact on resident satisfaction than a community’s physical attributes – including size and type of residences, building type and structure, and amenities.
  • High satisfaction is related to five attributes of the community: quality of daily life (cultural, musical, arts/crafts, entertainment and social opportunities); dining flexibility (quality of food, variety of menu items and the services and times available for dining); quality of personnel; personal control (privacy and sense of safety and security); and comfort (ease of making friends and the sense that the residence is one’s home).

“Studying both physical and nonphysical attributes is important,” said winning author Wylde, “because once the community is built, its physical attributes are difficult to change without significant investment. On the other hand, the nonphysical attributes can be continually improved with relatively minor investment.” In the paper, Wylde and team recommended the ways communities can improve these nonphysical attributes.

Now in its 12th year, the peer-reviewed Journal, published annually by NIC, provides a platform for applied researchers to get recognition for their work on subjects dealing with seniors housing and care. The author(s) of the first prize article receive a plaque and $5,000 (total) cash award, sponsored by GE Healthcare Financial Services. This year, since Dr. Wylde is a member of the Journal’s Editorial Board, the monetary portion of the award was returned to NIC and will be used to stimulate interest in the Journal from researchers in graduate school or those just starting their careers.

“The importance of the Journal is catching on and we received more white paper submissions this year than any other,” said Robert G. Kramer, president of NIC. “Not only were we impressed by the diversity of the articles that were selected by the editorial board to include in the Journal, but we believe they have immediate relevance for seniors housing management and broad implications for the field.”

Linda Hollinger-Smith, R.N., Ph.D., FAAN, director, Mather LifeWays Institute on Aging, served as managing editor of the Journal and oversaw the process of selecting the winning paper. In addition to Wylde, the two other editors were Joan Hyde, Ph.D., Ivy Hall Senior Living, Inc. and David A. Lindeman, Ph.D., Center for Technology and Aging.

Along with the winning paper, a special commendation was given to Rosalie A Kane, Ph.D., and Lois J. Cutler, Ph.D., University of Minnesota, for their paper on “Promoting Homelike Characteristics and Eliminating Institutional Characteristics in Community-Based Residential Care Settings.”

Topics of the other papers included in this year’s Journal are: “The Restorative Qualities of an Activity-Based, Third Place Café for Seniors,” “The Utility of a Falls Risk Self-Assessment Tool,” “Preparing for the Future: Trends in Continuing Care Retirement Communities,” “An Exploratory Look at Preferences for Seven Long-Term Care Options” and “Addressing the Home as an Integrated Part of the Solution to Long-Term Care in America.”

Copies of the 2009 Seniors Housing & Care Journal are available through NIC for $95. Limited quantities of the Journal from previous years are available for $50. To order, visit

About NIC

Founded in 1991, the National Investment Center for the Seniors Housing & Care Industry is a nonprofit education and research organization providing information about business strategy and capital formation for the senior living industry. NIC is the leading provider of historical and trend data on the industry through its NIC MAP® Data and Analysis Service that tracks properties in the 100 largest metropolitan areas and its Key Financial Indicators™ (KFIs) that report nationwide statistics. Proceeds from its annual conference and other events are used to fund data and research on issues of importance to lenders, investors, developers, operators, and others interested in meeting the housing and care needs of America’s seniors. For more information, visit or call (410) 267-0504.

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