Consumer Guide: Senior Living Consultants/Brokers

Senior Living Consultants/Brokers

A senior living consultant or broker is a professional who helps families and seniors find suitable housing and care options. Some, not all, may have knowledge and experience in the senior care industry.  All should be familiar with the various types of senior housing options, such as independent living, assisted living, memory care, and nursing homes.

There are two financial models under which senior living consultants operate:

1. Fee-based Consultants: These companies may include a geriatric care manager, attorney, or other company specializing in senior housing. These consultants charge a fee directly to the client for services rendered. 

2. “No-Cost” Consultants: The vast majority of nationally known companies and local consultants are compensated by the actual retirement community. In general, these companies do not charge the client. Instead, they operate as a broker for these communities.

When working with a senior living consultant it is important to understand their experience and level of expertise. Be sure to ask.

Tips From the Experts: Key Factors to Consider When Working with a Senior Living Consultant

Note:  Items listed below as a NAOSA Gold Standard of Professional Practice™ are business practices required for NAOSA professional membership. For more details, please visit the NAOSA Consumer Guides page.

Be sure that a thorough needs analysis is completed before making recommendations (NAOSA Gold Standard of Professional Practice™)

All NAOSA members are required to perform a thorough needs analysis. This is important for a number of different reasons:

1: Personalization: Each senior has unique needs, preferences, and circumstances. A thorough needs analysis enables the senior living consultant to gather information about the client's health, lifestyle, social support, finances, and other factors that may impact their housing and care decisions. With this information, the consultant can tailor their recommendations to the client's specific needs and goals, rather than providing a one-size-fits-all solution.

2: Accuracy: Without a thorough needs analysis, a senior living consultant may not have all the information needed to make accurate recommendations. For example, they may recommend a community that is not appropriate for the client's care needs, or suggest a facility that is outside of the client's budget. By conducting a thorough needs analysis, the consultant can ensure that their recommendations are based on accurate and complete information.

3: Trust and Confidence: Senior living decisions can be emotionally charged and stressful for seniors and their families. A senior living consultant who takes the time to conduct a thorough needs analysis demonstrates that they are committed to understanding the client's situation and providing personalized recommendations. This can build trust and confidence in the consultant's expertise and recommendations.

4: Legal and Ethical Requirements: In some cases, senior living consultants may be required by law or professional ethics to perform a thorough needs analysis before making recommendations. For example, in some states, senior living consultants are required to conduct an assessment of a client's health status and care needs before recommending a long-term care facility.

Ask how the consultant is compensated

Knowing how an individual or company is compensated is important because it ensures transparency and honesty between the senior living consultant and the client. This allows the client to make informed decisions based on the information provided and prevents any potential conflicts of interest that may arise from undisclosed compensation arrangements.

Full disclosure can also help build trust between the senior living consultant and the client. If a consultant is upfront about how they are being compensated, it can demonstrate that they are acting in the client's best interest and not solely focused on making a profit..

The consultant should guarantee that all referrals to a community are based on need and not compensation (NAOSA Gold Standard of Professional Practice™)

This is especially important in the "no-cost" business model. Oftentimes, a client will have a specific need that a consultant's network of communities cannot fulfill. If this occurs, you want to make sure the consultant will refer outside of their network of communities, regardless of compensation. This is a requirement of all NAOSA members. If you are using a non-member, be sure that this is agreed to upfront and in-writing.

Are you a professional in the senior living/consultant field?
We welcome your constructive input to assist in the protection of all consumers. Please contact us.

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The NAOSA Guarantee

NAOSA requires members to act in utmost good faith when working with clients. Members must agree to act in a fiduciary manner in a way that the member reasonably believes to be in the best interest of the client. In addition to compliance with all federal and state regulations, each professional member of the National Association of Senior Advocates must also follow and act in accordance with the NAOSA Consumer Guides published herein.  Members who are found not in compliance with these standards will be censured, with membership subject to revocation.


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