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The Hidden Cost of “Free” Senior Referral Agencies: What to Know

Steve Kuker

4 min read

Sep 8, 2023




The search for senior care is notoriously difficult. It’s fraught with a number of concerns, often conflicting, that range from your loved one’s happiness to your family’s budget. Once you’ve made the decision that finding a senior living community is necessary, you then have to wade through hundreds of options—over 200 in the greater Kansas City area alone.

When you’re in this situation, you’re likely to come across at least one assisted living referral program. These programs promise relief from the burden of finding senior care at no cost to you. But what are these agencies, really, and are they too good to be true?

What is an Assisted Living Referral Program?

Also known as assisted living placement agencies, assisted living referral programs advertise help for families in identifying which assisted living residence is best for their loved one. You often see their services offered for free. And when you’re facing the prospect of paying for senior care, a free service sounds especially attractive.

But there is a hidden cost to working with these agencies. If you’re wondering, “What’s the catch?” you’re in the right place. Today, we’re going to take a look at how these programs make their money and why they aren’t exactly the great public service they may make themselves out to be.

Top 3 Reasons Not to Use Free Referral Programs

1 - "Free" Referral Programs Get Paid By Senior Living Communities

Here’s how free referral programs work: They start by making strategic partnerships with senior communities in their area. Then, any time they successfully get a family to move in, that partner community pays them. While the referral agency may claim to "vet" these senior living options, at the end of the day, they are for-profit businesses, and they only make money when the assisted living community does. 

What’s the Alternative?

Senior Care Consulting works for your interests, not the interests of senior care communities. When you work with us, you’re hiring a partner to work for you, and you only. Because we're not motivated by upselling you or quickly placing your loved one in a community to meet a monthly quota, we are better equipped to help you find the best solution for your situation.

2 - You Don’t Get to Review All of Your Options

Due to the nature of the partnerships they make, free referral agencies won't tell you about any community they don't have an agreement with. That means your perfect senior living option may be out there, but you never learn about it. In the worst cases, you’re simply handed a list of “approved” communities in their network and sent on your way to do all the research and heavy lifting on your own.

With Limited Options, Care Can’t Truly Be Personalized

The range of choices you have when it comes to choosing senior care for a loved one can be staggering. This variety can be overwhelming when you’re going it alone, but with the right partner on your side, it can be a good thing. It means that your loved one can find care that truly matches their needs, which is crucial both for their physical and mental well-being.

How to Explore Every Avenue for Senior Care

At Senior Care Consulting, we take time to understand the entirety of your situation and carefully curate recommendations that take all of your options into account. With thorough geriatric assessments, in-depth local market research, and a personal approach, we go the extra mile to make sure your loved one finds the perfect fit.

What’s important is this: We work for you and prioritize your interests—not the interests of the senior care communities.

3 - Your Data is Shared with Lots of Senior Communities

These days, it’s already taxing trying to secure our personal information. We’re bombarded constantly by robocalls and phishing scams as it is. What many families don’t realize when they choose a free referral service is that their name, contact information, and location will be shared with any senior communities in the area that are deemed a potential match.

Now, while these care communities may not be out to steal your identity, they will start calling and emailing you—a lot. And it’ll happen very quickly, as the free placement service wants to get paid for their referral as soon as possible. 

So, while you’re in an already emotionally difficult situation, you may be pressured by constant phone calls from sales reps. The last thing you need is a senior community repeatedly pressuring you while you’re trying to carefully weigh every option.

Bottom Line: Senior Care Consulting is Your Best Bet

The search for senior care is never easy, but there are ways to make the process easier, more personalized, and better for everyone involved. That’s the goal of Senior Care Consulting. We strive to find the right care option for you, taking the weight off your shoulders as you navigate this emotionally difficult time. 

That way, you can focus more on helping your loved one make the transition when the time comes—instead of fending off pushy sales reps or wearing yourself thin researching every community in Kansas City. To learn more about what we do and how we do it, contact our local team today!

Senior Care Consultants You Can Trust in Kansas City

We’re proud to be Kansas City’s top senior placement service, working within your family’s needs, preferences, and budget to find the ideal match. We’re with you every step of the way, from initial assessments to touring the top communities on your list to move-in day assistance. Put a true partner on your side in the search for senior care by calling us at (913) 945-2800 or reaching out online.

Steve Kuker

4 min read

Sep 8, 2023





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