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Pearl’s Choice: online info about retirement homes

Bojana NedicTORONTO – Pearl’s Choice, a website that provides Canadians with objective information about retirement residences, has expanded its coverage to 2,300 facilities, up from the 880 homes it launched with about a year ago.

Pearl’s Choice currently includes information for retirement homes in Canada, excluding Quebec. In the future, the site plans to include homes in Quebec; it is also seeking funding to add nursing homes to the database.

Bojana Nedic (pictured), co-founder and managing director, explained that Pearl’s Choice is akin to Travelocity or Hotels.com, in that it enables members of the public to rate and comment on the facilities – in this case, retirement residences.

In this way, the site gives Canadians a way of quickly assessing the services and quality of retirement residences in their communities, something that’s otherwise difficult to do without physically visiting the facilities.

Pearl’s Choice lets users know about the care options and amenities that are offered at different retirement homes – for example, whether they offer independent living, assisted living and trial stays.

Site users can quickly see if the residence has services like exercise rooms, computer rooms, places of worship, etc.

For their part, retirement residences can pay to post additional information and photos.

Any reviews of the facilities, however, are posted by members of the public and not people associated with retirement residences. Like online hotel sites, reviewers are able to give up to five stars, as well as leave extensive comments.

The retirement residences are also given the opportunity to respond to the comments.

To help users understand what kind of facilities they may need, Pearl’s Choice offers a quick quiz. “We ask three questions around their physical abilities, mental well-being and how much assistance is required with activities of daily living,” says Nedic. “Pearl’s Choice then takes these answers and responds with the type of care you should be looking for in a retirement home.

“We’ve also made it easier to share your choices with family and friends with just the click of a button.”

Nedic notes there are features that will appear in the near future. They include a Canada-wide resource centre, which aims to provide province specific information to Canadians so they can understand what resources are available to them in their communities. As an added bonus, users will also be able to find specific resources based on their current level of need, from planning for the future all the way through setting up full-time care.

“We’re also adding a retirement home comparison feature,” says Nedic, “so our users can see how their favorite homes compare to one another.” For more information, see www.pearlschoice.com.

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