Keep In Mind Blog

No Sale For You! A Devastating Senior Tour


A Cautionary Tale of how NOT to give a tour.

A Cautionary Tale of how NOT to give a tour.

Part THREE of a Three part series. 

In part one of this three part tale, I described the uncomfortable scene my Mom and I endured, when we showed up unannounced at an Assisted Living Community, seeking a tour. Our tour guide wore no name badge. And never asked our names either.

As the story continued in part two, I shared how I’d mentally dubbed our tour guide ‘no name’ and how she’d been rudely dissmissive to a lovely resident.

The story continues………….


My Mother and I ascended the stairs to the second floor, where ‘no name’ stood waiting. This entire experience thus far, had been void of pleasantries. She’d asked no questions about our ‘story’ or why we may be looking at an Assisted Living Community. No query like, “How did you hear about us?” or “Do you live in the area?”

During my career, I’ve had opportunities to give countless tours. I know what the industry norms are and certainly know what the sales expectations are. I’m well versed at the ‘Discovery’ process; where gathering info while simultaneously establishing trust and forging a relationship is crucial.

Understandably, this impromptu tour was way out of the comfort zone of ‘no name’. Clearly, her role with this organization was not in the sales department. However, even from her position at the front desk, she’d been an unwelcoming representative.

When monthly rents exceed $5,000 and the shiny brochures describe a lifestyle filled with fabulous food and activity opportunities; the consumer has an expectation of what the ‘experience’ should ‘look’ and ‘feel’ like.

And, that ‘experience’ begins the moment someone crosses the threshold of the front door.  Although each person within the building has a primary role to perform;it’s a prudent operational idea to have all department heads and even caregiving staff well versed in ‘tour basics’.

No one expects the sales staff to be in the building 24-7. Therefore, a ‘tour tree’ is typically established giving other members of the ‘team’ the opportunity to be trained in the art of the tour. All personnel should be ready, willing and able to represent the building if necessary.

Our ‘voyage’ continued on the second floor, where ‘no name’ guided us down a long hall. It was then, I asked her about the “occupancy rate” of the building. Oooops, I was certain I’d blown my incognito cover.  I thought she would realize I was an industry insider as most people would’ve asked “how many people live here?”

Nope, ‘no name’ responded that they were at 52%. “Really?” I followed up. “Have you recently opened?”  “We’ve been open 5 years,” she proclaimed as she guided us into the Wellness Center.

52% occupied? Their building was positioned approximately 200 yards from a shiny new hospital that had opened approximately 18 months earlier. I pondered this unfortunate statistic and bit my tongue, to stop from uttering, something snarky.

Once inside the Wellness Center, I quickly surveyed my surroundings. The treadmill was shiny and pristine. The recumbent bike next to it was equally as glossy. Armed with the info. that this place was 5 years old, I quickly deduced that clearly this Wellness Center wasn’t being used.

Like, ever….

‘no name’ spoke in a hushed voice as she pointed towards a closed door off to the right. Explaining that Bill was with a massage client. Okay, I thought. Finally, something to get excited about. As a Holistic Dementia Care Solutions Expert, I was momentarily energized by the idea of residents getting massage therapy on site. “So, the residents can get massages,” I smiled, “What a wonderful service.”

She gazed at me quizzically. Her blank stare furthered my confusion. With Mom closely by my side, I asked “Well, who is Bill giving a massage, if it’s not a resident?”

“Bill rents that space and his clients from the community come here for services.”


I was getting tired of this charade of a ‘tour’. And, since I knew this would never be a place my parents would step foot in again, my verbal ‘filter’ was now becoming fractured. “So, you have an outside vendor, who sees clients that don’t live here and they come into this building?” I furrowed my brow.

I continued; “Yea, I don’t like that at all.”

You would’ve thought I’d punched ‘no name’ in the stomach. And, for a quick second, I thought maybe I had. “Why?” she asked

“Because, we’re on the second floor which means these strangers are coming deep into this building and they don’t live here.”

Mom shifted nervously, while still looking fabulous in her soft pink sweat suit.

“Well, there’s never been any problems.” ‘no name’ assured us.


Although the tour continued and she showed us a potential room, it didn’t matter. She’d already lost us at ’hello’By this point her descriptive words of the closet space and room dimensions were merely white noise.

I could tell even my Mother had mentally checked out of this experience.

Once we were back in our car in the parking lot; there was a brief moment of silence as both my Mom and I digested this unpleasant experience. I assured her over and over that this would never be home for either her or my Father.

However, I could clearly see my 86 year old Mother’s brain trying to make sense of this situation; as she realized that this possible option, was no longer an option.

My heart ached for Mom. It certainly can’t be easy to face the cold hard facts of aging herself while simultaneously being a caregiver to her husband of 61 years with Dementia.  Now, she had to grapple with wondering what their future housing selections may be.

As an industry insider who takes great pride in delivering quality service, training and operational solutions to those I serve; I was embarrassed for this building. And, it made me wonder how many other experiences like this were playing out across our country for families and folks who were exploring their options?

Who’s looking out for them?



As consumers; we need to ban together and demand better.


Dementia Solutions Expert & President of Keep In Mind, Inc. specializing in holistic Dementia care solutions. An engaging Keynote presenter, audiences applaud Belks passion for advocacy and common sense care solutions. She's the author of the 360 Dementia Care Operational manual for professional providers. And she's developed the workplace wellness initiative; Caregiving 411, for those who balance care & career. Recognized for implementing large-scale programs for those with Dementia; She's developed Fitness with Friends, Memory Magz & Memory Mealz.

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