Friday, October 3, 2014

Videos of My Road Scholar/Elderhostel Adventure Programs

I've participated in 38 Road Scholar/Elderhostel programs and have uploaded 27 movies of these programs on YouTube. Here's the link to my Road Scholar playlist.  Click on the icon at the top left of the black box before the word "PLAYLIST" to see the titles of all the available videos...

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Yelp! Sucks

I've often relied on Orbitz hotel reviews and also Amazon product reviews to guide me (and I've written numerous reviews for Orbitz and Amazon), but Yelp never was on my personal radar, probably through ignorance on my part.  But a few months after we moved Mom into the Alexian Brothers Hospice Residence faculty, my sister happened upon a Yelp review for the facility, and the review was a complete hatchet job. Since at least one of us had been at the facility every day for months, we were appalled at the inaccuracies and lies contained in the negative review. Also, it was very poorly written, confusingly worded,  and extensively employed distortion, outright lies, and name-calling. 

We both felt bad, and eventually over the four months that Mom was at the facility, we both grew more and more angry and dismayed over the inaccurate portrayal of the facility.  I also talked with some of the staff (who were unaware of the bad review) and they were also dismayed and immediately able to determine that the author was someone whose loved one had only been there one night and had been told to leave several other facilities due to constant complaining and criticism.  So after Mom died, I signed up for a Yelp account and wrote a positive review based on our experiences

Much to my dismay, when I checked my review a few weeks later, it had been removed by Yelp! Actually, I found it later at the bottom of the page, when I followed a link to an "unapproved review." Unapproved? Huh! I researched a bit more. Some computer algorithm had decided my glowing review was fabricated - yet the fabricated and untruthful negative review had been approved? WTF! More investigation discovered a Forbes article as well as many others, and even websites dedicated to the unfairness of Yelp's process for inclusion/exclusion of reviews. And there's no way to contact a human referee to arbitrate the computer algorithm's decision!

So I filled out a form I finally located on Yelp's site and I said this:

Crap! My review is not recommended due to software? My mom was in this residence for 18 weeks and I spent quite a while on the review! It is truthful and I am not an employee! The only other review, which was from a disgruntled customer and based on 1 night in the hospice, was accepted? What's up with that? I am astonished and dismayed at Yelp. I thought it was a good service but now I have real doubts!

A few days later got this automatic reply:

Thanks for writing.
We use automated software designed to recommend the reviews that will be most helpful to the Yelp community. The software applies the same standards to every business and every review, and we can’t manually override the results for any single business or review. If we could, people might think that we favor some businesses over others.
Nevertheless, it’s always helpful to get feedback – we are continually working to improve the algorithm so that it can recommend the best reviews for our community.

-The Yelp Support Team

So Yelp! is again off my radar and relegated to the heap of other crap websites out to make money for someone rather than provide an accurate service for consumers.

Alexian Brothers Hospice Residence in Elk Grove Village, Illinois

The following is a review I submitted to Yelp after my mother had spent the final 18 weeks of her life in this facility.  I was dismayed to discover a few weeks later, that Yelp had moved my review to a section called "Not approved" based on some computer.


  My Mom was a resident for 18 weeks, so my sister and/or I were daily visitors to the Alexian Brothers Hospice Residence and became very conversant with the facility. The staff (doctors, nurses, aides, housekeeping, and volunteers) are all friendly and helpful and willingly interact with patients and visitors. All are willing to spend whatever time is necessary to answer your questions and fulfill your requests. The staff-patient ratio is far smaller than at a nursing home or on a hospital floor (there are only 16 rooms in the facility which is only a year old) and all personnel are specially trained for hospice care.

The rooms are very large, private, and well-appointed.  The beds are queen size with state-of-the art power beds, allowing for comfort for bedridden patients.  They even encourage you to get onto the bed to be close to the patient.  Each room is spacious, well-lit with six windows, and offers views outside at the lush landscaped campus.  Each room has three chairs, several tables and a large window seat and ledge for photo frames, books, flowers, etc., as well as wall shelves for photo albums and books.  The room also has a closet, a large washroom with handicap shower, and a small "kitchen" area with sink and mini-fridge.  A ceiling fan over the bed and thermostat on the wall allow for individual heat/cool preferences.  The rooms are pretty well soundproofed so little outside traffic noise can be heard, and since there is far less hustle and bustle compared to a hospital or nursing home, there is little commotion from the hall.  When the daily hall vacuuming occurs, closing the thick door shuts out that noise.  A huge wall-mounted LCD TV screen offers over a hundred satellite channels as well as dozens of music channels.

 Meals are ordered from the hospital menu that allows any choices you want for any meal.  Mom was paralyzed, so if we weren't there to assist with feeding, the staff assisted Mom with the meal. There is a fully equipped kitchen that families can use, either cooking meals from scratch or bringing food in to eat there.  Volunteers make delicious cookies daily for all who wish to partake.

There are two large sitting areas on either side of the main entrance, one with a fireplace and the other with a piano. Music therapy is provided, with piano music in the lobby area and a singer/guitarist who goes room to room.  Two family washrooms are available in the hallways in each wing of the building, and private consultation rooms allow for meetings with doctors and social workers, etc. Laundry service is available daily, and each resident's laundry is washed separately.

There is a large parking lot and the facility is located just seconds from the Biesterfield Road on/off ramps from Route 53/I-290.

A lovely chapel seats about 20 with windows on three sides, looking out over the lovely landscaping, and several chaplains visit regularly.

The cost of $350 a day is all-inclusive.  When compared with nursing homes (and adding in all the extras that nursing homes charge for seemingly every little thing) the cost is comparable, but you probably wouldn't have a private room in the nursing home and the patient/nurse ratio would be  much higher.  The peace of mind and level of extraordinary care provided to the residents cannot be given a price tag, and I highly recommend Hospice Residence for those who can afford it.