we Know a Place API: Finding Senior Housing in California

The SOAP-based We Know a Place API incorporates their California senior housing directory into your application so people can search. Their services are free and they have connections to a wide range of housing types: assisted living, Alzheimers care, elder care, home care, residential care homes, retirement communities, hospice, and nursing homes.

We Know a Place is a referral service that, according to its blog, addresses the California aspect of  a massive need,

...this year, about 9 million people over the age of 65 need long-term care. By 2015, over 10,000,000 seniors in Americans need long-term care. Many seniors are taken care of at home by loved ones and friends that are sole caregivers.  This accounts for seventy percent of the elderly.  Some recent research done by the U.S. Dept. of Wellness and Human Services said that people who reach sixty-five most likely have a 40 percent of a chance of entering a nursing home and nearly ten percent of the individuals who enter a nursing home may remain there five plus years.

The reasons for a referral service become clear to anyone who hasn't encountered these issues already. As one blog post spells out, there are a massive array of different types of housing, as well as so many facilities that cater to each type.

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Comments (3)


Dear Greg,

You say in your article "Their services are free...”

While elder care placement agencies relentlessly repeat this claim in all their advertising, and have convinced the public (and you) that it is true, it is, however, quite misleading. While there is no explicit charge to the family seeking services, We Know a Place, like all placement agencies, charge the elder care facility a very large fee. This fee is normally 50% to 75% of the first month's rent. (We Know a Place charge 100%!) Elder care facilities WILL pass this expense on to the family in the form of a "community fee" or other charge, or in the form of higher monthly rent.

Worst of all, We Know a Place and other regional or national referral services (A Place for Mom comes to mind), have no direct knowledge of the quality or services of the elder care facilities they recommend. At least local placement agencies have some understanding of the quality and options available to families, but they, like all placement agencies, are strongly motivated to place their client as quickly as possible, without bothering to match the facility to the resident's needs. This conflict-of-interest often results in very bad outcomes, both for the resident and the facility.

Many governmental and nonprofit services exist that provide excellent placement recommendations at no charge to either the family or the facility. These include the Long-Term Care Ombudsman, Area Agencies on Aging and many nonprofit senior advocacy groups, all of which can be easily found on the Internet, or visited in person. A family that uses these free services—and not a private placement agency—can usually secure a substantial discount from the facility. These services have comprehensive lists of local facilities and current vacancies, and can provide contact information and unbiased advice on which facility and level of care is most appropriate. Facilities are more than happy to meet with prospective residents, describe their services and prices in detail, and give a tour. Visiting just a few facilities, and meeting caregivers, is the best way for families to find the best situation for their loved one.

You may want to update your article to more accurately reflect the situation that confronts families in need of elder care.

Thank you very much.


Frank Petrie (I work at a California Residential Care Facility for the Elderly)


Dear Frank.

Thank you for the detailed insightful comments. An important corrective that stands on its own. As in many instances, buyer beware, and especially beware "free." Someone is always paying, except in cases of nonprofit services or government services of the type you describe.