A Place Like Home


Finding appropriate housing for the elderly can be an overwhelmingly stressful, anxiety-producing process without appropriate sources of help. A Place Like Home is designed to be an easy-to-use resource for individuals, families, social workers, and other advocates to help bring some ease to a difficult decision-making process.

Who will use it?

There will be few people in the United States who will not need to find an assisted living, nursing home, memory care, group home, or other alternative housing situation for someone at some point in their lives. Whether for temporary rehabilitation or permanent residence, families and professionals will use this to conduct research on housing options in their preferred area.


Right now there are few to no online resources that compile alternative housing options similar to a traditional real estate application. Government agencies such as Medicare.gov and state agencies are not user friendly. The only options are to  search text lists of individual housing options on government websites or contract an intermediary service, which requires a user to provide their phone number and talk to an advisor. Additionally, these intermediary services have been shown to have some conflict of interest and the user must take caution before engaging their services.


I was somewhat astonished to find that there is very little useful technology available to aid in the search for alternative housing. Other than state and county resources, people seem to be left to finding resources via word of mouth or physical visits. At the very least we should be able to provide photos of the available housing and residential units, with factual information regarding facilities and available services.

After exploring this topic further it became apparent that my idea of an alternative housing locator to include group homes, assisted-living, and nursing homes was too much of a behemoth for one person to tackle all at once. The project has been scaled back to focus only on housing for the elderly. Further iterations will include other groups in need.


User Flow

Users will likely be under some amount of stress during this entire process, so my goal is to make things as simple and clear as possible.

When opening the app, they are offered the choice to create an account and/or allow location access. There is an explanation upfront on the advantages of creating an account but it is possible to use the app without designating either of those choices. There is an alert when they are leaving the app for state resources and external links and I've included a sign-out confirmation.

Diagram illustration the user flow for the app.

Usability Testing

I tested mid-fidelity screens on 6 users and received valuable feedback, some of which I incorporated into the current UI. I know better than to say "final".

The tasks given were:

  • search for their choice of alternative home
  • filter by amenities
  • save a search
  • access outside resources

One user was confused by the Filters screen and had this to say:


"Filters page - change the title, it isn’t clear. Perhaps something like - “choose staff chores”?"


In response, I changed the title to, "Choose Amenities", and added toggle buttons instead of checkboxes.


Another user had these two comments about the "Filters" screen:


“I'm not sure how to save a search can find them from the menu.”

“The filters and buttons are very clear, but I wasn't sure what I would click once I checked off my filters - maybe the search icon at the bottom?”


I made the "Save Search" a toggle button, put it on its own card to clearly separate it and placed it above the "See Results" button.

Another great question was:


What kind of transportation is provided and what kinds of classes? Shouldn't that be listed?


Hearing this feedback helped me see that there were many items that needed explanation. I added cards that explain the different category meanings and a long informational card that details staff-patient ratios for different scenarios.

4 screens, each showing the results of changes to wireframes based on user feedback

User Interface Designs


This is my own work in progress project. I intend to broaden and expand it to include housing options for any persons in need, and bring it to fruition through a mobile and web application.

I recently come across a site created in 2021 entitled, "Nursing Home Rating" which catalogs nursing homes by state. For example, Minnesota results include 370 homes. Clicking on each nursing home link brings one to a page with statistics, ratings and reviews. Stats include whether it is for-profit or non-profit, the total beds available, and occupancy rate. It also includes whether or not the facility accepts Medicare and Medicaid, the most recent health inspection of each facility, if it has automatic sprinkler systems in all required areas and if it has family councils (I need to do further research on this terminology). It lists the provider number, ratings, and reviews from the Dept of Health and Human Services, staffing numbers, and offers a table listing inspection deficiencies. This last bit of information should be valuable but, unfortunately, is difficult to decipher without further explanation.

This is progress in terms of helping families filter their search. For instance, if there are egregious inspection reports, one would choose to move along. It does not include photography or video of the facilities, however, nor does it explain what the inspection rating violations mean or how they have been resolved. My thoughts are to reach out to the developers and learn more.