By Steve Moran

No one lost their life — no one was even seriously injured — when a “door plug” blew out of the side of Alaska Airlines Flight 1282. Making this even scarier and weirder was that this Boeing 737 Max 9 was essentially a brand new plane.

The Aftermath

In response, Alaska Airlines grounded their entire fleet of 737 Maxes for inspection. Shortly thereafter, the FAA grounded all of that airplane type until they could be inspected. There was a huge push to find the door plug that blew out. The FAA, the NTSB, the Pilots Association, the Flight Attendants Association, Boeing, Alaska Airlines, and likely others will all be tasked with figuring out what went wrong so that it never happens again.

Most recently, United announced they found loose bolts on some of their aircraft.

If Only Senior Living Did the Same

This is the second article along the same vein (here’s the first), but what has happened here provides great insight into what could be done in senior living.

Today, when bad things happen in our industry and they get reported in the news, the industry sentiment is, for sure, not to excuse it, but it is to minimize it as a rare outlier. In truth, these stories still represent older people who are harmed or die and families who are traumatized.

Because senior living is complex, with lots of older people whose bodies and sometimes minds are deteriorating and who are being cared for by other humans who are imperfect — often under circumstances where there are no perfect, make-everything-better solutions — bad things happen.

Some really bad things don’t get reported, because 1) the consequences are so severe or 2) they are near misses where the outcome could have been really bad, but there were not significant negative consequences.

Cone of Silence

When these bad things happen, everyone crosses their fingers that no one will find out, that nothing bad will happen to the community, to the team members involved. I get it. The consequences of being caught by licensing or the legal system are immense. But it means we never learn from our mistakes.

My Dream

My dream is that we start being more forthright about fails where the consequences were minimal or nonexistent. That we start telling stories about what happened, what organizations did to keep it from ever happening again. What lessons were learned.

I can pretty much promise you that never again in the history of aviation will a door plug blow out of an airplane, and that is only true because everyone was willing to tackle the problem head-on. And because of that, the next day, not a single person was afraid to climb on a commercial airplane flight. That would have been true even if a few people had blown out of the hole. That would have been true even if the entire airplane had gone down.

We have a huge opportunity for people to have that much trust in senior living.