In an Oregon Lawsuit Holiday Management has been charged with

Over the three day weekend I stumbled across an article titled “Veterans Accuse Senior-Living Retirement Chain of Elder Abuse” The crux of the article is that Holiday Retirement is targeting low income veterans with the promise that a special veterans program called “Aid and Attendance and Home-bound Status (‘Aid and Attendance’)” will make the unaffordable affordable. Here’s what it looks like:

  • There are four co-defendants who contend Holiday is preying on elderly veterans and their spouses by claiming the “Aid and Attendance” plan will cover the high costs of housing charged by Holiday, who promises to initially defer rent payments and that when the benefits don’t come through, the residents are hit with big bills for the deferred rent.
  • They claim that while actual admission documents disclose that there is no guarantee that the funds will come through, the verbal promises and pressure are in effect an “inducement” to take on the unreasonable and unfair risk of agreeing to pay rents they cannot afford.
  • According to the article, Holiday is very specifically targeting low-income elderly war veterans and mis-representing that these residents will be able to receive “Aid and Attendance” benefits in a very short period of time.
  • In addition the lawsuit claims that by moving into a Holiday community it would increase the likelihood of receiving these benefits and that Holiday would help with the application process.

Ominous Signs

  • We need to be careful with this story, because a filed lawsuit does not mean the allegations are true and almost certainly at the very least, they did not paint a complete picture of what actually happened.  There are too many attorneys looking for causes and cases and so we need to watch this develop.
  • Too often, individuals and families take on foolish obligations (never more evident than the recent mortgage debacle) and when those foolish obligations inevitably go south, rather than owning their foolishness, they look to blame others.  I can’t help but think that at least to some degree this is another example of that kind of thinking.
  • Perception is reality #1:  This story and the Emeritus story will be like waving a red cape in front of a bull, to attorneys.  I am fearful that senior living will become the new target for ambulance chasing attorneys which will increase costs and make senior living more expensive for residents and become a major distraction for operators.
  • Perception is Reality #2:  If stories like this keep emerging they will become a political hot potato which will mean more regulations, something that hurts good providers and perhaps at best makes bad providers marginally better.
  • Perception is Reality #3:  As seniors see stories like this it will be much harder to sell senior living as a better lifestyle for seniors.
  • Stories like this suggest there are in fact many senior living buildings that are struggling to keep beds full and that in fact, they are taking on residents who have higher care needs and lower financial resources than they would if their local markets were stronger.

We need to be so so careful that we have great transparency with our residents and their families, carefully outlining what we can and cannot do; what things costs and with the risks are.  We need to develop deep true friendships with our residents and their families.  These two things will reduce risks and increase profits.  It if my fervent hope this legal action will evaporate and Holiday will be vindicated.