A few weeks ago I broke a story about Holiday Retirement being sued by 4 veterans for misleading promises or representations about how veterans’ benefits would make unaffordable senior housing affordable.  Here is the link to the article “Here we go again . . . “ Today, the Oregon Department of Justice announced they have reached a settlement with Holiday Retirement that covers all 14 of their Oregon communities.  The press release indicates Holiday Retirement will pay $750-$3,500 to 163 veterans plus an additional $200,000 to the Oregon Department of Justice Protection and Education Account; $95,000 toward DOJ’s attorney fees.  They also donated $50,000 to the Oregon Veterans’ Home. According to the press release, much of the actual wrong doing was committed by Robert E. Elhard Jr. and Fielding Financial LLC a company that worked directly with Holiday Management to focus on veterans.  Part of the settlement included Elhard and Holiday parting ways and Elhard losing his ability to work in the State of Oregon.

Further Reflections

This is always the hard part for me, but there are a few things that need to be talked about:

  • It is not clear whether or not this settlement includes the lawsuit that I originally wrote about.  I will do some digging to see if I can uncover that information.  Maybe someone from Oregon can help here.
  • It appears that this is a situation that affirms the old saying that where there is smoke there must be fire.  We need to be so so careful about how we do business and who we do business with.
  • Transparency, Transparency, Transparency!  This would not have happened if there had been aggressive transparency both verbally and on paper about the risks, the amount of effort and the amount of time it can take to get benefits.
  • More Transparency, based on the settlement the arrangement with this third party who apparently was responsible for much of the damage that was done, was not disclosed to residents.
  • Be careful who you do business with.  Doing business with outside experts is a good thing.  It makes it possible for us to utilize the skills and talents of experts we could not otherwise afford.  That being said, when they are in bed with us, they become us in a very real sense.  We need to make sure they have the same level of integrity we hold ourselves to.

I am glad Holiday can put this unfortunate episode behind them (and I hope it includes the lawsuit), but once again the settlement suggests there were widespread problems.   Senior living and assisted living are great businesses and the do so much good for seniors.  It is a business that is both profitable and efficient and the efficiency comes largely because there are minimal regulations.   We cannot afford many more stories like this before both state and federal regulators see an opportunity to come after us with both barrels. Finally, the large companies need to be more careful than other group of providers.  They are easy targets and are being looked at with extra scrutiny.