By Steve Moran
I know, I know, I know …
I am the one senior living writer who is more likely to offend than any other. Recently, we published an article about the New Yorker cover that many consider to be ageist, including me, that has gotten quite a bit of pushback — mostly respectful and and maybe even productive, written by people who I know and respect, who are friends.
I also got a private email through LinkedIn in response to an article about a company being willing to spend almost nothing for an employee Christmas party, chiding me for not recognizing that not everyone celebrates Christmas and that some of those who celebrate Christmas do not do it with giving.
I also have an article series already written but not yet published (at the time I am writing this) about staffing mandates that will result in some unhappiness.
Because I dish it out, I know that I should expect some pushback. I welcome it; I learn from it. I learn more from my critics than I do from my fans, though hearing from fans is more fun and feels much, much better.
Tackling Hard Stuff
Before all this pushback I had been reading a book that got me to thinking about the tough topics I and other writers have tackled since nearly the beginning of the site. Here are some of those thoughts:
- I can be liked, or I can talk about the hard stuff, the things and positions that are not popular. Though at least my perception is that I do have a few people who like me in spite of ….
- No one wanted to talk about how Emeritus senior living might have actually blown it, causing harm to people, but it needed to be talked about.
- No one really wanted to/wants to talk about the lack of racial diversity in the senior living C-suite, but it needs to be talked about if we are going to make it better.
- No one really wants to talk about the hard reality that there are some (though not many) truly awful operators who are doing damage to residents, team members, and families. We need to talk about it as a way to stop it from happening.
- No one wants to explore the idea that we have enough older people with the financial capacity to fill every community to way over 90% occupancy and that the reason it is not happening is because leaders need to do better.
- No one wants to explore the idea that we might not have a staffing crisis if leaders spent more time on creating great work cultures and were willing to try and do new things.
- No one wants to talk about how much of the ageism noise is masking real ageism that is taking place in our senior living communities.
- No one wants to talk about how staffing mandates might actually be good for residents, team members, and even the industry.
I know we pay a price. There are solution providers who have told us they love what we are doing but are afraid of some big operator or another being unwilling to do business with them because of what we publish. In defense of the big operators I have not seen any evidence this is a real risk.
And yet we know for sure that when we talk about these things they get better. We know that by talking about hard stuff we find solutions.
Finally I am grateful for everyone of you who is committed to making the lives of team members and residents better. Who take the time to disagree, who keep reading and keep pushing us to get better to rethink ideas.