By Steve Moran

I belong to a number of Facebook groups where the members are frontline workers, and nearly every day I read things that make my heart sing with joy — and other things that make me both pissed off and brokenhearted. I also hear things from senior living leaders about their frontline staff that simply leave me aghast. I am particularly concerned that right now, there are really bad things happening in your communities and you have no idea.

Here are the things I am seeing right now:

  • The resident move-in experience: I recently chatted with a senior living veteran who had to help his mom move into senior living. He thought he knew what he was doing. The experience was horrible, and he is now in the process of moving Mom to a new and better community … he hopes. I have experienced the same and heard variations on this story from other senior living leaders more times than I can count.
  • Frontline workers and cellphones: I was shocked to learn that many senior living organizations tell their frontline workers they cannot carry their personal cellphones at work. Yet I promise those same executives are carrying and using theirs. It shouts to workers, “WE DON’T TRUST YOU.” What if it’s a single mom who needs to be available to her kids in an emergency? Sure there are risks, but so what? Deal with the problems; don’t treat all your frontline workers like they are little kids.
  • Undelivered promises: Another post from a CNA talked about waking up to a sick kid and deciding that since the community was so short-staffed, he would be willing to come in for a couple of hours, giving the community a chance to find someone to fill in the rest of the shift. The community agreed to do this, then simply never came through. In the comments, we discover this is common. Next time: They just call out and don’t come in at all.
  • The attitude that nurses are better than the rest: I am still shaking my head over this one.


Real Concern

A CNA asked if others were allowed to sit at the nurses station to chart. It turns out that in this particular community, the nurses station is only for nurses, and CNAs have to find other places or simply stand and chart against the wall.

In fairness, there were many comments about their communities operating like a team and the CNAs sitting at nursing stations. But in way too many communities, it is not allowed, or worse, not allowed by certain nurses — which brings me back to this very real concern that you may not know what is going on in your own communities.

Here are just a few comments:

“No … we are not really allowed to sit at all unless on break, and we have a break room. No CNA’s are allowed to sit at nurses’ stations even doing CNA work. But nurses can sit at the nurses’ station and play on their phones.”

“Nope, will get written up if told more than once.”


“Not supposed to but we have to chart and half the tablets don’t work or chart outputs. Admin doesn’t like it.”

“No, they bought us iPads to chart on so we have to stand in the hall when we are not doing patient care. All because of a few pos (if you don’t know google it) that like to sit at the nurses station being loud, not answering call lights & using computers to shop online.”

Unforced Errors

These are unforced errors that take away the human dignity of team members. They cause employees to leave senior living and prospects to not want to join our ranks. This leads to turnover, which crushes the resident experience and hurts occupancy.


I beg you to go make sure this is not happening in your communities.