This is a story about your enemy and mostly we don’t have the courage to name it

By Steve Moran

I know, if you are reading Senior Housing Forum you are an amazing leader and a fan of ours because our goal is to help great senior living leaders improve occupancy, resident and team satisfaction, as well as make the world a better place while making a good profit along the way.

This is a story about your enemy and mostly we don’t have the courage to name it.

The Enemy

Today I received an email from a friend who has been in the senior industry for many years. As is true with more and more senior living leaders, this person became a senior living consumer, choosing and overseeing assisted living placement for a loved one.    

This is not the first one of these emails I’ve received and, almost without exception, when they share their stories, they are not good.

That’s not quite right . . .

They are terrible.

Feeling Crazed

The resident was moved into a medium high-end, brand new community with a high monthly price tag and a big add-on for the highest level of care. No one particularly loves paying $5,000-$7,000 per month for senior living care, but they had great gratitude that being able to afford “the very best” was not an issue.   

From the very beginning the move was not great, but the resident was at times a bit difficult or at least required heavy care. The family made the decision to bring in an outside caregiver to supplement the care provided by the community.  

This caregiver had a long relationship with the family and the resident. She did a great job, including providing most of the heavy lifting of bathing and dressing.  

Fail After Fail . . .

For a year this went on. Almost . . . and this is super important . . . always the problem was leadership and supervision at the executive director and care manager level. They played favorites and made it tough for those who were not “in the clique”. This resulted in massive turnover and replacing good staff with less good staff.

The Final Fail

The family planned to take the resident out for dinner. They called the day before, asking that staff make sure their loved one was ready to go . . . bathed, wearing fresh clothes, and dry. When they got to the community, he was in dirty rumpled clothes, unshaven and soiled. It took the family and friends most of an hour to get him cleaned up and ready to go out to dinner . . . and adding insult to injury, it was not until he was almost ready to go that anyone came in to help.

The Big Question

He was not singled out for bad care. He is one of a dozen or so residents that left for another place because the care was so terrible. This senior living professional who loves our industry, who has been in it for decades, is rethinking that love . . . and for good reason.  

I have to believe that each one of those residents who left tell their terrible senior living story to others.  Probably a dozen for each one. And how many times does this happen across the country each month?

The company that manages this community manages a bunch more, so they are not a mom and pop or one-off. They are a significant player (though not one of the super big ones).  

This is going to sound terrible . . . but I hope that company goes out of business!

As harsh as it sounds, you should wish the same thing because you’re a good operator and they are doing horrific damage to your reputation.