When dealing with consumer complaints . . . why is it no one seems to care anymore?

By Steve Moran

While it is a tiny fraction of the incoming email I receive, I seem to be more frequently receiving consumer complaints about their senior living experience. Particularly telling is the common theme of how — when they have issues — no one seems to care . . . 

Take a look at this . . .

Thanks for the interest, Steve,

Our dissatisfaction with Happy Acres comes from my mother’s residency at their Assisted Living Facility in Florida (name and location disguised to protect the organization).

Our experience with them has been disappointing at best. They do not deliver the care they promise in their Policies and Procedures or their sales pledge (even if you are paying extra for it). This is due primarily due to their apparent inability to train or retain the number of skilled staff required to deliver. They only hire inexperienced and untrained staff (mostly direct from high school). No CNAs allowed.

The company is run strictly by corporate standards where the highest priority is making money rather than providing quality care. This is accomplished by hiring the least expensive staff followed by training, paying, and treating them poorly. Followed by starting all over again a few months later with new staff.

Un-named Facility is only prepared to care for the self sufficient. Most staff do not have the skills to deal successfully with residents once dementia or incontinence is a problem. You may find your parent consistently sitting in wet pants with the staff not having the slightest idea of how to gain their cooperation.   

As a member of the Resident Family Council, our experience has been that complaints were unwelcome or given lip service and that suggestions costing money were not even considered. The company has made it clear it will only provide what they are forced to by law. In Florida, due to redistricting our corporate-loving legislature has either ignored or tied to tax breaks for the very wealthy, all bills that help the average citizen. Hopefully we can turn that around next session.

I am not expecting you to have an influence over these complaints but I thank you for giving me a push to write them down. Now I will share it with consumer review sites and my Government Representatives.

I Want to Cry . . .

I know there are often two sides to the story and that there are residents and families that you can never make happy. I also know that the default is “Those greedy bastards…”

Yet, what kills me is that so often consumers feel like their thoughts, concerns, and frustrations are not at all important to the senior living leadership or organizational leadership. Even worse, by the time they have found me, they are usually steaming and it is almost impossible to make things right.

However, I have seen many times where families and residents were wanting more because the community did a great job of building the relationship. By talking through the complaints — including an explanation of what they can and cannot do — the consumers walked away not completely happy, but with the feeling, they are at least being heard and understood.

What They Say About Us

They may be unreasonable, but what this person and all those ones who didn’t bother to complain are doing is going around and telling their friends and anyone who is listening that Happy Acres is a greedy company and all they care about is money.

This means it hurts occupancy at Happy Acres and makes people say . . .  “I don’t want to go to any senior living community if I don’t have to! And that is a terrible and sad thing!