By Steve Moran

I am so so weary of people talking about how senior living companies and senior living leaders choose profits over people.

It wearies me because it is a nonsensical idea. If it were possible to get rich by favoring profits over people it would mean:

  • Paying minimum wage would have no impact on the availability of staff and quality of staff.
  • Running short-staffed would not impact the quality of care or occupancy.
  • There would be no legal or regulatory problems with running short-staffed.
  • You could serve porridge three meals a day and improve your bottom line.
  • Operators who put people above profits would be failing like crazy, or at least underperforming.

Honestly, have you ever heard of a single instance where a senior living company failed because they put people above profits?

Failing Senior Living Operators

Over the last 12 months, we have seen several hundred senior living communities transition from subperforming operators to higher performing operators. This would never happen if profits over people were a winning strategy. Those operators who failed would be, in fact, the biggest winners.

In each and every case the operators who failed did so in large part because they, in fact, did put profits over people.


The reason companies fail is always complex but ultimately it comes down to painting themselves into a corner and then making bad decisions while in the corner. This is of course why they ended up in a corner in the first place.

It is incredibly hard to make good decisions when facing disaster. Decision-making defaults to making low-odds, high-risk choices or taking the “safe” path of doing the same old thing that has not worked in the past. And … there are just enough stories of leaders and companies doing this and finding success that the temptation is too hard to resist.

Not that much different than buying a lottery ticket, because after all, someone has to win. The difference is that with a lotto ticket, the risk is just a dollar or two, not the lives of hard-working team members and older people living out their last chapters.

People First

People first is the only strategy that makes any sense at all, at least in senior living. This is a business that is all about people. People first makes the lives of leaders better; it makes the lives of residents better; it makes the lives of team members better.

It also makes for a profitable enterprise.