By Steve Moran

Over the weekend, Michael Owens (Senior Living Innovation Forum) sent me a link to a story titled “95-year-old man admitted shooting assisted-living worker, Lafayette police affidavit says”. It’s a tragic story. And it’s one of the random, scary things senior living operators fear because they are nearly impossible to prevent.

But what was insanely frustrating about the article, and so telling about senior living’s image problem, is the reporter, whose job it is to get the facts right, can’t seem to figure out whether what he’s writing about is assisted living or a nursing home. Take a look at these quotes:

“The 95-year-old man accused of killing a maintenance worker at his nursing home in Lafayette. . .”

“Okey Payne faces a murder charge in the death of Ricardo Medina-Rojas, who was shot once in the head at the Legacy at Lafayette nursing home.”

“Payne told police that staff at the nursing home had previously confiscated his guns, which aren’t allowed in the facility.”

So it must be a nursing home right? The final sentence in the article:

“Legacy Assisted Living of Lafayette issued a new statement . . .”

Does the community’s name give the last word?

First I find myself embarrassed that the lack of consistency and inaccuracy in this article didn’t bother this reporter, even a young one, or his copy editor. It makes them, and the publication, look unprofessional or at least sloppy. 

Our Responsibility

Yet, it is our industry. And we’re not carrying the water when it comes to helping people understand what we do or what the differences are. So, it seems unlikely that the press will do it. And really it is not their job, it’s our job.

It is not easy. It takes many cycles of repeatedly saying the same thing in positive ways.

One of the silver linings of the pandemic is the number of positive stories about senior living communities adapting in order to keep residents and team members safe. We need to be capitalizing on these opportunities to better tell our stories.

My dream is when young beat reporters like Ryan Osborne write about senior living, they will know the difference between assisted living and skilled nursing as instinctively as they know that North Carolina and South Carolina are different states and not just the opposite ends of the same state.