By Steve Moran

I came up with this question while writing another article and realized this one question may very well get to the root of a number of senior living challenges.

The Resident Trust

It is really the resident and resident family trust. Look at what it involves:

  • They trust you to keep them physically safe 24/7, 365 days a year.
  • They trust you with a huge chunk of the money they earned, scraped together, and saved.
  • They trust to you so much that they got rid of almost all of their stuff to come live out their last years with you.
  • They trust you to give them a great living experience each and every day.
  • They trust you to get their medications right.
  • They trust you to call for emergency medical service when needed.
  • They even trust you to handle their physical remains when they die.

Reciprocal Trust

I hear stories about how little trust senior living leaders have in their residents. They don’t really trust residents to be reasonable in what they ask for. They don’t trust residents to understand rent increases. They don’t trust that residents are being reasonable when they ask for things. They hate resident council meetings because they don’t trust that residents might have reasonable complaints.

They don’t trust residents to be employees. They don’t trust that residents might be able to help solve occupancy and staffing challenges. They don’t trust that residents really do know that not every meal will be a home run for every resident.


The problem is that once distrust starts, it grows on both sides. This means more complaints to regulators, more complaints to friends, and less grace. It means residents start to look for things to complain about, and the staff then trusts residents less.

It means that residents and their families are more likely to sue if things go wrong, and in senior living, things going wrong is a huge part of what we do. It also means that residents gossip about team members, and team members gossip about residents.

Right Assumptions …

I assume that when someone has a complaint about something I have written or said, they are complaining because they think I am wrong and would like to see me make it right or have right thinking. I love my critics. I love hearing their thoughts about what I need to do better, what we at Foresight need to be doing better.

It does not mean I always agree or change, but I always consider and assume good intent (recognizing that sometimes there is ill intent).

Imagine that in every senior living community, you assumed that your residents simply wanted it better for them and for others, that you listened, and considered, and said YES where it made sense. It would make your communities more successful and your life less stressful.