No one likes bad publicity and when there is bad publicity no one likes additional coverage about that bad publicity.

No one likes bad publicity and, when there is bad publicity, no one likes additional coverage about that bad publicity. A few times a year I stumble across a story that puts a senior living provider in less than perfect light.  I love and hate and struggle with whether to write about those stories and how to write them. In the past 18 months I have written such stories about Brookdale (most recently), Emeritus, Holiday Retirement and a few others.  Each time I struggle with whether to write about the bad news at all and how to handle it.   I need to start by saying this is not a pure exercise because I know that writing about bad news always drives traffic and driving traffic is practically the most important thing in the world for any publication, either online or in print.

The Big Point

As I look at the role of Senior Housing Forum in the senior living ecosystem my hope and desire is that every article will be helpful to the industry.   This means . . .

  • Some articles are simply “here is a cool idea that you might be able to use”.
  • Other articles explore what senior living leaders are doing and thinking.
  • In some cases the articles ask hard questions.
  • Sometimes articles are written to ask the big question:  What can we learn from this?

Unwilling to Ignore

In some sense it would be pretty easy to ignore these unpleasant experiences or to pretend/assume that when there is bad news it is just an unfair attack or an outlier.  The real truth is that, in almost every case, the company contributed to the bad news or, perhaps more accurately, the story exposed weaknesses that need attention.  In essentially every case where a senior living company has had negative publicity there was a significant element of bad luck. What I mean by bad luck is that we operate in a tough environment.  We have many, many relatively low paid workers and some are not going to be so great.  On top of that . . . even great employees sometimes make mistakes.  Add to that, moving a loved one into a senior living community is massively stressful for the resident and their families, causing emotions to run high.  Occasionally this leads to explosive outbursts and confrontations.  On very rare occasions these situations escalate to the press and the courts. As painful as it is, these stories are it is import for us to talk about them because, if we are willing, they can serve as teachable moments to get better at what we do . . . better at serving residents, better a serving families and better serving team members. Steve Moran

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