As a fellow senior living colleague, we are alerting you about an upcoming Frontline/ProPublica exposé titled “Life and Death in Assisted Living.”
It is scheduled to air on Tuesday, July 30 at 10:00pm on PBS. Nearly 4.6 million people watch PBS each week. That means a wide viewing audience could see this program, which casts the assisted living industry in an unfavorable light.
Frontline spotlights Emeritus Senior Living, one of our country’s leading assisted living and memory care providers. The broadcast cites devastating incidents that resulted in death several years ago at four Emeritus communities. Needless to say, these reports raise serious questions about the quality of care at these Emeritus locations. However additional information about the overall broadcast message suggests that Frontline will likely portray the assisted living industry as a whole as flawed. Possible themes include:
- Staff overwhelm resulting in lapses in care
- Inadequately trained staff resulting in compromised care
- Profit-driven executives making shareholder satisfaction a priorityover resident care and safety
- Loose and ineffective regulation of assisted living from state to state
- Preoccupation with census building in lieu of quality care
Telling stories is a powerful way to communicate. As marketing and communication specialists, we do it every day. But when only one side of a story gets press, it is easy to forget the other side.
Certainly, when problems arise in a single community or begin to trend industry-wide, they warrant immediate attention and swift correction. Also, when industries grow, finding ways to maintain quality in the face of expansion is essential. Exposés can effectively draw attention to changes that must be made. However they can also make sweeping generalities that are not relevant to organizations and care providers who are serving their residents and families well. That is unfortunate.
The Frontline broadcast could contribute to a loss in confidence in the assisted living industry. Please be aware of the program about to be aired and be prepared to answer questions that could come your way as a result.
Also, take this opportunity to put your own senior living organization under the microscope. Honestly evaluate conditions, policies, procedures, performance and quality of service. Be sure you are exercising the privilege to serve seniors with the high regard it deserves.
P.S. If you need our help to take an objective look at your community’s operation and troubleshoot solutions for improvement, then please call us to discuss.