By Pete Webb, Principal
We’ve had a lot of frank discussions in recent days with senior living providers, and we’re convinced their public posture of complete transparency about the impacts of COVID-19 outbreaks on the front lines in their communities is enhancing their reputation.
Between pressure from regulators, constant badgering from the media, inaccurate and inflammatory social media postings, and the entreaties of residents and family members, doing the right thing by providing accurate information becomes an ongoing daily challenge.
We’ve seen the opposite reaction from some senior living affiliates here in Colorado, as senior management stiff-arms the media and presents an aloof image. Vague concerns about proprietary information or privacy are often cited. But the damage done now to a facility’s overall image and presence won’t be easily overcome by a later-in-the year marketing surge.
“What’s the right thing to do?” apparently still isn’t being asked in those morning crisis meetings. That exact phrase frequently comes up in the conference calls in which we participate, and we’re proud to say, it’s not only raised by us, but also often by the attorneys.
Crisis management is not just the application of training, or following checklists or putting practice scenarios into place. Crisis management includes using the tools of your brain and your heart to settle on “If it were me … how would I like to learn this information, and from whom?”
Entities and systems from all industries that have a strong culture of togetherness in their mission, candor and participatory decision-making seem to have an easier time navigating these choppy waters. Faith-based systems have an advantage because of their strong moral bearing. But there are lots of examples of senior living companies, and companies across the board that are gaining high ground by presenting an effective public presence …. most likely by constantly restating, “What is the right thing to do?”