You should be aware by now about the deep research that the ABC is doing as a part of its ‘investigation’ into ‘nursing homes’.
If you are not, check this link to the survey ABC Investigations is pushing out, seeking names, pictures and videos that relate to nursing home concerns, targeting staff and families.
This is similar to Adele Ferguson (Fairfax) and retirement villages last year and Michael Bachelard’s multi-part aged care editorials that he ran in Fairfax’s The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and then syndicated through Fairfax’s suburban papers.
Our advice: be prepared for the potential negative messaging.
A number of lessons were learnt by the retirement villages sector last year. They include:
- ‘Trust’ in the whole sector was damaged, not just the operators highlighted in the media
- Sales were hit – up to 30% down for six months and more
- Those operators that came out early with additional marketing dollars, to keep the ‘lead’ pipeline full, had the lowest impact on sales while those that assumed they would be free from damage suffered the most
- Know what you are going to say proactively and have facts to back it up. For instance, if nutrition is targeted, have your nutrition facts ready
- Communicate with your staff, residents and family with these facts early – they will be unsettled and hurt just as much as you
- Recognise that there is likely to be some people who feel that things haven’t always been perfect. They deserve to be acknowledged, not discounted. “We’re listening” will always be well received (but you also have to deliver on this).
Back to the ABC. The peak bodies need to be supported in this sector challenge. But they must be expected to respond early and strongly. All members must communicate that message to them.
Remember, ‘trust’ is a lot easier to lose than to gain. And an investment in action will pay big dividends.