Senior CareWithout question, the senior care industry in America remains under intense scrutiny from government agencies, residents, families of residents, the general public and the media. And, no matter how well a facility is operated, unfortunate situations such as theft, elopements, facility issues (heat, water, a fire, evacuation, etc.), injuries or even death can still occur and attract unwanted attention from the media.

Today’s reality is that all senior living communities and assisted living facilities must be prepared to manage and mitigate negative media attention. Management and staff must have a plan in place if, for example, a TV news truck is sitting in the parking lot aiming a camera at the door and a reporter is demanding comment.

Preparation is the key. And just like any good crisis communication plan a good facility has in place for medical emergencies, senior care centers must plan for the possibility of a media call when an adverse event occurs.

News is immediate in the digital age. From a blog posting, a tweet, or a video on YouTube, all have the potential to go viral and damage a senior care facility’s reputation. The response must be immediate and well crafted. How the spokesperson communicates with the media can mean the difference between success and failure or the loss of reputation and credibility.

A well-conducted interview, with a senior care center’s key messages, successfully delivered to the media can significantly enhance credibility, brand equity, and ultimately, the bottom line. On the other hand, a poor performance during crucial media scrutiny can definitely be harmful to the company and the overall brand.

Owners and operators of senior care or assisted living facilities should also keep in mind that the media can be an ally. Reporters are often looking for a good story. And, in most instances, senior care centers can provide them, such as exemplary employees, patient success stories and awards earned.

However, when the news is bad, senior living facilities must be prepared to work with the media, and as much as HIPAA regulations will permit, be transparent and provide as much information as possible. Communication is critical. Otherwise, reporters may cite other sources, which could potentially be damaging and inaccurate.

How senior living communities handle a media crisis will show residents, families, and prospective residents how well they will care for people and respond to any medical situations as they arise. These facilities need to have crisis communications plans in place and key staff members trained in how to speak to the media. Following are five tips to help lessen potential damage to your facility’s reputation: