What do you do if a resident of an assisted living facility “elopes” and no one can find him? Or when caregivers are accused of possibly mistreating patients and residents?
These are just two of the hypothetical scenarios we had to address recently when we helped an assisted living facility update its crisis communications plan and conduct media coaching for senior leadership.
We’ve found that the crisis planning process rarely changes, but the potential types of crises, challenges and unique characteristics of the operating climate change every time. We’ve found that even with organizations that have crisis plans in place, and senior managers who’ve been media-trained, it’s important to maintain constant vigilance against new communications challenges.
That’s what was on the mind of the senior leadership at an assisted living facility when they worked with us to develop an updated crisis communications plan.
The approach we took was to conduct extensive interviews with key managers, staff members and other constituents to gain the best perspective on the types of possible crises that could happen, and to begin the process of analysis and prioritization on what challenges could be faced, what resources were available, and what resources may need to be added to effectively respond to the full range of crisis situations.
With that intelligence, and a treasure-trove of data from internal reporting, protocols and processes, and other background material, we were able to create an informational mosaic that enabled us to develop a crisis communications plan that was concise enough to be an actionable, useful resource in an actual crisis, while at the same time being extremely specific in the range of roles and responsibilities manager would assume during a crisis.
This particular crisis communications plan was developed to work in conjunction with other organizational and operational emergency response plans and policies.
The plan included the major levels of crisis categories, recommendations on monitoring and identification systems, an internal and external notification process, and the most efficient means for convening a crisis communications team in the minutes after, or even before a crisis situation unfolds.
Processes were created for mobilization and messaging, and then for implementation, scaled to meet the challenges of crises from mild to major.
After the crisis communications plan was complete, senior management, who were tapped with spokesperson duties, felt more comfortable and ready to engage in media coaching, which encompassed classroom-style training, along with role-playing and other interactive exercises.
Also published on Medium.