United Airlines Debacle: Anything Sound Familiar?

April 18, 2017
Chris Perna, The Eden Alternative Blog

You’ve probably heard about the big story involving the mistreatment of a passenger who was forcibly removed from a United Airlines flight last week. The incident has created quite a buzz. Well, there’s a very interesting angle to this story told in Monday’s Wall Street Journal. The article called “Behind United’s Fateful Move to Call Police” by Susan Carey tells us how this incident was the result of a corporate culture years in the making. I am going to share a few paragraphs from the article, and notice how I have offered a few simple word changes in parentheses that could easily morph this into an article about  the the institutional culture of many nursing home operators.

“Like most other airlines (institutional model nursing homes), United Continental Holdings Inc. (XYZ Corp.) follows strict rules on every aspect of handling its passengers (Elders), from how to care for minors (use alarms to reduce elopements) to whether someone gets a whole can of Coke.

While procedures change to keep up with evolving safety and security protocols, streamlining the underlying bureaucracy can be a lower priority for an operations- focused carrier (provider) such as United (XYZ Corp.), experts said.

Deviating from the rules can be frowned upon; employees can face termination for a foul-up, according to people familiar with the matter.

At United (XYZ Corp.), this has helped create a rules-based culture where its 85,000 (any Number) employees are reluctant to make choices not in the “book”…..

Airlines (institutional model nursing homes) crave consistency, experts said, and United (XYZ Corp.) isn’t unique in its strict focus on rules. For carriers (providers) – which face government scrutiny on everything from pilot training to repairs – the tomes of rule books can help ensure safety protocols are followed.”

The public outrage about the treatment of the United Airlines passenger is deserved and will hopefully drive efforts to change the culture at United. Sadly, we have many thousands of Elders living in nursing homes where culture change needs to happen, but where is the public outrage needed to drive that change? Join The Eden Alternative, the Pioneer Network, and others who are committed making our voices heard so culture change can become a reality for Elders everywhere.

1 Comment. Leave new

Wow. Wonderful article. You are so right. We need to do more to make our voices heard.


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