Great Escapee Puts Care Home's Issues Management Skills To The Test

June 10, 2014 by Sophie Hunt

When 89-year old D-Day veteran Bernard Jordan ran away from his Hove care home to attend the 70th anniversary celebrations in Normandy, no one could have predicted the subsequent media frenzy or the associated issues management challenges it would create for Gracewell Healthcare’s CEO Peter Curtis.

Faced with reports claiming that Mr Jordan’s care home, The Pines, had banned him from attending the ceremony, Mr Curtis had two choices – do nothing and take what comes or respond and set the record straight. Thankfully he chose the latter.

In a well-constructed statement, he quickly put paid to rumours by confirming that “at no stage” was Mr Jordan banned from attending the commemorations. He also went on to explain that staff had actually tried to get Mr Jordan onto an accredited tour and he ended by saying that everyone at Gracewell Healthcare was “in awe of the part Mr Jordan played in the D-Day invasion 70 years ago.”
By choosing to respond, rather than refusing to comment, Gracewell Healthcare took control of the situation, demonstrating good issues management skills and turning a potentially negative story into a media victory.

Engaging social media posts further succeeded in positioning the company as an organisation that really cares about the people it supports and in every piece of communication, the message was clear and consistent – we are proud of Mr Jordan and all he has achieved.

As for Mr Curtis, he came across as a warm, credible spokesperson and having heard his interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme , I wouldn’t be surprised if we do see him and Mr Jordan embarking on a joint pilgrimage to Normandy next year. Let’s just hope they remember to let the care home staff know where they’re going!

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