Verna Cavey, Resident, Independent Living, Christian Living Communities
Moriah Bernhardt, Senior Director of Rhythms Programs for CLC-Cappella
We were just going to write a garden-variety article and then decided it would be better if we bounced some ideas around with you — our colleagues who have years of experience and whose insights we trust.
We (Moriah and Verna) have recently presented at several state conferences and are preparing for a national presentation. And every time our audience has reshaped our thinking and our questions. Our “presentation” became instead an invigorating collaboration with insightful folks in the aging field.
The subject is resident-driven or resident-directed communities, or take it to the next level of resident citizenship. (In her book, Disrupting the Status Quo of Senior Living – A Mindset, Jill Vitale-Aussem refers to “citizenship” in community). In other words, residents are no longer perceived as customers or consumers, but rather active citizens of the community, and staff are not seen as “serving” the residents.
There is no textbook on this, nor is there a neat list of resident-directed communities. We have only our very positive experience to guide us. And yet, when we talked to conference participants, we too often heard that resident-directed communities are difficult and too scary to create. So we ask you:
- “What are the obstacles which get in the way of creating these communities?
- What resources or information about resident-driven communities are needed? What resources have you found which have been helpful to you?
- Do you know of a community which you feel has the characteristics of a resident-driven community?
In a conversation with Joanne Rader, one of the founders of Pioneer Network, she explained that the philosophy of resident-driven communities has been taught and practiced for 50 years. “Why,” she asked, “has it taken so long to make it a reality?” Her concerns echo ours and we couldn’t stay quiet any longer.
Recently, we listened to an interview with Cameron Camp who spoke about resident-driven communities (in his Montessori work in dementia care) and stated, “it’s about joy.” We recognize the health benefits — cognitive, physical, and spiritual — of such communities with a culture of citizenship. They are purposeful and residents live fulfilling lives, contributing their unique gifts. On the practical side, citizen-driven communities have low turnover, higher occupancy, and amazing marketability.
So, why does a resident-driven practice still sit on the shelf 50 years later? Why the resistance? Why the disconnect between reality and perception? Help us make sense of this.
Verna: A decade ago, I retired to a provider-directed community — the norm at the time. I was told when to eat, where to sit and who to sit with. This led to depression and a quest for a healthier way of life. I found a community that was not only person centered but resident directed as well, and my life was transformed.
In my new community, I went to see Moriah in Community Life Programming to offer her (after all she was the professional) an idea. Instead, Moriah shook it up. She listened respectfully and asked me to elaborate, explored my gifts and eventually helped me to lead the program with her support. Damaging dependency was eliminated and doors to my creativity were opened. She integrated a collaborative process between team members and residents, and together we created an extraordinary community.
This Pioneer Network forum is wonderful because we can hear your comments and suggestions below. Also, a poll is attached so that you can tell us where you think your community is now on the Continuum (see the excellent diagram below which is on the Pioneer Network website with a column added by us titled “Citizenship.”) We will blend your comments with those of state and national conference participants. No, the poll isn’t scientific. It is a beginning, however, to the conversation.
In November, we will return to this same forum and offer you a summation of our findings, which you helped to create. We will also discuss the tools that can assist you in creating your own resident-directed community. Thank you so much for both listening and contributing.
|Be sure to go back to the newsletter to respond to a short poll indicating where you think your community is on the Continuum, and then comment in the “Leave a Reply” area below for your suggestions, ideas and questions related to the three questions posed in the article.|