Empowering Elders & Building a Culture of Change: It Takes the Whole Team

Presented by Barry and Debby Barkan, Co-Directors of the Live Oak Institute.

The attendees at the February 12, 2013 quarterly education meeting were not only provided with a day of good information and practical tips, they also sang, role played, and even meditated together before the day had concluded. Barry and Debby utilized the energy of the group to keep everyone engaged in learning.

The purpose of the event was to provide a conceptual framework and skill set that allows everyone in a community to participate in building a resident centered culture that provides a voice and a choice for each person and for the community as a whole.

Key Points

Barry and Debby utilized three following, practical aspects of the community development process to show how the act as a dynamic part of a community’s routine:

  • The creation of a daily resident community meeting that becomes the focal point of the community’s culture in which the focus is on the residents and everyone in the community is involved.
  • Teaching community development skills to all participants through the introduction of the role of community developer that can be integrated into their existing job functions.
  • The use of a multi-dimensional program to train and organize everyone in the community so they can do community development with the most frail and isolated residents by delivering individualized plans. Their model, the Pleasure of Your Company was utilized in this presentation.

Part One

Part one of the presentation was defined as the “What is Culture?” segment. The following ideas were discussed as part of this segment:

  • Key elements of a resident centered culture
  • Institutional Medical Model versus Regenerative Community Model
  • The definition of an elder that supports vitality, community, and participation
  • The six components of the Live Oak Ethos: Life is good; old dogs can learn new tricks; we are elders; live in the present, draw from the past, prepare for the future; the role we have is the role we choose; by serving one another, we serve ourselves.
  • Values and principles that underlie culture change

Part Two

Part two of the presentation was defined as “The Community Developer” segment. The following ideas were discussed as part of this segment:

  • The community developer is the organizer of the community and requires practice and commitment to the daily community meeting in order to have success in this role.
  • The roles of community developer: teacher, learner, leader, participant, advocate, and love.
  • The tools of the community developer: amplification (restating participants thoughts for clarity), repetition, affirmation, physical contact, song, storytelling, interactive reading.
  • Qualities of community developer: caring, genuineness, sense of humor, and affection.

Part Three

Part three of the presentation was defined as “The Community Development Structure and Methodology” segment. The following ideas were discussed as part of this segment:

  • Decisions to make before you get started (focused on the initial details of the community meeting, like dates and times)
  • Structure of the Community Meeting or flow might proceed as follows: welcome, exercise, opening song, community news, world news, discussion of the day, and closing song.
  • The following uses for a community meeting were identified: forum for celebration and affirmation; shared reality that orients people daily; a forum for individual growth and development; provides a bridge or connection between all community participants; provides a vehicle for institutional change.
  • The following twelve keys to successful community building were part of the wrap up of the day: build trust; be consistent; be affectionate; make each person special; support elder empowerment; continually keep residents tuned in; be a living bridge between residents; build group spirit; ground the community in values; be in harmony with the rhythms of the seasons; involve your colleagues in the meeting; and model regenerative community teachings.

The day ended with a closing song, like the community meeting would. Barry also had us all meditate together to end the day in a grounded way, as he put it.

Event Photos

Barry Barkan Feb 2013 A
Barry Barkan Feb 2013 B

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