Our group has discussed customization of a community that would promote socialization, safety and activity.
We have found other groups that have similar dreams and here we have incorporated many ideas from a Seattle Children’s Hospital blog in our current list from brainstorming.
Updated October 2018
Security to monitor premises and help with elopement riskCrisis intervention/ rapid response behavior team on call to supplement security
Autism education for residents
Autism education for those with autistic features
Respite services for both those with disabilities and families
Community facilitator to help resolve misunderstandings and conflicts and help triage people to appropriate resources
Opportunities for people with autistic features to explore pre employment volunteer activities in the autism friendly community
Opportunities to learn more ADLs and self-help skills.
Employment or at least engagement in activity outside the living community
Recreational and fun opportunities to build skills, relationships and meaningful lives of all in the community
Counseling and support groups for families, seniors and those who would find it valuable
Consistency of care givers for bathing and personal care. These people need to be educated and trained to understand autism for the safety of all involved
Consistency of household help
Dietary accommodations for various sensitivities
A van for transportation
SOUND PROOFING in all living areas, perhaps wired for intercom for monitoring safety
Toddler level of childproofing for unsupervised areas
Fully gated community with additional safety and disability features facilitating maximal independence in a safe environment
Wire for potential video surveillance both internal and external areas so that video could be easily added if needed for safety considerations.
Central air and Heat throughout
Separation of the traffic from the dwellings, perhaps an outer circle road with a privacy fence at the far curb to decrease attractions to the road and decrease wandering.
An area of central greenery, low, to maintain visibility for safety and finding missing persons
Playground structures both kid sized and adult sized
Housing that is disability friendly, many dwellings built to allow seniors to age in place, single level, wheel chair accessible, etc easy to adapt to visually impaired
Some single family homes
Some dual apartment like dwellings with an additional master suite for live-in care givers or parents. With common room area and group kitchen eating area. Kitchen built to be able to be secured.
Some single bedroom bungalows
Some two bedroom bungalows
A community center
Housing that allows parents to live close but not with the son or daughter.
Housing that allows parents to live a small distance away.
Housing that provides both socialization and isolation opportunities.
Indoor private space for pacing and other disturbing but self-calming behaviors that disrupt others
Housing that accommodates residents who rage, with consideration for protecting everyone
Housing for visitors
Housing for respite
Master Switch for lights by area, possibly basement circuit breaker pattern
Water shut off by area, cheapest is in basement
Quiet ventilation system
The Community Center
A commercial size kitchen and social space for community events
Offices for E.N.C. personnel, social services, housing authority, and potentially vocational rehabilitation provider
Multiple smaller rooms with clear doors to close that would accommodate four or fewer around a craft or a puzzle for example. These ideally should be visually continuous with the dining area and the doors can control noise for sensitive individuals, as well as privacy for support group or other sensitive discussions.
Continuous “coffee break area” with opportunities for learning to serve patrons coffee or snacks
Small retail space possibly for a changing community job simulation
Single dental room, and or exam room to allow nearly home visits for routine dental and health care
Thank you Krisan and Bob for your work compiling this list.
We spoke to seniors who have been staying, or “Wintering” in various communities for multiple years. One couple has stayed in multiple retirement communities since the late 1970’s. Length of stays ranged from 6 weeks to 6 months. Communities, or retirement resorts discussed were located in Florida, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Wisconsin.
The #1 draw, or retention for seniors to stay in a community has been the friendships cultivated. They have found that Mid-Westerners mix well with all groups and have a tendency to be more “welcoming”. Many from Central Canada also share the same personality traits and have similar acceptance tendencies towards others. This couple noted that their experiences reflected that Deep Southerners and West Coasters tended to have minimal “openness” towards persons with different ways of doing things. In one couples experience, arrivals of visiting grandchild/ren who may struggle with social settings due to cognitive disabilities, etc., had been frowned upon by some groups. In my opinion, this should not be an issue within the Intentional Community because all residents should fully understand the purpose and goals of this specific community.
NEED TO BE USEFUL
Another common factor was the need to be needed, and feel useful. Obviously within the Intentional Community the need is great, and the usefulness is self explanatory. In the more traditional retirement communities, these issues are met through activities. (Partial list below) Individuals offer or develop group activities based on their own personal interests. Activities can range from card games to tennis to walks to crafts to potlucks/community meals. The options are endless as far as what a senior may wish to pursue. Not all activities will work for all residents, either seniors or clients. An activity may not work for clients, but a senior group may still desire to gather and participate.
Seniors need stimulation. Daily. Depending on their health and abilities, several times a day. Mental, physical and hands-on activities need to be offered and encouraged.
In the majority of the retirement communities discussed, available activities were a “must have” for the seniors. Some were staff led activities, while others were initiated by seniors based on their own interests. Staff led activities could be introduced, continued if it was well received and enough interest was generated. Recurring activities could be led by a senior volunteer; fulfilling a needed and useful role for that individual. Many seniors enjoy organizing activities, teaching others, demonstrating techniques, while others enjoy the challenge of learning new things, and “doing” while led.
Activities offered were nearly unlimited – if someone had an interest, it was tried. Failures were not really an issue since interest, or lack of, dictates whether or not an activity continues.
The biggest failures of any part of the communities were the result of poor attitudes, grumpy, unsmiling staff. Seniors with negative attitudes were not offered a “returning reservation”.
Quote: “Life is too short to deal with grumpy, unhappy people. Why would seniors want to stay some place with that type of atmosphere. Staff, volunteers, etc. should all be smiling and upbeat. If the seniors are happy, everything else flows along happily also.”
VARIOUS ACTIVITY INTERESTS
Lists are examples and not meant to be all inclusive nor limited
Learn a new language
CRAFTS – Projects can range in duration from mere minutes to 1 day to continuous.
Bocce Ball Snowshoeing
Tennis, Pickle Ball Cross Country skiing
Golf (could be driving nets) Walking
Softball (batting cage) Dancing
Outdoor activities – games painted on the ground (shuffleboard, giant checker board, etc.), games painted on picnic tables (checkers, chess – pieces in containers attached to tables)
Coffee Clutches – meet for donuts (alternate hosts)
Finger Food snack gatherings
Ice Cream Sundae socials (everyone bring an ingredient)
Group discussions (Pre- announced topics, news paper discussions, etc.)
Charity/Fund Raising (organize a quilt raffle, garage sale – use proceeds for specific needs/wants)
Band jamming (bring your instrument to jam with the group)
Plays – put on a play for the Community
Puzzle Rooms – puzzles are huge for the majority of the seniors; promotes socialization
Gaming – card, board games, chess, checkers, etc.
Religious service offered ON SITE