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Citizenship in Senior Living: Beyond a Person-Centered Approach

The Five R's of Citizenship include Rights, Responsibilities, Roles, Resources, Relationships

Nexus Fellow and President & CEO of Christian Living Communities, Jill Vitale-Aussem, recently led a discussion on the importance of community. CLC’s citizenship model is rooted in the belief that each individual, at every age and level of abilities, has gifts, passions, talents and experience that make the community stronger and better.


She was joined by Maddy Chapman, the Associate Executive Director at Holly Creek, and Andrew Sharp, the Community Life Director at Clermont Park, to discuss how citizenship helps to revolutionize aging services.

“Citizenship is the ultimate goal of a person-directed culture.” Jill Vitale-Aussem.

Continuum of Person-Directedness


Previously, the traditional framework was provider-driven, where management made decisions for elders and staff, but organizations like Christian Living Communities have moved a new model – one that CLC calls the citizenship model – where elders contribute to their community and play important roles.


Provider Directed – Management makes most of the decisions with little conscious consideration of the impact on elders or staff. Elders are expected to follow existing routines.


Staff Centered – Staff consults elders or put themselves in elders’ place while making the decisions. Elders have some choices within existing routines and options.


Person Centered – Elder preferences or past patterns form the basis of decision-making about some routines. Staff begin to organize routines in order to accommodate elder preferences, either articulated or observed.


Person Directed – Elders make decisions every day about their individual routines. When not capable of articulating needs, staff honor observed preferences and habits. Staff organize their hours, patterns and assignments to meet elder preferences.


Citizenship – Elders influence their community, they are problem solvers, share responsibility for each other and are expected to contribute. The organization, The Five Rs of Citizenship.


The Five Rs of Citizenship

The Five Rs of Citizenship published by the Journal of Community Psychology are Rights, Responsibilities, Roles, Resources and Relationships. In reference to community living, rights refer to the Rights of the residents that need to be upheld. Responsibilities are the duties residents are responsible for. Roles are the titles the residents hold. Resources are time, money and training that need to be given to residents. Relationships are people getting to know one another.


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