Re: Caring for residents
From: Eris Weaver (
Date: Fri, 21 Oct 2016 12:40:04 -0700 (PDT)
Dick Kohlhaas wrote:

At Casa Verde, we have organized a committee to investigate coordinating assistance, such as meals, driving, shopping, help with housework, personal care, etc, for members who are (temporarily) disabled due to injury, illness, etc. .

We have recognized potential problems, e.g. how long is "temporary", what about mental illness, legal liability.

Have any other communities dealt with this type of situation?

During our thirteen years living at FrogSong, we have supported our neighbors through deaths, divorces, cancer, strokes, mental health breakdowns, surgeries and injuries too numerous to count. In fact, one member is coming home today from three weeks in the hospital after being hit by a car during a bike ride - the Frog Forces have mobilized to fill their refrigerator, get her hospital bed set up, etc.

We have never had a standing committee devoted to this, and I don't recommend one. Caring for folks in these circumstances is RELATIONSHIP-based, not POLICY-based! Each person is going to need, want and accept different levels of help from different people, based on their relationships, and will want & need a different individual to be the coordinator of that help. When you are under the stress of a major illness or injury, you are particularly vulnerable and need to be surrounded by the folks that you WANT around you.

For example, when my wife is in the hospital, she wants NO VISITORS. Period. Just me. My neighbor AR, on the other hand, had practically a non-stop party in her hospital room, every wall covered with cards & streamers and every flat surface covered with flowers and plants and toys. When he was diagnosed with ALS, Fred Lanphear invited his Songaia neighbors - and they accepted - into a very intimate level of personal care. When my neighbor WK had a stroke requiring a lot of physical care, he absolutely did NOT want any of his neighbors helping him in the shower, wiping his butt, etc!

On the giving side, we are all closer to some people than we are to others and are therefore willing to do more for some than for others. I was willing to occasionally chauffeur BK - a neighbor with whom I had a not-so-great relationship - to the doctor but I do far more for those with whom I have a deeper relationship (spoon-feeding AR, dressing her, helping her to the bathroom).

This is just human nature.

By creating a committee, and policies and procedures, etc. I fear you would be setting up an EXPECTATION that everyone could or should or would be offered the same level of assistance, which would engender hard feelings when it didn't happen; and that you will spend a TON of time "what iffing" every possible thing that could happen. I think it is a good thing to have the CONVERSATION about what sorts of things people feel like they might be willing to do to help, and what sorts of help people are willing to receive - sharing past experiences - in the interests of knowing each other better. But I trust that people will mobilize when there is a need, and a leader for THAT PERSON's team will arise - someone who is close to them, who knows what they like, want & need, and the person in crisis "deputizes" to perform this function.

Eris Weaver
Founding Member, FrogSong (Cotati, CA)
Currently running for Cotati City Council!

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