Co-operative Care

This Vision is to enable families with children and young adults to come together and spend time living in community, feeling supported by paid carers, friends and each other. Being part of a natural learning environment and activity program. Giving quality-of-life and enriching experiences to carers and their families, support staff and friends… Contributing to local life here in Bali towards community projects and workshops that raise awareness about sustainability in practical ways…

Finding compatibilities, common strengths and building towards a community-living environment where our kids can spend more time and form lifelong relationships… I believe that it is safer for our kids to be “in community” than “alone” in a care home/institution… And forming naturally protective community around our kids is the best safeguard for their future when we are “gone”.

We can safely embrace the natural joy our children bring when we can cope with their care. We have so much to offer as humans when we can be supported/enabled to. The premise of this village community is co-contribution… doing for 3 or 4 hours a day what you love whether it’s gardening, preparing food, helping in the school/workshop, natural building, giving health treatments/workshops, housekeeping or accounting… Taking rostered turns at supervision for our kids activities (co-operative care) ensures their care needs are best met together.

The premise of this village community is co-contribution… doing for 3 or 4 hours a day what you love whether it’s gardening, preparing food, helping in the school/workshop, natural building, giving health treatments/workshops, housekeeping or accounting… Taking rostered turns at supervision for our kids group activities (co-operative care) enables us (as parents/carers) to spend quality time with our “kids” and also ensures that we have our “own time” to meet our own needs.

Whether it be in day-based activities with the kids, life skills in the kitchen, laundry, gardens, doing cleaning together, leading yoga/meditation/sport activities… everyone has a part to play. Levels of physical/financial contribution can vary/be balanced according to ability and means; Financial and non-financial (in-kind) forms of contribution are equally valued. Parents get to enjoy spending time with their kids (and other siblings who often miss out on their parents’ time) while also having time out and support from local carers, community volunteers and paid care staff.

Holiday Activities and Post School Program

Community Agriculture – A community “cottage industry” business engages PWD in daily activities together with the local community in a natural and inclusive fashion where there is a high level of accountability.

Whether it be towards a craft product, natural medicine/health care product, or food product, involving PWD in cottage-industry farming activities can gain the benefits of community involvement and a more natural “supervision”-style inclusion activity. (And it’s an opportunity to diversify our farms and strengthen ecological local farming). 

In terms of my current thinking, local farmers and village people can be employed as carers as well as gardeners to assist in the village with food growing activities and alongside care staff/ community members/parents in a ratio that enables adequate supervision and safety.

Having the systems in place can then enable fluidity through parents involvement in management… a bit like how a Steiner School involves parents in aspects of the school structure and running as opposed to being “consumers”…  Commercial Retreats will run to fund the start-up of a time-share or more permanent-living community and as the community grows accrue funds for the next seeding so those families wishing to join may have the support to do so. This will be covered more deeply in an upcoming section I will be posting about on the Blog.

Community gardening can further social reaches/goals for people with disabilities, and community supervision will mean a more natural sense of accountability than one finds (in my experience) in conventional care homes or disability centres. Co-op members co-contributing in the farming area, Support Staff, Parents and Help Exchange volunteers assist in farming/food-growing activities and provide general or individualised care supervision for our ‘kids’. Examples of inclusive fun activities are carp-farming, flower-picking, vegetable gardening, weeding, mulching, raising seedlings, watering. harvesting and processing produce… it really depends on the group of ‘kids’ and on what activities are most appropriate.

Family supervision in Asia is much more natural – in the sense of a group of people – not necessarily biological family only. It gives us a natural accountability that traditional care organisations don’t seem to have at present.   HERE is my spcheil about the culture I perceive in disability care in Australia. Maybe it’s arguably better than no care but I hope that as humans we can gain a sense back of what it’s like to do things together, working co-operatively and having fun at the same time. Working on projects in Cairns and Philippines has illustrated this to me.

Human psychology seems to show that if people think/know they’re being watched by their peers, they are less likely to be ‘dishonest’. In the present disability sector in Australia, “accountability” of support workers’ actions is generally lacking as a result of the “culture” of “disability work”. For example, I happened to go to the same beach where my daughter was with an employed carer from a government-funded care agency in Australia (in 2015). I saw my daughter was alone swinging on a playground swing while the carer some 20-25m away (out of direct sight from my daughter) was cleaning out her car. There was no other public around. The carer then went into the public toilets adjacent to the swings for around 4-5 minutes again leaving my daughter on her own on the swing alone. I’m sure had she known I or anyone else was there, she wouldn’t have left my daughter unattended.

Caution must be taken for people who are vulnerable and appropriate supervision must always be present. Additional utilisation of CCTV technology to ensure our “children” are safe at all times can be applied appropriately to certain areas and also to ensure overall community safety.

One way I thought to reduce the cost of carers and free up parents’ time would be to have like a cooperative roster with other parents for a group of kids that do, say, a farming activity together. Support workers/carers and/or volunteers would also be present, but as a parent, I want to know my daughter and her carers are always being supervised by someone whose interests are the same as my own.

I drew the below table as an example “time schedule” where parents can share the supervision of a daily schedule that may include community farming activities. The time column got omitted so along the left side – going down the 5 blocks should be time intervals of 7-9am, 9-11am, 11-1pm 1-2pm Lunch 2-4pm, 4-6pm. If it’s better to roster whole-day supervison, there would be a left column of week1 week2 week3 week4 week5 which would then repeat-cycle (or also if parent-supervisor activity spanned just a few hours on any given day).

Families can be rostered on as care supervisors

In the context of a Family Homestay and/or Retreat environment, activities could be organised around natural building activities, support in the local school activities, music classes, yoga programs, craft and painting, dance and other exercise, meal preparations, physical therapy exercises, excursions, balance and co-ordination, brain-gym and relaxation time…. Here is an example of a typical day’s activity schedule:

TimeActivity (Kid’s Program)
7-8amPersonal Care, Bathing, Dressing,
8-9amBreakfast – Fruit and Pancakes; Cleaning and Ecobrick activity
9-11amBrain Gym followed by Sensory Activity;
Going for a walk
Plastic/Collage; Painting/Drawing
Morning Tea
11 – 1pmLearning activity/Craft/Assembly
Music/Singing and Body Percussion/Drumming
2-4pmSiesta or iPad activity/interactive whiteboard; speech practice/writing/learning,
Story-telling/Theatre/Traditional Dance/ Play
Collecting/sorting materials
Sound Meditation/ Yoga/ Hammock time
4-6pmGardening, Harvesting
Cooking/Meal preparation
Swimming/Group Therapy
Sensory Play – Goop/Play-doh/ Zumba Class/ Cob-building
6-7pmPersonal Care, Showering, Freetime
8.30 – 9.30pmOptional after-dinner music/entertainment/performance/presentation/check-in/movie

Naturally, the schedule can be tailored depending on the group/individual needs.

Currently, I have International volunteers stay with us for periods of time to help around the house and informal supervision, activities such as dance, yoga, craft and music at home or with the Matahari Terbit School Program which Freyr attends Monday to Saturday. We usually have one activity session a day fitting around the school schedule as we are still focused on building activities on the house.

What are your thoughts? Please comment below.

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