Bill Statten. former Abbeyfield Canada director and David Coe, International Director
Abbeyfield Canada became a member of The Abbeyfield Society in 2011. Previously we were a member of a separate organization - Abbeyfield International.
The granting of membership to international organizations has been named a merger. I think this is a misnomer because a merger is defined as " to combine or be combined so as to lose separate identity". (Longmans Standard College Dictionary)
In the case of Abbeyfield Canada we are a separate incorporated legal entity whose board controls and determines our policy and management. It is essential that we do so and appear to do so in order to maintain our charitable status with CRA. This make our partnership with the Abbeyfield society more complex but still advantageous and a worthwhile exercise in development.
During the past year several visits have marked our relationship with the international community. A year ago David Coe, International Director of the Abbeyfield Society, came to Canada visited houses in Ontario, British Columbia and Saskatchewan.
David attended the Abbeyfield Canada AGM in Saskatoon. During visits David spoke of the wide variety of models of Abbeyfield throughout the world.
In March JB Munro, chair of the International Council arrived. The international council is made up of International Societies and is a committee of the board of directors of the Abbeyfield Society. He and I visited Houses in Ontario and BC. JB has been involved in Abbeyfield in New Zealand for many years and it was very informative to speak at length to him - to compare experiences and problems that are often so similar. Also it was good to hear of different solutions.
In May, John Robinson the chair of the board of directors of The Abbeyfield Society came to Toronto to meet with the Abbeyfield board. Board members Rebecca Vermeer from BC, Florence Graham from Saskatchewan travelled to Toronto to join Bill Statten and Judy Shaw and Elizabeth Power for the meeting. Paul and David were to be at the meeting but were stranded by bad weather in the New York airport.. They have joined us today at our AGM instead.
The meeting with John resulted in some excellent dialogue with ideas presented from both the TAS and Abbeyfield Canada prospective. Apprehensions felt on both sides were lessened.
The principle concerns have to do with:
On September 12, I was elected as a director ( one of 2 international directors) to the The Abbeyfield Society board. I now have responsibility to Abbeyfield Canada, to the international members through my place on the Council and as an international director. As board member of the Abbeyfield Society I have responsibilities to the whole organization.
These responsibilities might seem to pull in many directions, but this cannot be. The actions that are taken are to build a compatible whole which serves the individual parts. This is the responsibility of the council and the The Abbeyfield board of directors. It is a responsibility that I take very seriously. We will all be stronger in the future by building carefully and thoughtfully now. We must not ignore issues at this stage because they will weaken and undermine us in the future.
I am optimistic that we can move forward in a positive way because although in each country there is a different political, social, economic and cultural milieu, there is in all countries a strong belief in the basic principles of wanting to provide quality housing to lonely seniors in an atmosphere which provides not only physical but emotional support.
During my visit to Britain I visited 5 Abbeyfields houses. These differed from each other and from Canadian houses. Visiting these houses was very useful to me.
In the 16 months since Milan, I increasingly can see value from our relationship with The Abbeyfield Society - which includes the international members. We have access to information - such as the Abbeyfield week package which we adapted- and even more important we have access to ideas. The conversations sharing experience s and problems with international members, with British Abbeyfielders at the conference and with David, John and now Paul. All this exposure has been invaluable in developing our ideas about future growth. Awareness of the need to consider many models and levels of care has been developed by contact with our exposure to different models.
I must emphasis that Abbeyfield in Canada do not need to feel threatened by the direction the Abbeyfield society has taken in Britain. Several factors make the direction they are going in different from ours. Some of the differences are depth of capital , governments support and private development. But, we would be foolish to ignore the initiatives. Initiatives including a larger number of homes ,1 and 2 bed room units and Alzheimer homes. We must remember that when we build a new home it will last for at least 50 years. It is built for the future. Are we building what will be wanted and needed in the future? These considerations will need to be part of our strategic planning considerations. I think that we are going to have to diversify our model.
I have spoken about what we can get from our membership in the Abbeyfield society. But membership brings not only privileges but responsibilities. I have pondered what our responsibilities are beyond paying our membership dues. It is amazing how much easier it is to ask "what do we get for our dues" rather than what must we give back to the international organization to which we belong.
The answer is in fact quite straightforward. What we owe in return for membership is our best efforts in building an ever stronger Abbeyfield organization in Canada. We must support our houses so they maximize the results of their efforts in achieving the highest standards.
We must support as much as possible the groups already working on a new Abbeyfield and finally we must reach out to the groups in our society who can most benefit from our housing model .
We have plans for the future - it is imperative that we work hard, work smart, follow through and achieve our goals.