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Abbeyfield Canada: Dignified Living
The Abbeyfield concept is as simple as it is unique: create a warm, family-style, volunteer-run and community-based house that offers seniors an easy-going balance between privacy and companionship, security and independence. Abbeyfield is a proven success, a community-based housing alternative that enables healthy seniors to live independently and in place in a non-institutional setting — happily and safely.
Three steps to create an Abbeyfield in your community:
As the national umbrella organization, Abbeyfield Canada guides, supports and promotes local community-based and volunteer-led Abbeyfield Societies to develop and manage local Abbeyfield Houses. One of the most inspiring aspects of the Abbeyfield model is how members of a community willingly and enthusiastically come together to do something wonderful and positive for seniors. These volunteers come from all walks of life, but they are united in their desire to ensure that seniors in their community have a housing alternative that suits their needs and their budget.
Each Abbeyfield House is an incorporated not-for-profit entity – its own “society” — formed by the group of volunteers that initiate, support and guide the operations of the Abbeyfield House through a volunteer board of directors. All Houses are affiliated with Abbeyfield Canada and are bound by its policies and guidelines. While every House benefits from the resources and shared experiences of the organization as a whole, in all other aspects each local society is autonomous.
The following outlines the three most common steps to successfully create an Abbeyfield:
The Inaugural Meeting: Is Abbeyfield an Option for Your Community?
At the inaugural meeting, a group of community volunteers and activists (usually 4-6 individuals) meet with a regional Abbeyfield representative to determine if the Abbeyfield concept is a viable option for their community. In addition to an overview of the Abbeyfield concept, the Abbeyfield Canada services and tools provided to guide the development and management of the project will be highlighted. Participants will walk away with an action plan and a checklist of tasks, which need to be completed to make Abbeyfield a reality for their community.
The Steering Committee: Crafting the Project Charter
Once the decision to create an Abbeyfield has been made, a Steering Committee – consisting of a core leadership group with a range of skills and experience – then formulates the project charter. The charter will result in concrete actions and provides a structured approach to deal with the planning, design and implementation of the project. It provides a preliminary delineation of roles and responsibilities, outlines the project objectives, identifies the main communities of interest, establishes priorities, assigns tasks and defines the authority of the Steering Committee. Because every Abbeyfield development project is different, the charter should be sufficiently detailed and tailored to reflect community resources, priorities and needs.
A provisional member is a temporary category of Abbeyfield Canada membership and is granted to an applicant who does not meet the requirements for Active Membership but who offers the satisfactory evidence of the intention and ability to qualify for Active Membership within a three-year period.
The Provisional Society Membership is a renewable license for the use of the Abbeyfield name, enabling the Provisional Member to access:
- Development support and guidance from Abbeyfield Canada;
- Abbeyfield Canada training and operational manuals;
- An Abbeyfield Canada Board appointed liaison;
- Life Lease advice through Abbeyfield Canada’s strategic partners;
- Advice in obtaining grants and subsidies;
- Abbeyfield Canada promotional material, including name and logo;
- Abbeyfield Canada newsletters, bulletins and information;
- The annual general meeting; and
- Participate in Abbeyfield Canada working groups.
During the twelve-month license period, provisional societies must:
- Operate according to the Abbeyfield Mission and Guiding Principles;
- Pay an initiation fee of three hundred dollars ($300) and, in subsequent years, an annual membership fee of one hundred dollars ($100) until the House is open for occupancy;
- Form a board of directors within twelve (12) months;
- Become registered and incorporated within twelve (12) months;
- Produce a sustainable business plan within twelve (12) months;
- Develop a strategic plan within twelve (12) months;
- Comply with the Abbeyfield Canada promotional material guidelines for the use of the name and logo;
- Submit an annual project status and financial report;
- Sign a Confidentiality Agreement; and
- Re-apply for Provisional Member status after five (5) years unless the House is open for occupancy.
Thanks in large part to the extraordinary volunteers in each community who believe in the Abbeyfield concept and who are dedicated to ensuring that seniors live quality lives, Abbeyfield is growing here in Canada and internationally. Their contribution is immeasurable, but their commitment makes every Abbeyfield home a success story, founded on care and compassion and infused with a joy for life. The 800 Abbeyfields that exist today in Canada, Australia, Belgium, New Zealand, South Africa and the United Kingdom, is a reflection of that community spirit.