As a private practitioner in the field of social justice, elder and family mediation over the past fifteen years, I have been challenged along with other professional colleagues across Canada to increase public awareness of dispute resolution, particularly, transformative elder mediation. We have been gratified to see awareness grow due to the work of many individuals and professional advocacy groups such as Judy McCann-Beranger, Elder Mediation International Network and Family Mediation Canada.
From a legal perspective The Canadian Centre for Elder Law (CCEL) was created by the British Columbia Law Institute as a vehicle to carry forward the Institute’s work in relation to legal issues affecting older adults and to enrich and inform the lives of older people in their relationship with the law.1
Even as mediation in general stops being the “light hidden under a bushel” and grows in the public’s collective thinking, it almost seems that we face the same uphill battle each time we branch out into a new area of application. Yes, many people know about divorce mediation, we see widespread evidence of the success of using mediation in neighbourhood disputes, organizational conflicts, restorative justice and school-based peer mediation programs.
What about older adult Canadians, those with disabilities, those with Alzheimer's and related diseases, those in residential and long term care? Make no mistake about it: Canada is aging. This is the transformational issue of our time. Canadians today live longer and live better than ever before. The evidence is clear. Older adults can live longer, healthier lives by staying socially connected, increasing their levels of physical activity, eating in a healthy way, taking steps to minimize their risks for falls and refraining from smoking. But there are real environmental, systemic and social barriers to adopting these healthy behaviours. Some relate to inequities as a result of gender, culture, ability, income, geography, ageism and living situations. These barriers and inequities need to be and can be addressed now. Through a combination of political will, public support and personal effort, healthy aging with dignity and vitality is within reach of all Canadians.
In British Columbia as in most Canadian Provinces about 83 percent of health care workers are women. 44 per cent of health care workers in Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) work part-time or casual. Nearly 30 per cent of CUPE health care workers are people of color including five percent Aboriginal workers. A large majority of the low-wage health care members are women. More than 20 per cent in this industry are new immigrants and racialized workers are disproportionately represented in housekeeping, home care and related occupations. (https://cupe.ca>sector-profile-health-care.
Paideia Educational Consulting and Mediation (PC&M) is committed to promoting an Integrative Eldercare and Transformative Mediation practice in British Columbia and across Canada. It is time for a new vision on healthy aging. I optimistically expect the pubic to quickly embrace Integrative Eldercare and Transformative Mediation. It seems only a reasonable next step.
The Psycho-educational Consultant-Transformative Mediator takes the primary responsibility for intake, facilitating “the conversation” between all the parties in the mediation, providing outreach to other professionals, providing education and training to the general public about our Integrative Eldercare and Transformative Mediation
The Lawyer-Mediator is responsible for providing legal information, ensuring that all necessary legal issues are addressed, co-mediating, providing education and training to the general public about our Integrative Eldercare and Transformative Mediation
The Financial Analyst is responsible for explaining different financial options, providing cash flow analysis and projections, simplifying complex financial scenarios, and providing education and training to the general public about our Integrative Eldercare and Transformative Mediation practice.
The Registered Clinical Counselor is responsible for providing emotional support, surfacing hidden emotional issues, helping the parties to resolve them and providing education and training to the general public about our Integrative Eldercare and Transformative Mediation.
Why hasn’t Integrative Eldercare and Transformative Mediation with older adults, their family and caregivers swept the world of litigated disputes with represented parties? While the transformative approach has succeeded in the US Postal Service workplace mediation program, and while some community mediation centers and family mediators have embraced it, the realm of civil litigation continues to be dominated by far more directive approaches. Integrative Transformative Mediation can and should be used when there are lawyers involved in Elder Mediation. Intergenerational Eldercare and Transformative Mediation is a preventative, respectful, and focused process. My practice is a multi-disciplinary, multi-party, multi-issue and intergenerational wellness model designed to transform the experience of people in their fifties and older to live their life with purpose and connectivity.
What is transformative mediation?
Transformative mediation is based on the belief that the disputing parties are best able to decide whether and how to resolve their dispute. Empowerment and recognition are emphasized – that is, the mediation empowers the parties to effectively express themselves and encourages them to recognize the reasons for others' actions. Transformative Mediation supports improved communication between older adults and those who care about and for them, and it avoids unnecessary litigation.
How is Directive/Evaluative mediation different?
Many lawyers have experience with the "directive" or “evaluative” mediation model. These mediators are trained to emphasize settlement and move parties toward that goal. They set participation guidelines and may take a leading role in the discussions. They are solution-oriented and are actively involved in defining both the problem and its solution. They lead the process and draw the parties’ attention away from emotion and towards solution of the immediate conflict. Long-term effects upon the parties’ relationship are not an area of direct focus. They are trained to suggest possible outcomes and to evaluate the parties’ relative positions. They often separate the parties into individual discussions (caucuses) in order to keep them moving in the direction the mediator believes has the best opportunity for reaching a settlement. The mediator declares success when both parties sign a settlement agreement.
What does a transformative mediator do?
Transformative mediators believe that conflict presents opportunities for individuals to change (transform) their interactions with others. Disputing parties can make their own decisions and gain perspective over their situations. The parties set their own agenda and decide what to discuss. The transformative mediator supports the process, summarizes discussions, clarifies issues, and promotes confidence in making decisions. The transformative mediator achieves this by “reflecting,” “summarizing,” “checking in,” and by asking “open ended questions.” Anything outside of that scope does not fit into the transformative framework. The mediation is considered successful when the parties participate in interactive communication that results in a clearer understanding of their situation and each other’s perspective. Often, this leads to resolution of the dispute.
What will a transformative mediator refrain from doing?
Transformative mediators will not direct the content of the mediation, will not “gather” information for settlement purposes and will not take an active role in the decision-making process. Instead, they support the parties with the process. They will not push the parties towards settlement, even if they believe they “know” how the case can fairly settle. “Forced” settlements do not resolve the underlying conflict. They will not suggest whether one party’s viewpoint has more merit than the other’s. They will not comment on the strength or weakness of either party’s case or on the status of the law or company policy. Transformative mediators will not discourage the parties from exhibiting their emotions. Seeing the other party's emotional response may allow parties to better understand the impact of their words and actions.
The Value of Pre-Mediation: Pre-mediation can accomplish important objectives including building trust, answering questions about the mediation process and defining roles (parties, lawyer, and mediator), While a pre-mediation in non-elder issues may not be of utmost importance, it is vital in elder mediation: “Pre-mediation is also important in multi-party mediations, such as in: extended family disputes or elder care issues, where there may be two or more families and their expert representatives (such as social workers) involved.” A New Vision for Healthy Aging http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/seniors-aines/publications/public/healthy-sante/vision/vision-bref/index-eng.php, 2009
Shurven, Helen, 2001, Pre-mediation for Mediators, ADR Bulletin (Bond University) Volumn12 N.6, p.121
Public Awareness of Integrative Eldercare and Transformative Mediation in Vancouver and Vancouver Island
The Mission of Paideia Consulting & Mediation's Integrative Eldercare and Transformative Mediation Program is two-fold. First, our Mission is to make available an Integrative Eldercare and Transformative Mediation process for older British Columbians, their families, caregivers, support organizations their staff and professionals that support empowerment of the aged by including all voices in the process.
Secondly, Integrative Eldercare and Transformative Mediation will enhance collaboration with existing local entities and Provincial agencies to maximize outreach efforts regarding elder justice by making transformative mediation services available as an alternative to existing directive and facilitative methods of dispute resolution.
Who: Our team of integrative eldercare and transformative mediator professionals include a Transformative Elder Mediator, Family Lawyer, Registered Clinical Counselor, and Registered Financial Planner.
What: Paideia Consulting and Mediation provides education to families, eldercare facilities, public health authorities, and professionals regarding Integrative Eldercare and Transformative Mediation in Vancouver and on Vancouver Island.
Why: As private practitioners in the field of mediation over the past fifteen years, we have been challenged along with other professional colleagues to increase Public Awareness of Eldercare and Elder Mediation in Vancouver and on Vancouver Island. We have been gratified to see awareness grow due to the work of many individuals and professional advocacy groups such as Judy McCann-Beranger in Newfoundland, Elder Mediation International Network and Family Mediation Canada.
OUR PRACTICE OF INTERGRATIVE ELDERCARE and TRANSFORMATIVE MEDIATION encourages and engages conversations that are multi-party, multi-issue, multi-agency and intergenerational:
For Agencies, Facility Administrators, Provincial Health Authorities;
- What are your most pressing eldercare issues getting in the way of?
- What will relief or resolution of these pressing eldercare problems allow you to do or accomplish?
- Ugly interchanges between elder parents and siblings over unresolved issues, leaving everyone feeling like they’re walking on eggshells.
- Elderly parents who feel alienated from their children or other family members and helpless to change the dynamics.
- Elderly adults who are experiencing abuse or neglect and feel fearful that the adults in their life can’t help.
- Financial abuse of older people.
- Driving and independence.
- Housing and living arrangements.
- Issues of ageism and privilege
- Managing caregiver conflicts.
- Intergenerational family disputes
Benefits of Integrative Eldercare and Transformative Mediation
- Support for the entire family when times are difficult.
- Promotes communication between and among all who participate.
- Prevention of elder abuse and neglect.
- Reduces stress in family systems.
- Enhances the functionality of the family support network.
- Application of Transformative Elder Mediation of age-related issues appears to result in significant cost savings to families, to organizations and to government.
- Transformative Elder Mediation of the aged can significantly delay the entry into institutionalized care.
WE ARE HERE TO ASSIST FAMILIES, AGENCIES, RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES AND GOVERNMENT.
Call Us Now!!
Charles Boehm-Hill, M.Ed., M.A. Transformative Elder Mediator,
Certificate of Family Mediation Canada Membership
FREE CONSULTATION - 604.649.2385 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss the many ways we can help you! CALL NOW!
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