Lacey Creek has decided to focus on a topic most would consider negative when it comes to enriching lives of residents. Senior bullying has become quite the epidemic in senior housing communities across the United States. What some may dismiss as behavior that can’t be changed has been a main focus at our community.
It all started when residents brought up concerns about others saving seats in the dining room, as well as a few other people who were monopolizing the television rooms. Initially, our administrator dealt with each situation in one-on-one meetings. Then, we looked at bullying as a much more widespread issue and wanted to constructively address the problem through seminars. After a few months of research, Lacey Creek was able to secure the local ombudsman’s office to give a bullying presentation at the community.
Natasha Belli,of the DuPage County Ombudsman’s Office, spoke for more than an hour, defining what senior bullying is and what it actually looks like. Some of our staff even came to the meeting, so they could be on the same page as all the residents and know how to help them combat any issues that might arise. Residents were grateful to have the opportunity to discuss this difficult topic openly, and they began to feel more comfortable addressing bullying issues to management and on their own.
After receiving a lot of positive feedback from the residents on the seminar and seeing an opportunity for ongoing education, we decided to start hosting quarterly sessions on bullying.
At the end of one of these sessions, residents decided that they wanted to form a New Resident Committee, so people moving into Lacey Creek would not have to experience some of the challenges that they had initially. The group decided on what would be considered appropriate in terms of handling situations on their own or in terms of having management intervene when they witnessed someone being bullied.
One resident even challenged all the other residents to sit at a different table at dinner that same evening. That particular resident did and said she felt better about being able to open up a seat for someone else. Other residents went to their friends, telling them they missed a good meeting and noted they should have come, so they can learn how to be a better neighbor and improve the community.
Although Lacey Creek has not solved the bullying epidemic among seniors, we are making a conscious effort to address the issue and work on creating a community where residents feel comfortable.