Getting Started

Promoting involvement

If there is not an existing council, you will need to gauge interest and promote enthusiasm among the residents and/or families at the facility. After you have gathered information about what a council is, its benefits and some preliminary ideas about goals, you can connect with interested people in a number of ways.

  • Work with facility staff to coordinate the initial meeting
  • Look to other facilities to see if they have councils and what has worked for them
  • Create some printed material that outlines the benefits of a council and a convenient date for an information/meet and greet-use existing newsletters or other existing mechanisms to advertise your initial meeting
  • Become a presence at the facility and get to know residents, their families, friends and their concerns
  • Connect with facility staff, ask for help in getting the message to other families by distributing/posting printed materials etc
  • Attend social events at the facility and invite people personally to an initial information meeting
  • Ask people about their wish lists for the facility to stimulate conversation about possible council focus and activities
  • Conduct a survey to determine people’s concerns and their interest/ability in participating in a council

Maintaining continuity

Once a council is established it is important to maintain the momentum. Groups need a common purpose, structure, and a way to determine success. People volunteer for activities that are meaningful to them and their community and continue to participate when they feel their efforts have made a difference.

  • Agree upon common goals and develop a purpose statement for the group
  • Put a leadership structure in place such as a chair, co-chair or committee
  • Develop simple bylaws and/or terms of reference for the group
  • Establish a way for members to communicate with each other and the group as a whole; a newsletter, phone tree, internet message board etc
  • Communicate with facility staff and determine who will be the staff liaison and what that involves
  • Ensure there is an agreed upon way to run meetings and an agenda that includes "next steps"
  • From your group's common goals, determine action items and assign individuals or task groups to those actions
  • Create time on the agenda for reporting progress on projects/action items and to report and celebrate successes