VILLAGE CARE FOR ALL:

A Vision of Neighbors Caring for Neighbors

Each of us needs different care to feel our best. Yet top-down cookie cutter care prevails, designed by people disconnected from us and failing to meet our many wants and needs. But village care, as we imagine it, can be custom, nimble and dynamic: designed for us from the ground up and able to respond to unplanned events and changes that occur as we age.

At Village Company 360, we aim to spread prosperity—aliveness—through village care. Especially by fostering care communities for & by neighbors of all ages in multifamily buildings.

Current situation:

  • Rising loneliness, social isolation and chronic disease rates across all ages.
  • Younger and older people segregated from each other, causing missed opportunities for everyone.
  • Fast-climbing care demands alongside care workers quitting in droves and even taking their own lives.
  • Families unable to afford professional long-term care or find good-quality care providers.
  • Family caregivers leaving jobs, losing wealth and facing health issues to manage care duties and costs.
  • Increasing despair, which is considered a health crisis as well as national security issue.

What we imagine:

  • Villages allowing older adults to live in communities and caregivers to maintain at least part-time jobs.
  • Villagers receiving medical care, at or close to home.
  • Designing our own care from mix & match services and supports, or having a care coordinator do it for us.
  • Healthcare workers starting businesses to provide services in their own neighborhoods.
  • Cost savings for neighbors and less travel for workers through cluster care: home care where people living in proximity are served by one worker or team.
  • Villages offering the best of community centers, like social, educational and cultural activities and events.

See Four Care Facts for more on our current situation.

Close family & friends = a village.
A super village is one comprised of caring neighbors.

Why look to neighbors for care?

“As a force in shaping our health, medical care pales in comparison with the circumstances of the communities in which we live.”1 Or, caring neighbors are more vital for our basic health than doctors. And by living close to us, neighbors can provide services and supports quickly and conveniently.

Why include neighbors of all ages?

People of different ages bring different things to the table. Babies, for example, excel at boosting moods, while doing activities with children reduces mortality.2 Older adults are great for giving perspective and teaching skills, and younger adults are great at hosting events and helping with chores.

Why neighbors in multifamily buildings?

Multifamily buildings are efficient and convenient places to unite people. They also tend to offer housing for people across income levels, and stair-free ways that people with wheelchairs or walkers, or in strollers or on stretchers, can come and go. But villages can work wherever neighbors exist.

Our idea of village care =
Coordinated custom care with us at the center.

BABY JOSEPH’S VILLAGE

Parents, Nana, Auntie Barb
Baby sitter
Baby food preparer
Pediatrician

ESTHER’S VILLAGE

Nuclear & church family members
Long-distance besties
Walking club
Transportation volunteers
Massage therapist
Community diabetes educator
Obstetrician

GEORGE’S VILLAGE

Wife
Poker club
Professional care coordinator
Meal Delivery Service
Cleaning & laundry crew
Primary Care Doctor
Cardiologist + her nurse
Home health aide

Custom village care will rely heavily on local resources. And neighbors—possessing a multitude of gifts, skills and interests—are among the most valuable resources of all. We imagine neighbors bolstering formal healthcare systems by providing three levels of care:

LEVEL ONE CARE:
Social & Other Supports

Individually or in groups, neighbors connecting neighbors to break bread, learn, play, exercise and more.

LEVEL TWO CARE:
General Services

Neighbors offering free and / or paid services, like cooking, cleaning, transportation and care coordination.

LEVEL THREE CARE:
Personal & Medical

Certified neighbors offering home health and nursing services as self-employed or 3rd-party providers.

Village making is about tending to 5 Pillars of Prosperity / Aliveness:
WORK :: COMMUNITY :: WISDOM :: HEALTH :: WEALTH

WORK

Doing meaningful activities regularly, whether for pay or pure pleasure.

COMMUNITY

Forging satisfying social connections, plus living in a place one likes or loves.

WISDOM

Adopting new ways of thinking to let go of suffering & attain more peace and joy.

HEALTH

Behaving in ways to maintain & improve one’s physical and mental wellness.

WEALTH

Creating confidence in one’s finances, even while making big improvements.

These pillars mean that there’s a role for everything in village making.
In addition, …

Villages come in different flavors,
so there’s a perfect kind for anyone to start or join.

Here are the main kinds that we imagine:

TINY
Villages

Comprised of 3-5 people.

AFFINITY
Villages

Organized around a theme.

VIRTUAL
Villages

Operated from anywhere.

MOBILE
Villages

Dispatched to where we live.

NEIGHBORHOOD
Villages

Formed where we live.

Tiny village making is good for folks wanting to keep things as simple as possible.

Start a tiny village by making friends with two or more neighbors (exceeding 5 members is allowed 🙂). Have fun and offer help, like walking a fellow villager’s dog or picking up an item from the store. And be sure to ask for help yourself when you need it—the answer is always “no” if you don’t.

Affinity village making is good for folks wanting to join others who love what they love.

Love singing? golfing? business building? just about anything? Start or join more than one affinity village to really pump up the prosperity in your life. Or someone else’s: if you love the idea of unsung workers feeling seen and supported, you can contribute to an affinity village focused on caring for caregivers.

Virtual village making is perfect for anyone needing (or wanting) to care from afar.

Caring face-to-face isn’t always feasible. But consider this: Good administrative support—researching services and resources, coordinating care, applying for benefits, etc.—can profoundly improve a person’s life. Virtual villagers can deliver improvements, as a free or paid service, with as little as a laptop and phone.

Mobile village making is ideal for business-minded types who like staying on the move.

“One day, hospitals will just be ERs, intensive care units and operating rooms. Everyone else will be treated at home.”3 We imagine mobile village makers—especially independently-owned and operated care teams driven by nurses—capturing a significant share of future healthcare dollars.

Neighborhood village making is a fit for folks wanting to advance in-home care.

Care demands are rising and caregivers are struggling. In-home care—delivered through technology and / or in-person services—can help to address both issues. Telemedicine, for example, is convenient for patients and can relieve caregivers from missing work and wages to drive someone to the doctor.

Village making starts with imagining.
Join us on a journey to dream up and create new kinds of care.

Broken care can feel too big to handle at times, but we emphatically believe Thomas Paine:

“We have it in our power to begin the world over again.”

Paradoxically, what we think that requires from most of us is looking softly at the world but squarely at our respective corners of it. Or tending to our own villages, as it were.

If you feel at all curious about village making the way we see it, sign up for The Village Dispatch to stay in touch with us. You’ll get our “How to Feel More Alive As a Village Maker” series as a gift, plus monthly stories with care ideas, tools and resources to help you imagine—and start making—your dream village.

Thanks for reading and please share this message by sending folks to VillageCareForAll.com.

Village Care for All was brought to you by Dr. Mary-Elizabeth Harmon, scientist turned storyteller, caregiver & founder of Village Company 360.

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THANK YOU.

References:

1. The Loneliness Epidemic; Health Resources and Services Administration at HRSA.gov
2. Social Frailty Index.
3. Home, Sweet Hospital; Johns Hopkins Medicine at HopkinsMedicine.org