ENGAGEMENT Company: Benchmark Program: The Village at Buckland Court Adult Educational Program

In order to better serve their residents, many providers are moving away from “one size fi ts all” programming. Community leaders at Benchmark’s The Village at Buckland Court found that over time, the interests and abilities of their residents had diverged to the point that one set of programming no longer suited the entire resident population. Community leaders looked for ways to

keep the more independent residents better engaged. Their forward-thinking solution was to get them actively involved in planning an adult educational program that would be intellectually stimulating and appeal to their current interests. Adult education is an eff ec- tive way for communities to help residents remain active, engaged, and connected to what matters most in their lives. To design the program, the community

invited residents to join an Adult Education Council aimed at defi ning their educational needs and wants. All residents were invit- ed to attend a series of four meetings, each with a specifi c agenda. In addition, residents were surveyed to determine the interests they shared and which specifi c topics and programs they might be interested in learn- ing more about. Using the information gathered at the

meetings and through the surveys, the Council planned a semester-long program of courses on a variety of subjects. One or two classes were offered each day at the community. The fi rst semester lasted from October

through December 2018 and included 35 classes on subjects such as Music Theory, Advanced Acrylics, Exploring the Cre- ative Writer in You, Touring the Gala- pagos Islands, and Wine Tasting 101: An Introduction. As part of the educational series, the

community organized tours of Mashan- tucket Pequot Museum and Research Cen- ter to learn about Native American history and life in the region. They also arranged bus excursions to the Wadsworth Athenae- um, the Connecticut Freedom Trail, the


Nathan Hale Homestead Museum, and the Connecticut Historical Museum. Classes are off ered in person, online, and

in experiential settings. The mix of formats has been positively received by the residents. Several residents have also served as instruc- tors, giving them a unique opportunity to share their knowledge and interests with other residents. Although most senior living communities

off er continuing education classes, the Vil- lage at Buckland Court program is innova- tive in its use of direct input from residents to plan the course off erings. Benchmark’s mission is to elevate human connection, and this program serves that goal by bringing residents together to share their common in- terests and design their own programming. An unexpected benefi t has been strength- ened relationships and newfound friendships among residents because of these shared ex- periences. Having residents involved from the beginning also fosters a feeling of investment that results in greater participation.

“At Benchmark and at The Village at

Buckland Court, we truly believe that we are better together and this is a fi ne example of our associates and residents coming to- gether to create something we can all share in and grow from together and as individu- als,” said Doug Murphy, executive director of The Village at Buckland Court. The program has fulfilled its intend-

ed goals. It has led to higher engagement among residents as well as their family mem- bers. Residents have formed new friendships through the planning process and the classes themselves. It also fulfi lls Benchmark’s goal of keeping residents’ minds active and en- gaged in lifelong learning. Community leaders will continue to collect

feedback through the Council and from class participants. The program will be updated regularly to refl ect the changing needs and desires of the residents. Eventually the classes may be opened to seniors living outside the community. The second semester begins in March 2019.

Credit Joshua Karim MARCH/APRIL 2019 ARGENTUM.ORG 47

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