pdf The winding path: A cooperative board game helping volunteers and professionals to work together to support the elderly

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The MAFF project (Making Social agencies fit for the future) developed an interactive game adapted to helping volunteers and professionals to work together.

The volunteers are members of a elderly care organisation who befriend and support the elderly. They were the subject of a study conducted earlier on in the project.

The professionals in question care and support the elderly in their work. They are health professionals in geriatric hospitals, residential homes and in the community (doctors, nurses, care attendants, psychologists..) and social work professionals (social workers, facilitators and leisure activity coordinators, managers of community care services, home helps..).

Cooperation between these groups is essential for the success of the overall support programme for older, isolated and often dependent or severely disabled people and should be pursued in both domiciliary and residential settings. Such cooperation does not come easily, influenced as it may be by mutual (mis)representations, the weight of different initial qualifications and experience, by the different “ways” of working peculiar to each profession and by natural resistance to change.

Such cooperation is sought after, nevertheless, in the new French social, health and medical-social schemes. The onus is on us then to provide the partners in the field with the tools to help them analyse and decode problems and thus achieve such cooperation more easily.

When we began working on this project it soon became clear that the handbook-tool should be interactive. It should make the players want to work together. It should help them to exchange ideas on practice and it should be amusing. For all of these reasons, we decided to opt for a board game, but not just any board game. We turned to the field of cooperation and designed a cooperative tool. The result of the work was a game called “The Winding Path”.

The aims are:

1) To encourage understanding of each other’s roles and mutual recognition of the value of the work done by volunteers and members of the caring professions supporting the elderly.

2) To provide the participants with the necessary information so they can learn more about techniques and the context of care of older people.

3) To seek and work out together practical solutions to improve the well-being of all concerned. It also aims to

a) Examine the representations the participants have of the elderly, their environment and the support provided and help change how partners see each other.

b) Clarify each other’s area of competence and responsibilities

c) Raise awareness of just how interdependent we are.

d) Abandon rivalry and competition so as to work better in the interests of all.

e) Build and reinforce better relations between all the parties involved in supporting the elderly.