California Assisted Living Association – High Conflict Presentation

Earlier this month, I gave a seminar in Santa Clara, California, to a new audience – assisted living administrators and staff – with Marcia Haber, Esq., who I had worked with once before on an Elder Mediation training. People working in assisted living facilities deal with clients with mental incapacities, co-workers under stress and family members who can range from simply worried to those with serious problems of their own, such as personality disorders. Assisted living facilities are a relatively new development in society, and so they are facing a lot of expectations that are not necessarily realistic. When you add several family members, you increase the likelihood that at least one of them will have a personality disorder and may become preoccupied with blaming others. Add to this, the many divorced and step-parent families, in which there are two or three different sets of adult children, who never grew up together and may have grown up feeling quite resentful of each other, with a shared and unavailable parent – or two! For the past few years, I have begun to speak to groups involved with Elder Law, Elder Care and Elder Mediation. As one lawyer said, when I questioned whether my divorce-related high-conflict information would be relevant: “Bill, you’ve dealt with high-conflict parents fighting over their children in divorce for decades. Well, it’s very similar in Elder Law, except that you have high-conflict adult children fighting over their now-dependent parents!” And high-conflict adult children have been consistently reported to me as the most difficult part of working with elders, including in assisted living facilities. I am told: “The residents are sweet, occasionally grumpy, or cognitively limited, but they are not usually a serious source of stress. We know they have limitations and we are set up to deal with them. It’s the family members who give us the most stress. Give us tools for dealing with them, when they want to suddenly holler at us for problems we’ve been addressing all along or minor problems that don’t require us to panick. Often, they just feel guilty for having  their parent in a “home,” so they try to cope by being overly-bossy about what we should be doing.”

California Assisted Living Association is a high-energy organization, which is trying to educate the public about the existence of and supervision of high-quality care communities. Just watching their awards ceremony at their conference this month, I was quite impressed. They really demonstrated a sincere commitment to honoring their employees for the hard work that they do, and to their managers for coping with limited resources and multiple demands.

Training staff for dealing with such a wide range of problems is a top priority in this relatively new field. Marcia Haber and I are developing trainings to assist them in developing conflict competency skills, and especially skills for dealing with high-conflict situations. I look forward to assisting those involved in assisted living work. After all, someday we all may need their services!

High Conflict Institute provides training and consultations, as well and books, DVDs and CDs regarding dealing with High Conflict People (HCPs) in legal, workplace, educational, and healthcare disputes. Bill Eddy is the President of the High Conflict Institute and the author of It’s All Your Fault!, Splitting, BIFF: Quick Responses to High Conflict People, Their Hostile Emails, Personal Attacks and Social Media Meltdowns and Don’t Alienate the Kids! He is an author, attorney, mediator, and therapist. Bill has presented seminars to attorneys, judges, mediators, ombudspersons, human resource professionals, employee assistance professionals, managers, and administrators in 25 states, several provinces in Canada, France, Sweden, and Australia. For more information about High Conflict Institute, our seminars and consultations, Bill Eddy or to purchase a book, CD or DVD, visit: