Lessons from Lawn Bowling

For the first time in my life, I lawn bowled!

When I was in my twenties, I’d drive by the Seniors Centre and see the ‘old folks’ lawn bowling. I had the common misconception that lawn bowling was for old, retired people.

I’m five weeks into my relocation and starting to get my bearings. I’m trying to say YES to more things (I’m a socially selective introvert…enough said) so when I got an invite to try lawn bowling, I figured why not?

Saying yes, then stepping onto the grass to play are two different things. As I watch the seasoned members assemble and set up, I feel the first-time jitters in my stomach. I’m about to try something I have no experience or exposure to, worried if I’ll fit in or fall flat on my face (metaphorically of course.)

Thankfully I had a guide.

Mark patiently and enthusiastically explained the basics, helped ease my performance anxiety with the assurance we’re playing for learning and fun, and promised I’d have a smile on my face at the end of the game.

I was the newbie, and I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

Not only did I learn how to throw a bowl, but I also learned some of the rules and strategies to play the game. I also learned how fun, challenging, and interesting lawn bowling is! (It’s definitely better to play than to watch.)

As we were finishing, Mark took me aside and said, “I want to share a bit of etiquette to help you.” I had inadvertently let the other player know where the bowls were to the jack (the little white ball that everyone’s trying to get the closest to) but it wasn’t my place to do that.

I appreciated that he took the time to educate me, otherwise how would I have known? I thought I was being helpful. I just didn’t know what I didn’t know.

It got me thinking about the etiquette in a senior’s care community

Families are coming in brand-new. Unless they’re made aware of and educated about the etiquette and how things work, how will they know? Because families don’t know what they don’t know.

Therefore, it’s critical (and kind) that care team members “Take the Lead and Be the Guide the Families Need and Want”

When you do that, you’re helping families build connection and community in this new place where their loved one now lives – their new community. You’re also being kind.

Sharing the etiquette of your home is a way to Take the Lead and Being the Guide.

Just as Mark took the lead and was my guide by teaching me the rules of the game and the etiquette, I felt more comfortable and part of this new community through the awareness and education he provided.

Here’s a definition of etiquette I found on dictionary.com

“conventional requirements as to social behavior; proprieties of conduct as established in any class or community or for any occasion.”

How would you describe the etiquette of your home?

How do you expect families to interact with your staff? What’s the ideal way to share concerns?

What can families expect from you and your staff with how they are oriented and brought into their new community?

Etiquette is part of your culture, and it’s important and kind to share this with your families as you build your relationship, trust and teamwork as partners in care.

P.S. Here’s Mark and that smile he promised – and that bowl closest to the jack is mine! Beginners luck perhaps?


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