Fairweather Lodge - Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Community/Fairweather Lodge Program?

The Community Lodge Program helps people reintegrate themselves into the community. Its goal is to provide emotional support, a place to live, and employment for its members. The program was developed by Dr. George Fairweather in California in 1963 as a result of extensive experimental research. In his studies, Dr. Fairweather found that people with serious mental illness are less likely to return to the hospital when they live and work together as a group, rather than live and work individually. His research also showed that the Lodge Program helps people stay in the community longer, provides more employment opportunities, and costs less than conventional treatment programs. Because of the success of the original groups, the Community Lodge Program has expanded considerably during the past 25 years, and there are now Lodges across the nation.

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How Does A Lodge Get Started?

Historically, lodges most often started with a group of hospital patients who volunteer to become Lodge members. These patients were divided into groups whose members vary in skills and capabilities. Groups elect leaders and work together to develop group problem solving abilities. The goal of the group is to utilize the small group problem solving process to generate solutions.

This type of group problem solving helps most individuals complete their treatment programs more quickly than they would do otherwise. Also, the ability to solve problems together is crucial to the group's survival as a working lodge in the community.

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How Does A Lodge Operate?

Typically lodges are small groups of 4 to 8 people who share a house and own a small business. Each group must select a business to operate, for which they will develop and implement a business plan. Lodge groups' businesses have included lawn care, custodial or laundry services, printing, furniture building, shoe repair, catering, and other services. Lodge members assume specific positions of responsibility within the household and the business-for example, the business may have a manager and a crew chief; the household, a cook and a medication supervisor. There are no live-in staff members at any Lodge, although each lodge has access to a professional who is available for training and consultation whenever the group requests his or her help. Staff members are also on call 24 hours a day for emergencies. In addition, Lodge members hire professional consultants-such as accountants and lawyers-to assist with Lodge business operation. Responsibility for the house and business improves the member's self-confidence and helps them become more independent by giving them a stable roll in the community.

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What About Family Members?

A Lodge group can become as close-knit as a family; however, most members still consider their own families as one of their main sources of social support. Lodge members often spend week-ends and holidays with their families and keep in contact through letters and phone calls. Very often they enjoy the reinforcement and encouragement given by their families, who, in turn, feel proud of the member's progress and ability to live and work in the community. In this way, the reintegration into the community promoted by the Lodge can have a very positive influence on the members's relationships with their families.

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What Does The Future Hold For The Community Lodge Program?

Currently there are more than 90 Lodges in 16 states, each one finding its way in the community and continually searching for the "best" way to promote and implement the Fairweather principles of independence and autonomy. The dynamic nature of the lodge society necessitates the ongoing search for new, effective methods to serve the multiple needs and desires of the members.

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What Are The Program Principals?

13 Original Fairweather Principles

  1. Members must have a stake in the system.
  2. The system must give as much autonomy to its members as is possible, consistent with their behavioral performance.
  3. The subsystem should have a vertical organization so that both a division of labor is possible and a meaningful role can be found for all members.
  4. Any created subsystem must be compatible with the environment in which it is implanted. Its internal social organization and its physical location must be compatible with the broader society.
  5. The subsystems designed must establish internal norms that are tolerant of the deviant behavior that is normative for that group.
  6. A communication system needs to be devised for each subsystem for continuous information feedback to members about their performance.
  7. Mobile entry and exit from the subsystem should be possible without penalty to the individual.
  8. Persons should perform as groups wherever possible.
  9. Only a limited number of people should participate in the subsystem.
  10. New social subsystems need to be implanted in the community so they are not dependent for their existence upon the good will of the community in which they are implanted.
  11. The subsystem must be arranged that individuals may substitute for other individuals when required.
  12. The subsystem should emphasize equally both rehabilitative and work norms.
  13. Person must establish an appropriate mechanism for handling medication.
  • Options for promotion and rising to a higher status must be provided.
  • Values of the larger society should be reflected.
  • Tolerance of harmless individual idiosyncrasies must be established.
  • Feedback must be provided on the problem-solving abilities of the consumers.
  • Open entry and exit for consumers must be provided.
  • Both rehabilitative and work norms should be supported.
  • Program should not be dependent on good will of the community in which it exists.
  • An ongoing method to handle daily living problems needs to be implemented.

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