Lawrie Parker, Executive Director
Piedmont Dispute Resolution Center
November 21, 2013
give service providers conflict
management strategies that can
be used in a variety of
provide information on
professional mediation in elder
The following concerns reflect some of the most
difficult issues in the lives of older adults and
Future health and personal care
Landlord and neighbor difficulties
Communication and caretaking responsibilities among
siblings and/or service providers
Bill paying, home upkeep and repair, financial planning
Trusts and inheritance
End of life decision-making
Driving restrictions and transportation challenges
Health care proxies and power of attorney
Assisted living and nursing homes
Fair use of family resources
Tension among parents, children, and grandchildren all
presence of conflict is a sign of a poor
service provider or poorly managed business.
is a sign of low concern for the
elder, his/her family, or the situation.
is negative and destructive.
if left alone, will take care of itself.
must be resolved.
best kind of conflict is the kind that
is ‘nipped in the bud. Awareness and early
intervention are two key components in
the conflict management toolbox.
tension and dissatisfaction erode
positive relationships, effective conflict
management helps promote
harmony, cooperation and success.
come in all sizes and shapes. There
is the casual disagreement, or blip, between
two people who generally like each other
and get along.
There is the more serious disagreement that
has been smoldering for awhile and is
beginning to erode mutual respect and trust.
This type of conflict can be categorized as a
Then there is the deeper conflict, called a
conflict crisis, that can potentially escalate
into serious consequences. Each type of
conflict calls for a specific set and level of
conflict resolution skills.
While complex conflicts and conflict crises
require the intervention of professional
mediators, with the proper training and
support materials, blips and clashes can be
handled directly by service providers and/or
family members. A conflict resolution
technique called Self Mediation can, in fact,
be handled by the disputing parties, without
intervention of a third party.
Managerial Mediation, another conflict
resolution technique, requires the
participation of a manager. After the
manager calls a preliminary meeting with the
parties in conflict, he or she arranges for and
conducts a mediation meeting to address the
issues at hand.
The focus is on the
future and the
solution to the
problem is created by
and agreed to by the
Both Self Mediation and
involve easily learned
techniques and conflict
management skills that
can be taught in
short, one-day seminars.
For many, these conflict
resolution skills are
competencies in today’s
INCOMPLETE COMMUNICATION: I/he/she did not hear the whole
INACCURATE INFORMATION: At least one of us/them has the
STRESS OVERLOAD: At least one of us/them was confused,
overloaded, and stressed
DIFFERENT VIEWPOINTS: We/they see things differently. They
have different beliefs or values
LIMITED RESOURCES: We/ they can’t have it all because there is
not enough to go around
UNMET PSYCHOLOGICAL NEEDS: My/his/her need for identity,
security, recognition, control, or fairness is threatened.
the people from the problem.
Be soft on the people and hard on the problem.
on interests, not positions.
When positions look incompatible, look at interests.
options for mutual gain.
Work for a win/win approach.
a fair process.
Process is just as important as the outcome.
Talk with others, not about them.
What We State
What We Want
What We Must Have
In professional mediation, a neutral third
party (mediator) helps to facilitate
conversation in a positive, productive way so
that family members and service providers
can reach workable solutions. Mediation
works on strengthening the family
relationship. It also decreases
stress, arguments, it saves time and
money, gives closure, and enhances
Professional Elder Mediation experts
understand the complex family
dynamics, unique circumstances and high
emotions that accompany difficult
conversations and challenging decisions. In
the initial phone call, the mediator will
listen as you share the challenges facing you
and the family and they will answer
questions about the mediation process
the parties to a mutually
Mediators are not judges or
arbitrators and have no power to
decide who wins or loses.
Mediators are not counselors or
I need an attorney? You are welcome to
bring an attorney if you need expert
advice, but it is not required.
mediation confidential? With very few
exceptions, mediation is entirely
do I get the family on board? The
mediator can help you determine the best
way to invite family members to be a part of
The Virginia Association for Community
Conflict Resolution (VACCR) can direct you
to a non-profit mediation center in your
Visit: www.vaccr.org or call 1-888-VAPEACE
You can call the Dispute Resolution Services
office at the Virginia Supreme Court at
804.768.6455. For general mediation in