Good Practice: Collaborative Assemblies

Collaborative Assemblies

Organisation    Residencia Fundación Intras Toro
Country Spain
Short description Collaborative assemblies are a participative space promoting decision-making on everyday issues for those living in the residence. They empower participants in terms of equality and respect. Moreover, the collaborative assemblies support the creation of horizontal relationships.  

It is a collective area that promotes human rights, where people can discuss their different points of view, as well as sharing their vital experiences.

Collaborative assemblies create a participative space in order to encourage the empowerment of the residents.  

The general objective is to empower people who participate in the activity by increasing responsibility, as well as to promote autonomous decision making in any issue that will affect their life projects. 

As operational objectives, the following statements should be pointed out:
  • Encourage residents about their responsibility and their actions, taking their own initiatives into account. 
  • Work on a sense of belonging.
  • Create and increase horizontal relationships.
  • Boost the self-confidence of the residents. 
Co-productive activities Considering that co-production refers to the process where a service is built up by users and professionals working together for this purpose, Collaborative Assemblies are constituted as a co-production activity focused on the empowerment of the residents and the sharing of the “expert-role” between professionals and residents.

This activity is realised twice a week. It has become a trust and respectful space where residents can allow themselves to express their feelings and interests for their daily development in a residential institution.

Active and constant participation in these kind of services suppose an active involvement into the changing process of their life project. This activity involves important issues and skills as individual and collective responsibility assumption, which are the main objectives essential to reaching the maximum autonomy level possible.

As protagonists of the activity, they exercise their right to decide about any issue that affects their everyday life and that they find important.

Attending to this philosophy, participating in this activity is totally voluntary. Both residents and professionals participate in the assemblies. The main issues that are debated in these meetings are usually:
  • Weekly menu: they propose some menus which they would love to eat. Later, they are sent to the kitchen staff, who would study the possibility to cook them attending to their options and the diet plans of the residents.
  • Difficulties in living together/ sharing spaces and how to deal with them. Tips, how to improve it, having respect to each other… Healthy social habits and attitudes are settled on.
  • Collaborative household chores are distributed (taking out the trash, recycling, common areas cleaning and keeping, gardening, taking care of pets, checking the mailbox…
  • They propose how they would like to spend their leisure time, what they would love to visit in and outside the town and some trips they think that would be great to do.
  • They also recall the local culture, social and educational possibilities that the town offers. 
  • To conclude the assembly, they sum up the main issues that have been debated and they set the next meeting date. They start a new document, where they write the new issues that will be debated on the next assembly.
Once the assembly is over, the person in charge of the assembly writes the meeting minutes, what has been discussed and the most important issues as well as any proposal or suggestion that has been considered during the meeting. Residents have a leading role and professionals are meant to become part of the process as a parallel actor. 
Underlying theories Residents are the starring actors of this service. They totally integrate it, as creators, designers, managers and evaluators of the service. Assemblies are created with the aim of empower residents, to make them participate in their own recovery process and transforming their passive role in the decision making, into an active one, being able to create a cohabitating project.
It is supposed to be a trustful space, where residents can express themselves freely and in an autonomous way, without worrying about possible rejections or judgements.
This activity promotes assertiveness, communication process and social skills in the residents, that will allow them to evaluate the correct or most interesting option for them.

In this context, this activity is considered as judgement-free where co-productions become totally relevant. This collaboration between equals becomes a service that is oriented to them.
Horizontal relationships are the basis of this service, where professionals accompany residents along their recovery process, encouraging and facilitating decision making and empowerment.

Consequently, this service creates mainly horizontal. Understanding themselves as the relation created between residents collaborating for a common goal. They hold conversations, they debate and discuss with the aim of concluding solid statements.

These assemblies have long-term goals such as encouraging the residents to make autonomous decisions about themselves by discussing issues of their everyday life in the residence.
The capacity to make autonomous decisions oriented to their very own interests will be of great benefit for residents when they will out of the centre.

Person- centred model of care is our trail while implementing these kind of activities in the institution. Activities are based on potentials and necessities of the residents and services are created to better meet their needs. It has to be viable attending to their vital project, the consequences that its implementation will take for the institution and for their daily lives, which aspects it will empower and which benefits it will provide to residents.

In conclusion, the residents are protagonists of this co-production activity. It is worth highlighting that our professional labour is totally parallel to their process, never being intrusive into the service. The multidisciplinary team is the responsible for the accompaniment of the residents in their development, as well as the responsible for the encouragement of the residents. This activity is a platform for active process on making up autonomous decisions, letting the residents the opportunity to be part of their process, to involve themselves into it and give them the power to recover their voice into their recovery process.

Direct impact

It has been noticed that residents who participate in collaborative assemblies feel better and more confident to carry out their life in the residence. They are more involved into the residential dynamic compared to the ones that do not take part into the activity. Participants are more involved into the common projects, their relationship with professionals gets better due to the fact that they feel as part of the team… To summarize, they take an active role into their developing process.

Conclusions and results Staff member’s involvement in this activity is to orientate it instead of carrying it out, be collaborative, not paternalistic. The essential interest is to let them be the leaders of the process, the ones that take the reins of the activity development. It is in that moment when the initiative creation process is started from people´s opinion, becoming a simple suggestion into a real project that will improve their quality of life. 


It is presented as a goal that the majority of the residents participate in this activity in order to involve them into the initiatives and objectives proposed. This way, the participation of the total of the residents means a huge challenge for us. Occasionally, they propose some activities and they expect the professionals to carry out the entire process until the activity is set up, breaking up with the co-production philosophy
and Milestones
Collaborative assemblies have been in place since the opening of the centre. In the beginning it was a daily activity and later on residents decided to held the assemblies twice-a-week activity. It is important to note that the frequency can be modified by participants at any time wish they to do so.  

Before the meeting, residents prepare an agenda with the topics they would like to discuss and further explore during the assembly.