April 1995 // Volume 33 // Number 2 // Ideas at Work // 2IAW3

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One Stop Shopping Education

Consumers want one stop shopping education, and Cooperative Extension staff members needs to plan their programs from this perspective. This article shares ways in which the Benton County office of the Oregon State University Extension Service incorporated the one stop shopping concept into the planning and execution of their Aging Family Members Conference.

Donna M. Gregerson
Extension Home Economist
Internet address: gregers@bent.oes.orst.edu

Vicki L. Schmall
Former Extension Gerontologist

Oregon State University
Corvallis, Oregon

Consumers are looking for the same convenience, value, time saving, and selection in educational programming as they find in the one-stop shopping marketing approach of department/food stores. That's the lesson that the Benton County office of the Oregon State University (OSU) Extension Service and a community coalition learned. "Thanks for offering so much at one manageable time," was a phrase often repeated in an evaluation by participants of the Aging Family Members: Meeting the Challenge, all day conference. Recognizing that a change affecting an elderly family member can affect the entire family, the goal of this program was to give families information and tools to begin planning with and for their aging members.

The conference format consists of a keynote presentation, twelve different workshop sessions from which a participant can select three, and a closing program. The workshops offered vary each year but have included: Dealing with Dementia, Getting Treatment for Depression, Long Distance Caregiving, Medications in Later Life, Preserving Your Memory, What Do These Behavior Changes Mean, Coping with Negative Attitudes, How to Talk to the Doctor, Advance Directives, Loss and Grief in Later Life and Paying for Long-Term Care.

Even though one participant lamented, "I was truly sorry that I couldn't send a separate part of me to each of the twelve sessions," many more commented on how much they appreciated the variety and selection of workshops offered. Participants, just like shoppers, want choices. They indicated the conference helped them to see the "total picture"--their own and their aging family member's perceptions of situations.

Community agencies/organizations were invited to have information tables about aging related programs and services they provide. These staffed tables added to the "one-stop shopping approach." Meeting professionals who provided services and assistance to the elderly was reassuring to many. "Knowing there is help out there and more about how to find and get it," and "Gave me an opportunity to meet health care professionals and to evaluate them as to future contact if and when the need arises" were frequently cited as another major benefit of the conference.

All OSU Extension Gerontology publications are available for purchase during the conference. In addition, conference participants receive a packet of information so they have resources to take home with them. As one participant stated, "I was able to gather an incredible amount of information in a short time." Another participant commented that the written information provided at the conference was an invaluable resource to other family members who were not able to attend the conference, when the family faced decisions about the aging father.

Conference participants were provided a real "sale" item in the registration fee. Fees were $10.00 for the first registrant and $5.00 for each additional family member. This "buy one at the regular price and get the second for half price," encourages more members in a family to attend.

The opportunity for networking was cited as another major benefit of the full-day conference. Participants' comments included: "Made me realize that I am not alone," and "It really helped talking with someone else in the same position." Sharing among participants was not the only type of communication stimulated. For example, one participant stated, "My husband and I started to talk about our own aging process and our older family members."

The elderly are a fast growing segment of our population and older adults and their families do face tough decisions regarding their care. A one-stop shopping educational event such as the Aging Family Members conference "brings people with similar concerns, problems and ideas together" and "one can find help here in one day and for little money where otherwise it would cost much more in time and money to seek help by oneself." Busy people like one stop shopping education.