425 883 9867 info@lifespan-wa.org

Membership FAQs

Thank you for your interest in learning more about becoming a member of LifeSPAN. We hope these Frequently Asked Questions will answer most of your questions. But if they don’t, please contact us at 425.883.9867 or by email: info@lifespan-wa.org.

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Why should our family consider joining LifeSPAN?

LifeSPAN (Lifetime Secure Personal Assistance Network) is a family directed organization that exists to support families to develop safe and secure futures for their relatives with disabilities.  LifeSPAN answers the questions asked by those who feel responsible for a person with a disability: “What will happen after I am gone?” and “What can I do now to make sure that my loved one is not alone when I am gone?”

We do this through the establishment of personal support networks designed to be in place for the lifetime of the individual with a disability, and by helping families develop financial and legal plans for the future.  We believe that safety and security and a good life are achieved through relationships, and we work in the community to be sure that the contributions of all members are received and acknowledged.

Our mission is a simple one: We want everyone to have a good life. We hope that you will join LifeSPAN because you would like to be part of a community with this philosophy and because you would like to work with LifeSPAN to help your family create a safe and secure future for your loved one through establishing a personal support network.

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How do I know if the person I am planning for would benefit from having a personal support network?

One of the core values of LifeSPAN is safety and security through relationships. Most of us have informal personal networks:  people we count on and confide in – people who help us out. They are our friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and relatives.

Unfortunately, many individuals who have a disability don’t experience the support provided by relationships. They can be isolated and vulnerable by reason of disability, living arrangement, limited opportunity or society’s perception.

LifeSPAN operates with the core conviction that relationships are key to a good life, and that no disability precludes relationship.  Every person with a disability is different; every family is different; and every network is different. If you are concerned that social isolation will intensify the difficulties experienced by your loved one, a personal support network may be the bridge between living on the edge versus active inclusion and participation in the community.

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What if I can’t think of anyone who would want to be on my family member’s network?

During our early consultations, LifeSPAN will help your family begin to identify potential network members who already have a relationship of some kind with your relative through family, work, church, living situation, or other apparent connections. Once a LifeSPAN facilitator is selected, that person will work closely with your family to establish the network. It is part of the facilitator’s job to approach prospective network members and to invite their participation. Additionally he or she will reach out into the community to identify potential network members based on shared passions and interests.

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How do we join LifeSPAN?

If you are thinking of joining LifeSPAN, it is important for you to take the time to become as familiar with us as possible.  We offer a number of ways through which families can do this:

Introduction to LifeSPAN – This is an informal question and answer session that is hosted by an established LifeSPAN member.

7 Steps Workshop – The most comprehensive way to become familiar with the philosophy of LifeSPAN and to learn from other families in the process of planning for your own future is to attend this workshop.

Check our Workshops page for detailed descriptions and the Calendar for listings and locations. Or email info@lifespan-wa.org. If you find you still have questions, we will put you in touch with someone who can speak to you personally.

Social activities at LifeSPAN are intended to bring our families and guests together in an informal setting. These include a summer BBQ and Winter Holiday Cookie Baking party.

Steps to Pursuing LifeSPAN Membership

If you’ve done some or most of these things and feel you are ready to pursue membership in LifeSPAN, then the next step is to contact LifeSPAN to schedule a Future Planning Consultation.

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What is the Future Planning Consultation?

The Future Planning Consultation is a process that helps a family review the current state of affairs pertaining to their relative with a disability. It takes about two hours and uses a structured interview format. The LifeSPAN representatives who conduct the consultation produce a written report for the family. If the family decides to join LifeSPAN, the Future Planning Consultation will be a key document used by LifeSPAN to help begin the process of starting a network for the family member with a disability.

LifeSPAN offers this service to all families, regardless of whether they are planning to join LifeSPAN or not.  In fact, for some families, the Future Planning Consultation has provided a good opportunity to consider whether membership in LifeSPAN fits into the family’s future plans. The cost is $200.

If you are interested in scheduling a Future Planning Consultation or to learn more about it, please email info@lifespan-wa.org.

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What happens after the Future Planning Consultation?

Following the Future Planning Consultation, the family may be ready to apply for membership in LifeSPAN. LifeSPAN currently offers two* main membership options:  Family and Lifetime Memberships.

The two membership options are similar in that they each entail creation of a personal support network, facilitation by a LifeSPAN facilitator, and LifeSPAN’s commitment to maintain that network as long as the family continues the membership in LifeSPAN. Both Family and Lifetime Members are full voting members of LifeSPAN and are encouraged to become active in the organization, serving on committees or the Board, supporting events, and being a resource to the LifeSPAN community.

The main difference between the two membership options is that with the Family Membership, it is up to the family to decide how the LifeSPAN membership and network will be financed on an ongoing basis for the duration of the life of the relative with a disability.

Comparison Of LifeSPAN Memberships

If or when the family decides to join as a Lifetime Member, the family will be required to provide a notarized copy of their will/estate language to LifeSPAN and to meet with LifeSPAN to review and update the Future Planning Consultation and Family History, as well as clarify any specific expectations of LifeSPAN for the lifetime of the Focus Person. (This can be done at any time, and at no extra cost to families.)

So, if your family is interested in joining LifeSPAN, you would complete and submit the following documents.

LifeSPAN reviews and approves the application, then contacts the family to begin the process for LifeSPAN to select a facilitator to help establish a personal support network for the family member with a disability.

*Note: A third membership option we offer is “Friend of LifeSPAN” for those who want to support LifeSPAN’s work in the community but are not planning to create a personal support network for a loved one with a disability.

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How much does it cost to join?

The initial membership fee is $1,000. This fee covers meetings with the Network Coordinator to plan for setting up the network for the focus person. The annual membership renewal is $1,100.

In addition to the annual membership fee, the family is expected to pay* for the network facilitation at a rate of $25.50/hour. The number of hours needed each year varies depending on the specific needs and desires of each family. Establishing the network may take from 20-50 hours during the first year. Facilitating an established network takes fewer hours, but the exact number will depend on how frequently the network meets and how often the family wants the facilitator to meet with the family member with a disability. On average, active LifeSPAN networks use about 28-32 hours of facilitator time a year.

Here is a chart to help you estimate costs (these are just estimates):

Membership Facilitation
Year 1 (40 hrs/Facilitation) $1,000 $1,020
Year 2 (28 hrs/Facilitation) $1,100 $714
Year 3 (32 hrs/Facilitation) $1,100 $816

*Note: The facilitation fees may be paid for by the family member with a disability if she has her own income or assets. Kathy Sellars, a founding LifeSPAN board member, strongly suggests that families consider using the person’s own assets for this purpose. She has heard of many cases of families attempting to “save” the person’s money only to find out that the person has amassed so much savings that she no longer qualifies for much-needed personal assistance.

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If we join with a Family Membership, what do we have to do to become Lifetime Members?

Your family will be asked to complete and submit to LifeSPAN the following:

LifeSPAN will then contact you to set up a meeting where you can provide a notarized copy of the relevant section of your will permitting the Trustee to pay fees to LifeSPAN (including annual membership renewal and facilitation fees) upon the death of the Lifetime Member who established the membership in LifeSPAN. This meeting will also be an opportunity to review and update the Future Planning Consultation and Family History and clarify any specific expectations for LifeSPAN.

When a family decides to put language in their will and estate documents which authorizes payments to LifeSPAN, they are also trusting LifeSPAN to carry forward the wishes, desires, family culture, and emphasis that is written into the documents we collect from LifeSPAN members with their membership. Those documents, which help us to get on the same page with living family members – and help family members get on the same page with each other – will, in the end, serve as a base of instructions for how we proceed with network development and maintenance.

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What is the advantage of becoming a Lifetime Member?

The parents’ clearly stated intention to have a personal support network as part of their relative’s life following their passing, and the long-term provision of funding for that network, will be a great comfort to a family working through the loss of beloved parents. Family members who take on the role of guardian are grateful for the support of friends and extended other family members who are already involved with the loved one and are familiar with the circumstances leading up to transition.

In the case where the guardian or trustee is not someone who can actually attend to the quality of life issues of the family member with a disability, Lifetime Membership provides reassurance to families that their relatives will always have people involved in their lives who know them, know their personalities, talents, history, family background, preferences, and passions.

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What else should we know about our role as members of LifeSPAN?

LifeSPAN is a non-profit organization made up of families who share the concern about how to help our loved ones make connections and contributions to their communities. We are committed to helping families develop peace of mind regarding the future of their relatives by knowing that they are part of a caring organization comprised of other like-minded families who will be there even when they are gone. The strength of LifeSPAN lies totally in our network of families and their connections in the community beyond.

By joining LifeSPAN, your family becomes part of that community and agrees to take on part of that mutual commitment: to be there for others in LifeSPAN when the need arises. When new families join us, you will also help generate the kind of energy and ideas we need to build LifeSPAN into a responsive community, one that will effectively serve the needs of all of our loved ones with a disability.

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What are the steps for starting a new network?

Steps for New Networks

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What are the responsibilities of a LifeSPAN Facilitator?

Facilitator Responsibilities

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