The Eden Alternative philosophy

By combating loneliness, helplessness and boredom we reduce most of the suffering experienced by our Elders or residents in Aged Care, through the Eden Alternative.

There is one problem statement – Principle One - which is all about the three plagues of loneliness, helplessness and boredom.  The other Nine Principles identify the challenges and the solutions to providing a person-centred care environment for all residents.

The 10 Principles

  1. The three plagues of loneliness, helplessness, and boredom account for the bulk of suffering among our Elders.
  2. An Elder-centred community commits to creating a human habitat where life revolves around close and continuing contact with plants, animals, and children. It is these relationships that provide the young and old alike with a pathway to a life worth living.
  3. Loving companionship is the antidote to loneliness. Elders deserve easy access to human and animal companionship.
  4. An Elder-centred community creates opportunity to give as well as Receive care. This is the antidote to helplessness.
  5. An Elder-centred community imbues daily life with variety and spontaneity by creating an environment in which unexpected and unpredictable interactions and happenings can take place. This is the antidote to boredom.
  6. Meaningless activity corrodes the human spirit. The opportunity to do things that we find meaningful is essential to human health.
  7. Medical treatment should be the servant of genuine human caring, never its master.
  8. An Elder-centred community honours its Elders by de-emphasizing top-down bureaucratic authority, seeking instead to place the maximum possible decision-making authority into the hands of the Elders or into the hands of those closest to them.
  9. Creating an Elder-centred community is a never-ending process. Human growth must never be separated from human life.
  10. Wise leadership is the lifeblood of any struggle against the three plagues. For it, there can be no substitute.

Definition of Elder: Born earlier; older person; elders are revered, honoured and cherished for their wisdom.

Through the Eden Alternative, individuals and organisations can make a difference in the way we give and receive care to Elders/Residents in Aged Care and Community Care environments.  It has been found that through the Eden Alternative journey staff in partnership with their Elders create lives worth living.

Eden Home Registration Process

Becoming a registered Eden home or community care organisation in Australia and New Zealand is an opportunity for organisations to demonstrate their commitment to mastering the Eden Alternative to benefit their residents, with initial Eden Registration being valid for three years. This is different from the Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency (ACSAA) accreditation process. Eden registered homes have added benefits for the ACSAA standards, which are mainly found in Standard three, Resident lifestyle, and Standard One, management systems, staffing and organisational development.

All homes or community care centres wanting to be a part of the Eden Registry must have a minimum number of Eden Associates within their staff mix depending upon the size of the facility or organisation. Currently at prom Country Aged Care Inc. we have five trained Eden Associates, and plan to have the majority of the staff trained over the next two years.

There is an expectation that once staff training has commenced with the nationally accredited course “Implementing Eden Alternative in Aged Care” organisations and homes will apply for all 10 Eden Principles over time.

Phase 1: It is recommended that homes and community care organisations initially focus on Principles 2 & 10

Phase 2: Principles 3, 4, and 5

Phase 3: Principles 6, 7 8

Phase 4: Principles 9 & 1 as the last.

Membership to the Eden Registry ensures that over time, all homes, community care centres and organisations gain recognition in all 10 Eden Principles.  Re-registration for homes actively supporting the Eden Alternative is also required every three years.  This ensures that the journey is never ending…it is a lifelong commitment.

An example from “Being Eden”

Wise leadership encourages all culture change agents and warriors to continue to challenge, innovate and implement the Eden Alternative.  Sometimes we throw up our hands and say “it’s all too hard”.  When the going gets tough…the tough don’t quit!!!  This poem below created by a group in NZ may give you some heart.

If it weren’t for Eden where would you be?
You’d be frustrated or even lonely!
You would have a dose of the blues and be full of misery,
If we don’t Edenise our community.
Come on play the game, increase opportunities,
Open up the doors to your societies.
Bring all your pets, kids and families
And we’ll Edenise our communities.
If you’re feeling helpless and wanting lots of care
Go to an Eden Home and we will be there.
So come along, you’ve got nothing to fear,
But you may be expected to brush your own hair!
If it weren’t for Eden where would you be?
You’d be frustrated or even lonely!
You would have a dose of the blues and full of misery,
If you’re not in an Eden Community.

Please do not hesitate to contact me should you require further discussion about any aspect of residential aged care. As I have said in previous columns, going into aged care residential services is not a death sentence; it is just a change of address. With the Eden Alternative Philosophy it is also a journey of change to resident focussed care, a journey of living and life.