Busting Myth #1 About The Eden Alternative: Drinking the Kool-Aid

July 31, 2018
Denise Hyde

The Eden Alternative® has been around for over 20 years now. The resources and the approach have grown and transformed over time. Integrating the Principles makes a big difference in the lives of Elder, family, and employee care partners. Dr. Bill Thomas would tell you the Principles of The Eden Alternative are nothing new; they are common sense. But, even common sense may not prevent people from pausing and wondering if it could all be true. It’s from this perspective that some myths have arisen over the years that never seem to die. Well, it’s time to bust some myths!

Let’s start with the mythology that you “Have to Drink the Kool-Aid” to implement The Eden Alternative (implying it is a bad thing). This phrase engenders an awful reaction at first. It refers to a horrible event in history that caused the deaths of many people, regardless of whether it’s the speaker’s intention to evoke that memory.

What else might this phrase mean? What if it reminds us that the individuals involved in this event were so committed to their cause, no matter how misinformed, that they were willing to give all they had to make it come true? That is passion – a depth of commitment – that today is required to take on the current healthcare system and dramatically change it forever. Passion is what leaders seek from each other and the care partners they serve. Let’s bust the myth and say, “yes, and why aren’t you partaking as well? Why have you chosen not to bring your passion for Eldercare to the forefront of all you do each day?”

Read books on changing organizational culture, and the leadership skills required to do that, and you’ll see there is a need for passionate, and vocal, commitment on the part of leaders to inspire those they serve to dig deep and shift their thinking. We say leaders have to “show, not just tell” others. Changing the culture of care is more than a checklist of new actions people need to do. You cannot just regulate it into being. It is about people digging deep and understanding the assumptions, beliefs and values that drive their actions, and then challenging and changing those beliefs if they get in our way. It starts with formal leadership and spreads out from there. This is painful work, especially if you are not inspired and engaged by the leaders around you to make the effort.

The Eden Alternative offers leaders a “why it’s worth it” toolkit. We call our approach “open hearts, open minds.” Activating the passions within the hearts of care partners, opens their minds to new ways of creating community together. Passions are awakened through Eden Alternative education and individuals head back to the Elders they serve with deeper levels of commitment and energy to truly create person-centered lives. Isn’t that what we all want?

“Drinking the Kool-Aid” indicates a deep and profound engagement that leaders are seeking in the employee care partners they serve. This is the path to true person-centered care. Know someone who leans on this myth to avoid going deeper?  We invite you to start a conversation with them about lasting change and the kind of commitment that drives it.

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