The Eden Alternative in Care Communities

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In the early 1990s, Dr. Bill Thomas received a grant from the State of New York to pilot his vision for breathing new life into nursing homes. Originally called “The Dementia Project,” this grant-funded initiative was his first opportunity to translate the Eden Alternative Ten Principles into meaningful action. For three years, Co-Founders Bill and Jude Thomas worked side-by-side to fine tune the Eden Alternative Philosophy. Their efforts laid the foundation for the development of Certified Eden Associate Training, as a means for sharing this inspiring approach to care with other nursing homes.

Implementation of The Eden Alternative now impacts the physical environment, organizational structure, and psycho-social interactions of nursing homes, short-term rehabilitation, assisted living communities, and other residential care environments. Individual Principles highlight and guide different pieces of an organization’s implementation of person-directed care.  All aspects of daily operations are reconsidered and re-framed to focus first on the unique needs and preferences of the individuals who live and work there. In establishing goals for personal and organizational growth, organizations must consider how to best live out each Principle to benefit the overall well-being of Elders and their care partners, as well as the organization as a whole.

The departmentalized, task-orientation of institutional models has created a culture in long-term care that is characterized by pessimism and cynicism. By moving away from top-down bureaucratic approaches to management and moving decision-making closer to the Elders themselves, Edenizing organizations are creating a vibrant, empowered existence for the Elders they serve and the people who work closely with them in residential care environments.