The Buddy System

May 30, 2014
Denise Hyde

buddy system picI’m sitting in a small downtown park area, on a beautiful day, eating my lunch, across from the Folly Theatre in Kansas City, MO. The Second Wind Tour is blowing into town and I’m excited to be there and experience it. I’ve read the new book. I have great passion about transforming Eldercare. I’ve been engaged with the Eden Alternative Philosophy since I read Nature, Hope and the Nursing Home in 1996. This is exactly where I need to be today and what I need to help me further my growth.

Everything would be absolutely perfect except for one nagging little thing that has me stirred up. What reminds me about this irritation is a group of school children. They are heading back to school from the park. As we all did as children, they are walking two-by-two, holding hands as they navigate the sidewalk and cross the downtown streets. And I thought that is it. If only we could all remember just how safe and how “big” we all felt as we were able to walk along holding fast to a friend’s hand. It is about the connection, the partnership, the willingness to be responsible for another human being and just how important that is.

This relates to my irritation because I have recently, once again, been reminded of just how fiercely independent, and self-reliant, individuals, and especially formal organizational leaders, want to be. Why would anyone walk away from a culture change approach they have invested time, energy and money in, in order to try to create their own thing? What is the downside of partnering, or connecting, with others who are trying to go in the same direction you are? Why wouldn’t you want to bring the best of what everyone driving culture change has to offer, to the table? Wouldn’t that partnership maximize efficiency and success? I throw these questions out into the universe to see if there is some logic I am missing …

In the natural world, symbiotic relationships make both organisms stronger. Is it just because we have a reasoning brain that we believe the experience of the natural world does not apply to human beings, or their organizations? What is really great about my daily life is that I get to learn from leaders who understand the power of symbiotic relationships. I spoke this week with an organization on the east coast who is working on reducing their falls. They had emailed me about finding a peer organization that has done well who might share their experience to help them grow. They found that peer in Colorado. The two organization’s team met over the phone, shared ideas, and both of them are much stronger with reducing the risk of falling because of that collaboration. How incredible, and somewhat, unusual are those leaders? It makes sense. In this busy, out of control world, how much easier did those organizational leaders just make their lives because they were willing to reach out and take each other’s hands and cross that street together?

I believe in relationship building. That is why my designation of Community Builder is something I treasure. How incredible is it to spend your days thinking about new ways to connect people who are trying to accomplish similar goals? It is life changing for me. From the regular Registry calls, to the networking groups, to connecting people through email, to facilitating focus groups of Eden Mentors and Educators, I love practicing the buddy system in my daily life. We need more leaders willing to do that and grab the “hand” of another leader to show them it can make a difference. What about you? Who are your buddies to help you on this journey to forever change the culture of Eldercare?

If you want to learn more about how you can find a culture change buddy through Eden Registry Membership, join our free webinar on June 24, 2014 at 3pm ET. It could be just the “hand” you need!

(link to register for the webinar:


9 Comments. Leave new

Laura Beck, The Eden Alternative
May 30, 2014 10:33 am

Love this, Denise…. Two thumbs up for the buddy system!


Hello My Wise Buddy,

This post is a great example of your wisdom and leadership. Even the most dedicated formal organizational leaders on our shared journey, forget to rely and to seek help from others. Having the support and encouragement from those who care helps to avoid becoming “me directed” rather than “elder/person directed”.

Children and Elders seem to have a willingness to seek out a buddy to walk with them to provide shared companionship, strength, and even kind correction when necessary. Those of us in the middle sometime become to driven, competitive, or just to busy.

The Eden Registry and Community Builders are such a valuable tools to help navigate our path on this journey. Eden Mentors and Educators are also willing resources.
Thank you for reminding me to not make life too complicated and remember to find a hand to hold.


May 30, 2014 1:35 pm

Thank you for being my buddy, I enjoy my walk with Eden everyday because of you!


Great post! For those of us wanting to effect change, we can’t do it alone. We need partners. I’m thankful to be connected to Eden Alternative as I initiate change in elder care, specifically in rehabilitative therapy service delivery. As I move into my next steps with advocacy, these partners are so much more important. My next goal is huge. Without partners, I won’t find success.


I am new to the eden philosphy (so called baby) and whoelse but me and my family (elders in our home) would need buddy to support us being an edener.
Thanks: shereen from Cashmere NZ. If anybody is wanting to have my


I am a massage therapist working with Elders. Would love to talk with you about your work and how you bring the principles of the Eden Alternative into your rehabilitative therapy services.


The reply from Suzanne Kates was intended for Rachel Wynn. Just beginning to get the hang of this form of communication! Guess I need a Buddy!
Thanks Denise for starting this ball rolling for me – it’s been kind of lonely in my profession to infuse what I believe is so vital in the care of Elders.



I wrote a blog post about Eden Alternative and therapy. You can check it out here.


Hi Denise, a great reminder that “together each achieves more” and that in being prepared to share our challenges and triumphs we all grow, stronger and more committed to the Eden Alternative culture change journey.

We have homes in Oz and NZ who want to buddy with other homes. This, I believe, is one of the strengths that we offer across the globe. We need to be prepared to be vulnerable and open to the new…extending a hand to assist each other.


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