Culture Change… Why NOW?

May 28, 2015
Laura Beck, The Eden Alternative

Untitled design (2)

Throughout the coming year, between now and our 2016 conference, we will be reaching out to many of you, asking the question, “Why is it about time to change the culture of care? Why now, more than ever?” I checked in with the President of our Board of Directors, Rick Gamache, about this question, and he offered this moving reflection in response…

“The Eden Alternative has chosen ‘It’s About Time!’ as the theme for the 2016 International Conference, and what could be more appropriate?

‘It’s About Time!’ can be interpreted in different ways: first, picture someone standing with their arms folded across their chest. It may be an authority figure, admonishing someone who is late….’It’s About Time!’ It could be the world admonishing us for taking so long to change the culture of eldercare. It has taken much longer than it should. Why? Well-meaning, loving people have tried to create better environments for elders focused on well-being, but it is a constant struggle. Our priorities shift due to reimbursement cuts, regulatory inspections, changes in leadership, and more. And like physical exercise, once you stop for a period of time, it’s hard to get back in the groove again. In fact, exercise is a good analogy, because it is hard to do, sometimes you have to force yourself, even if you don’t feel like it, but the benefits are worthy of, and proportionate to, the effort.

‘It’s About Time!’ could also mean that time truly matters. A few months after my sister died from injuries sustained in a car accident, I wrote something called ‘Time Together’ and read it to my family at the Thanksgiving table. It reminded everyone that coming together was not about whether the mashed potatoes or gravy had lumps, or whether the side dishes were served at the right temperature. It was about our time…together. It was a reminder not to take time, or each other, for granted, that we are all moving through life and we need to connect with others along the way.

In eldercare, it certainly is about time. Time spent with elders, learning from them, sharing with them, is a gift. Our society is missing the opportunity of a lifetime; to tap into the lessons being offered to us by elders.

The 2016 conference is our chance to share what we experience every day. We need to demonstrate, with urgency, that changing our culture is imperative, and that ‘It’s About Time’ we move forward. We also need to share the gift of precious time that we have with each other. When it comes to building and nurturing meaningful relationships, ‘It’s About Time!’”

Have some thoughts about why it’s about time for change? My awesome colleague, Denise Hyde, offers the following questions for you to ponder while you think about this question:

  1. Has your organization implemented a change on this journey, and you said to yourself, “it’s about time” we did this? What is the story?
  2. Have you found yourself interacting with the healthcare (Eldercare) system (short or long-term) and thought, “it’s about time that _______ changed?” What is the story?
  3. Have you experienced an innovative Eldercare practice/approach and thought, “it’s about time everyone did this?” What is the story?

If you are inspired, please send me your stories and reflections on why it’s about time to over the coming months. We may feature you in a blog or in our newsletter. This is our journey – together – we need to hear from you!

AND… another way to share your story and demonstrate that ‘It’s About Time!” is to submit a proposal for our 2016 Eden Alternative International Conference before July 7, 2015. You are the voice of The Eden Alternative! Don’t delay!

3 Comments. Leave new

I love it! We talk all the time about how people and organizations can make The Eden Alternative their own and put their own stamp on it. Well, here’s a case where our theme “It’s About Time!” can mean so many different things to so many different people. Make it your own and tell us how “It’s About Time!” moves you. Thanks for sharing!

Jennifer Berg
May 28, 2015 1:12 pm

Love, Love Love this! You know that it is about time when one does not hear back from a facility after offering to volunteer at anytime for any reason! This is what happened in my little town, where there is one Facility, from Independent Living to Nursing Care. And in a neighboring City,a Facility is choosing to bow out as a Registered Eden Provider, supposedly due to the fact that no one wanted to care for the animals and due to the fee associated with being a Registered Member. What does that tell us? There is still work to be done in getting back to the Valuing the Virtue of our Elders. So very grateful for the Eden Alternative!


Hi Jennifer…. yes, yes, yes! Love your observations and your passion. May they be an inspiration to others!


Leave a Reply