Finding Dignity In An Institutional World

April 08, 2015
Virgil Thomas,

This short documentary by Dick Weinman, The Thin Edge of Dignity, offers us another look at the institutional model of care from the perspective of an observant Elder. This video delves into the struggle to maintain identity and dignity in a world that has given up on those ideals. This video is yet another reminder that we must always seek to hear the voices of Elders in the work we do.


7 Comments. Leave new

Jen Quinones
April 8, 2015 11:18 am

Amazingly powerful! Thank you
-Jen Quinones


Thank you for sharing this. Words can’t express how much this has much this has inspired me to keep working to make change happen in a society which does not value elders as it should.


We use room numbers to speak about residents if we need to mention them in public-we felt it kinder than saying that “Mary” needs the loo when others may be listening. But only ever when speaking in public and it is done quietly. Maybe Mary would not mind others knowing she needs the loo.???…we try so hard to bear their dignity in mind, everyone knows who Mary is as first names are used if that is what they choose. Seems it is only possible to get it wrong these days. I will make a point of asking the carers and residents for their opinion. I will also show the staff this video…especially his comments about wipes…I shuddered for him. Maybe a resident or two could give an opinion as well. By the sounds of this video, we are doing well, but maybe the identification means needs looking at.


Dick’s story reminds us of why we do what we do every day at The Eden Alternative. It’s about time that we all demand person-directed care be the norm, not the exception.


I found Richard’s talk moving, poignant and heart breaking.
My mother has vascular dementia and was recently moved into an Aged Care Facility as I was physically less able to care for her at home any longer. It breaks my heart when I see her and others sitting in a room, sometimes on their own, waiting for a care giver to come and take them to the toilet or to an activity group. They often have to wait quite a while and sometimes assistance comes too late for the toilet, a change of underwear is required. Where is the dignity in this? Not long ago, she was placed in an armchair where she dozed off, as is the case these days. As there was insufficient support in the arms or design of the chair, mum slid or ‘fell out’ onto the floor and sustained a fractured wrist. No one saw anything, just heard the thud as she landed on the floor. Care staff are in short supply and often do not fully or properly understand the needs of the person/elder with dementia. Why do I feel so helpless and distraught that my mother should be subject to this existence at the end of her full and busy and productive life. Does anyone else feel the same way??????

Emily hodges
April 18, 2015 1:08 am

207 to 108. 207 to 108. Sniffie to Alfie. Sniffie to Alfie. Come in plueeze. Come in puleeze. .. ten four….

Beautifully done, not a bump in it. Smooth, deeply honest, matter of fact and both low key and relentless in its ability to draw in the viewer. I am back the fifth time today. I keep running through it in my mind, looking for lacunae…don’t see or feel any…

This joins Emily’s List of “absolutely must see if you are going to understand” videos along side the documentary “Alive Inside,” and youTube videos on the Eden Alternative, the Green House alternative and presentations by Dr. Thomas.

Thank you very much.

Jennifer Berg
May 7, 2015 9:54 pm

Poignant…Would love to have heard more of his recommendations for change in an ALF that would help to restore dignity and to honor the wisdom that he could most certainly offer.. I guess the best recommendation would have been for him to remain in his Village. What a wonderful man! So grateful for the documentary.


Leave a Reply