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.
Implementation of The Eden Alternative 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 Path to Eden Alternative Mastery
Washington Rehabilitation and Nursing Center has completed Eden Alternative Milestone 2, and is working towards Milestone 3.
Composed of four milestones, The Path to Mastery provides a common language and goals that guide organizations from the full continuum of care along their culture change journey.
Eden Alternative Milestone 1
The first milestone is a call to action for leadership teams. Developing a plan for the transformation ahead involves revisiting their organizational mission and vision, determining a strategy for measuring success, and defining how the process of change will unfold. Completion of Milestone 1 marks an organization’s eligibility to apply for Eden Registry membership.
Eden Alternative Milestone 2
The second milestone reflects leadership’s commitment to spreading culture change throughout the organization and preparing everyone to take an active role in change initiatives. As leadership’s vision moves from dream to reality, employees begin to recognize their role in developing a caring community by identifying strengths and building on what they each bring to the journey.
Eden Alternative Milestone 3
The third milestone drives empowerment and growth of the entire care partner team while moving decisions into the hands of the care recipients and those working most closely with them. Decisions, once under the authority of management, are now in the hands of empowered care partner teams. The voice and choice of individuals receiving care direct the rhythm of daily life, no matter where they live, and systems and processes are redesigned to support their preferences.
Eden Alternative Milestone 4
The fourth milestone reflects the most innovative practices currently implemented by culture change leaders today. Relationships are close and roles are blended, creating a resilient, flexible, and highly responsive team with a strong sense of ownership. Leaders grow other leaders, who, in turn, have developed the capacity to influence the success of other organizations on the culture change journey.
Holistic Caregiver Model
“The Holistic Caregiver model promotes an individualized lifestyle, quality of life initiatives, and care centered on the Elders needs and desires,” states Quality of Life Director, Brian Owens.
Washington Rehabilitation and Nursing Home in Chipley, Florida is moving forward in Elder directed care with a “Get Real” mentality. The home, which was added to the Eden Alternative Registry in 2012, has been working steadfastly to bring about positive changes for the Elders who live there. The Holistic Caregiver model was chosen because of its closeness to the Elders. Using this model, housekeeping staff, quality of life staff, and nursing staff are all “cross trained” so they can easily do all things the Elder may require.
Yes, it’s a big change from the traditional institutionalized model of care. The move towards a Holistic Caregiver model will align us perfectly with the Eden Alternative Principle Eight. This principle teaches us that in order to truly move forward with person-directed care, we must begin to empower not only the Elder but those that work most closely to the Elder.
To learn more about the Eden Alternative, visit EdenAlt.org.