On Sept 15th, C.A.R.P. Ottawa provided a webinar on The Eden Alternative with speaker Suellen Beatty, CEO Sherbrooke Community Centre and Co-Regional Coordinator for Eden Alternative in Western Canada. Nearly 100 persons registered for this event and those that did attend were very pleased with the speaker and content.
The Eden Alternative is a philosophy of care that focuses on relationships. The philosophy has seven domains of well-being which residents and staff focus on to create a home. Their goal is to create a human habitat where people thrive and grow. They care for the human spirit as well as the human body. The staff know that people need to have a reason to get out of bed each morning, so they spend time focusing on what brings pleasure to each person and then they try to provide that program or activity at Sherbrooke.
Within Sherbooke Village, they welcome intergenerational communities: a Day Care Centre of 36 children on site who bring joy and pleasure to the residents: an Igen (Intergenerational) Program where a class of Grade 6 students use space at Sherbrooke for their classroom studies. In between, they build relationships with the residents.
To see a video recording of the webinar, click here.
What is needed to change an institutional model LTC home into Eden Alternative home? It requires a change in attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours. It requires a culture change which allows the resident to direct the type of life they wish to live and staff who are fully engaged and valued. It requires leaders who become coaches and empower others.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to spend our later years in a home where there is identity, growth, autonomy ,security, connectedness, meaning , and joy. It would be “A Life Worth Living”.
Please do your part to bring transformative culture change to long-term care homes in Ontario. Write to your MPP or to your City Councillor, or write a letter to the editor, or any other action that you think will help to promote a quality, dignified life for our seniors living in long-term care homes.
St. John’s Green House home in Penfield N.Y: residents eat together at a communal table. The Green House project focuses on residents’ emotional and social well-being.
“…….The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted that we need new ways of providing LTC to protect residents from plagues of communicable disease. But we also need to eradicate the noncommunicable plagues of old age identified by the architects of the Eden Alternative — loneliness, helplessness, and boredom.
We need new models of care that prioritize human relationships, dignity, and safety. That means a moratorium on new LTC facilities that don’t look like Sherbrooke Community Centre’s Poppy Lane…..” (a long-term care home featured on this blog site on November 16, 2017) says Dr. Michael Rachlis, a public health physician and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Toronto Dalla Lana School of Public Health that appeared in The Star on May 8th, 2020. Read more here
Is growing older a good thing? Or is the idea of aging something to be feared leading to isolation, loneliness and a lack of autonomy?
In 1991, Dr. Bill Thomas became the medical director of a nursing home in upstate New York. He found the place, as the Washington Post put it, “depressing, and a repository for old people whose minds and bodies seemed dull and dispirited.” Read article here.
So, what did Thomas do? He decided to transform the nursing home. Based on a hunch, he persuaded his staff to stock the facility with two dogs, four cats, several hens and rabbits, and 100 parakeets, along with hundreds of plants, a vegetable and flower garden, and a day-care site for staffers’ kids.
All those animals in a nursing home broke state law, but for Thomas and his staff, it was a revelation. Caring for the plants and animals restored residents’ spirits and autonomy; many started dressing themselves, leaving their rooms and eating again. The number of prescriptions fell to half of that of a control nursing home, particularly for drugs that treat agitation. Medication costs plummeted, and so did the death rate. “He named the approach the Eden Alternative.”
What do you think? Do our beliefs about aging affect our expectations about quality of life? Are our expectations about aging one of the reasons it is so difficult to implement innovative models within long term care homes? Please share your comments.
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What is unusual about this picture?
Sherbrooke Community Centre Nursing Home in Saskatoon is the home to 263 high-needs residents. It’s also the site of an intergenerational school. Every year, after winning a city-wide lottery, a batch of sixth graders ditch the traditional classroom and spend a year attending school at Sherbrooke. Listen to this story from CBC’s Sunday Morning radio show here.
At Sherbrooke, there are no classrooms, no desks, and no blackboards. Students get together with their teachers in the chapel in the morning and again at noon, but the rest of the time they are free to go where they want, and sit with anyone they feel like talking to. The school is a life-changing experience for the elders as much as it is for the kids.
“If we didn’t see the kids, we would just be a bunch of old people in this building, and that is stark and it’s ugly. Without the kids, I just feel that a part of me dies,” one resident says.
In western Canada, Sherbrooke Community Centre Nursing Home is the first care home to register as an Eden Alternative ® home.
Another innovative model for us to consider….
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“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete” R. Buckminster Fuller.
Sherbrooke Village program turns long term care home into a grade 6 classroom. They use an Eden Alternative model of care which focuses on moving away from the institutional hierarchical (medical) model of care into a constructive culture of “home”. https://www.edenalt.org/about-the-eden-alternative/mission-vision-values/
Click here for a W5/CTV interview with the Executive Director of the Sherbrooke Village to see this approach for yourselves: https://www.ctvnews.ca/w5/saskatoon-care-home-offers-unique-approach-for-residents-with-dementia-1.1686936
As we mentioned in our introductory blog, our long term care system in Ontario is broken. Our goal is not to endorse any particular model of care but rather to present information on innovative long term care models that already exist in our own country or elsewhere in the world and to provide some tools to create the political will for transformation of our system.
And we’d like to know what you think. If you like the Sherbrooke Village Model or the Hogeway Village model from our first blog post, please send us a comment to let us know what you like about them.
And YOU can help to transform the system by sending a letter to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care and copying your local MPP/MP. For a draft letter that you can personalize, click here: 17draftMPPletter
Don’t know who your MPP/MP is? Click here…
Please note: The authors of this blog are not endorsing any particular model of care. We are offering this blog as information and as an impetus for change and action. If you agree with what is written and want to take action, then you are encouraged to write to your local newspapers, write letters to your politicians, and speak out at public forums which address elder care. (MPP website). Together we can make a difference!