What if senior living focused on people as individuals — and even altered operations to meet unique needs and preferences? What if communities eschewed a traditional, institutional framework to create a vibrant, empowering environment where older adults can thrive?
Through a unique approach to senior care known as The Eden Alternative, such communities do exist. Mercy Retirement & Care Center is an Eden Alternative community and follows the guiding principles that have made this method so successful.
What Is The Eden Alternative?
The Eden Alternative was created in the early 1990s by Dr. Bill Thomas after he received a state grant in New York to implement his vision for profoundly changing nursing homes. Today, The Eden Alternative program helps create nurturing environments that prioritize quality of life for older adults and their care partners.
The program involves changes to everything from physical environments to organizational structures to the ways in which older adults, care partners and others interact. Communities like Mercy Retirement & Care Center that adopt The Eden Alternative analyze and adjust every facet of their daily operations to focus on the individuals who work and live there.
The concepts behind the program are backed by a significant body of research and data. In its early stages, The Eden Alternative was found to decrease a variety of negative outcomes for older adults. For example, one data survey found that behavioral incidents decreased by 60 percent in an Eden Alternative community, and staff absenteeism dropped by nearly half.
The program’s research findings reveal that the unique combination of strengthening personal relationships, reducing medications and using alternative therapies (when appropriate), and creating environments based on respect and choice all can significantly improve quality of life for older adults.
The Eden Alternative 10 Principles
The Eden Alternative mission is to improve the wellbeing of older adults and their care partners by positively changing their living and working environments. As a result, the program aims to reduce or eliminate feelings of boredom, helplessness and loneliness.
The program incorporates 10 principles to support the core values of empowerment, passion, community and integrity. The principles focus on providing loving companionship, creating living environments that promote close contact, filling daily life with “variety and spontaneity” and honoring older adults by giving them as much choice as possible.
In accordance with the tenets of The Eden Alternative, team members at Mercy Retirement & Care Center work diligently every day to create a loving and supportive environment where older adults can thrive.