Eden Alternative

The Eden Alternative is seeking to remake the experience of aging around the world. The bulk of work to date has been in de-institutionalizing the culture and environment of today’s nursing homes and other long-term care institutions.

The Eden Alternative is an international not-for-profit organization based on the core belief that aging is a continued stage of growth and development, rather than a period of decline. The Eden Alternative’s principle-based philosophy is a powerful tool guiding organizations through the journey of culture change.

• The mission of the Eden Alternative is to improve the well being of Elders and those who care for them by transforming the communities in which they live and work. The vision is to eliminate loneliness, helplessness and boredom.
• Founded in 1994 by Dr. William Thomas, a Harvard-educated physician and board certified geriatrician, the Eden Alternative is governed by a national all-volunteer board and led by CEO, Chris Perna and Executive Director, Carol Ende.
• The Eden Alternative has trained over 23,000 Eden Associates and has over 200 registered homes in the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia. With presence in Eastern and Western Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Denmark, Switzerland and England, International Eden Alternative Regional Coordinators are bringing the Eden Alternative Philosophy and Principles across the world.
• The Eden Alternative provides transformative education and expert support to people from around the world that are using the Eden Alternative Philosophy through workshops, consultations, networking and books written by Dr. Thomas and the Eden Registry.
• The Eden Registry is an international support network dedicated to advancing culture change in their states and countries. Each organization’s journey is unique and the Eden Alternative does not have a programmed approach for all homes to follow; the homes on the Eden Registry are made publicly available as role models for other organizations seeking transformative culture change.
• Studies show that implementation of the Eden Alternative is a powerful tool for improving quality of life and quality of care for those living in nursing homes. In homes that have adopted Eden Alternative as an organizational-wide philosophy, there is often improved staff satisfaction and retention and significant decreases in the overuse of medications and restraints.
• The mission of the Eden Alternative extends past the walls of the nursing home offering support for the entire continuum of care. As an initiative of the Eden Alternative, Eden at Home captures the essence and successes of the Eden Alternative’s Ten Principles as they apply to improving quality of life for Elders living at home and their care partners. With an eye for changing the culture of care in our communities, Eden at Home emphasizes building creative and collaborative care partner teams empowered by concepts central to person-directed care.
• In 2009, the non-profit Seaton Foundation partnered with the Eden Alternative to establish Eden Life Long Living to promote well-being and a better quality of life for individuals with cognitive disabilities and the staff who support them. Eden Life Long Living is based on the belief

The core concept of The Eden Alternative is strikingly simple. Dr. William Thomas, his wife Judy, the Eden home office staff, 50 Eden Educators, 60 mentors and more than 15,000 associates teach that where elders live must be habitats for human beings, not sterile medical institutions. They are dedicated to eliminating the plagues of loneliness, helplessness, and boredom that make life intolerable in most of today’s long-term care facilities.

The Eden Alternative shows how companionship, the opportunity to give meaningful care to other living things, and the variety and spontaneity that mark an enlivened environment, can succeed where pills and therapies often fail. Places that have adopted the Eden Alternative typically are filled with plants, animals, and are regularly visited by children

The Eden Alternative is also about changing the culture of long-term care organizations. The departmentalized, task-orientation of the current institutional model has created a culture that is characterized by pessimism, cynicism and stinginess. By moving away from the top-down bureaucratic approach to management and moving decision making closer to the Elders, Edenizing organizations are helping to support a meaningful life for their Elders.

Studies show that implementation of The Eden Alternative is a powerful tool for improving quality of life and quality of care for those living in nursing homes. Also, in homes that have adopted Eden as an organizational-wide philosophy, there is often improved staff satisfaction and retention and significant decreases in the overuse of medications and restraints. Most importantly, Elders, supported by their caregivers, can once again direct their own daily lives.

The Eden Alternative Supports Meeting and Exceeding Existing Regulatory Requirements for all Care Settings.

The Eden Alternative is now poised to bring the principles and practices that are transforming long-term care to the larger community of Elders and their care partners living outside of institutions. For even a home can feel like an institution when an Elder requires assistance with daily living and the entire focus is placed upon the needs of the human body, and not the human spirit. With this in mind, the Eden Alternative now has a new initiative called Eden At Home, designed to touch the lives of Elders living at home and their care partners. Eden at Home aspires to transform the culture of care in our larger communities.

1. The three plagues of loneliness, helplessness, and boredom account for the bulk of suffering among our Elders.
2. An Elder-centered community commits to creating a human habitat where life revolves around close and continuing contact with plants, animals, and children. It is these relationships that provide the young and old alike with a pathway to a life worth living.
3. Loving companionship is the antidote to loneliness. Elders deserve easy access to human and animal companionship.
4. An Elder-centered community creates opportunity to give as well as receive care. This is the antidote to helplessness.
5. An Elder-centered community imbues daily life with variety and spontaneity by creating an environment in which unexpected and unpredictable interactions and happenings can take place. This is the antidote to boredom.
6. Meaningless activity corrodes the human spirit. The opportunity to do things that we find meaningful is essential to human health.
7. Medical treatment should be the servant of genuine human caring, never its master.
8. An Elder-centered community honors its Elders by de-emphasizing top-down bureaucratic authority, seeking instead to place the maximum possible decision-making authority into the hands of the Elders or into the hands of those closest to them.
9. Creating an Elder-centered community is a never-ending process. Human growth must never be separated from human life.
10. Wise leadership is the lifeblood of any struggle against the three plagues. For it, there can be no substitute.