The Eden Alternative

One of the services that we provide is a (free of charge) presentation about the Eden Alternative. The Eden Alternative is a small not-for-profit organization making a big difference in the world, with an approach based on the core belief that aging should be a continued stage of development and growth, rather than a period of decline.

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

This presentation includes a 30 minutes video, and will help you implement various parts of this outstanding program in your facility.

Please contact us to arrange this presentation.

Mike & Frank

An Overview of the Eden Alternative

(Note: The following material is borrowed from the Eden Alternative publications.)

The Eden Alternative was first initiated in 1991 in a nursing home in New York by Harvard Medical School graduate, Dr. Bill Thomas.  Dr.Thomas was interested in attacking three major problems that plague nursing homes and that medications fail to treat:  loneliness, helplessness and boredom.  “As a physician,” Dr. Thomas contends, “I can sometimes trick the body into recovery by administering drugs and treatments.  The spirit, however, cannot be deceived.  The Eden Alternative deals directly with the human spirit.”  The Eden Alternative promotes social and biological diversity and spontaneity in the nursing home and includes many unconventional changes:  residents are given daily exposure to dogs, cats and birds and are allowed to assist in the care and feeding of the animals;  close and continuing contact between children and the residents is provided through such programs as on-site child care, after school activities, day camps and even on-site classrooms; and live plants and flowers infuse the nursing home.

At the core of Eden is the empowerment of the staff and residents, giving them a strong voice in the direction of facility life.  Edenizing nursing homes de-emphasize top-down bureaucratic authority and seeks instead, to place the maximum possible decision making authority in the hands of those closest to the residents.  They do this with on-going education and the formation of “teams.”

The three steps to Edenizing involve vision, education, and implementation.  The vision piece comes relatively quickly, as people see that a real paradigm shift is not only possible, but very beneficial to all involved in long term care.  The educational component takes the longest—12 to 24 months before the implementation phase.  This is where empowerment plays such a crucial role.  And finally, the implementation—the “big bang”—is also an ongoing process.  In short, the Edenizing process is much more than what the trainers call “fur and feathers,” bringing some pets in or having children visit.

To learn more about Eden and their training programs, go to If your group or facility would like a presentation with a video on The Eden Alternative, please contact us.  There is no charge for this presentation.

The Ten Principles of the Eden Alternative

1. Understand that loneliness, helplessness, and boredom account for the bulk of suffering in a typical long term care facility.

2. Commits itself to surrendering the institutional point of view and adopts the Human Habitat model, which makes pets, plants, and children the axis around which daily life in the facility turns.

3. Provides easy access to companionship by promoting close and continuing contact between the elements of the Human Habitat and the residents.

4. Provides daily opportunities to give, as well as receive care by promoting resident participation in the daily round of activities that are necessary to maintain the Human Habitat.

5. Imbues daily life with variety and spontaneity by creating an environment in which unexpected and unpredictable interactions and happenings can take place.

6. De-emphasizes the programmed activities approach to life and devotes these resources to the maintenance and growth of the Human Habitat.

7. De-emphasizes the role of prescription drugs in residents’ daily life and commits these resources to the maintenance and growth of the Human Habitat.

8. De-emphasizes top-down bureaucratic authority in the facility and seeks instead to place the maximum possible decision-making authority in the hands of those closest to the residents.

9. Understands that Edenizing is a never-ending process, NOT a program, and that the Human Habitat, once created, should be helped to grow and develop like any other living thing.

10. Is blessed with leadership that places the need to improve resident quality of life over and above the inevitable objections to change. Leadership is the lifeblood of the Edenizing process and for it there is no substitute.



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