Sunday, June 8, 2008

Eden Alternative for Nursing Homes (Video 6:52 mins.)

The following includes an excerpt from my book, "Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes.” The chapter titled “Baby Boomer Haven” takes readers on a tour through an imaginary nursing home based on best practices of some, but not nearly enough, nursing homes that exist today. Animals and children are important additions to culture change of many nursing homes that are moving away from the stereotypical, traditional model.

“Watch out for Diva Dog over there, one of several resident pets. She’s just looking you over to make sure you look her over. In her spare time, she’s a certified psychologist. Other indoor animals on the site are located in our aviaries of brightly colored birds and in our aquariums with fish that mesmerize us with their antics. We have more animals outdoors such as horses and rabbits. It’s fascinating watching how all of our animals relate. They’re a lot like people, you know, and have much more sense than we think they do.

Employees seem to love working here as much as we love living here. Most have years of seniority, and hardly anybody is ever absent. Low staff turnover saves considerable money in overtime and in hiring temporary help. Two things all employees like are our flexible scheduling and childcare on the premises. This allows them to personalize their time and accomplish more at home and at work with fewer worries. If you look to your left through the window of the childcare center, you can see two employees having lunch with their children. The older gentleman is a resident reading to a small group. I love spending time with the little ones. I jokingly call them my little “ankle biters” when they aren’t around. Some of them call me, “Grandma,” and a few like to say “Big Mama,” which really tickles me because that’s what I called my grandmother.”

© Frances Shani Parker

There are several models of culture change for nursing homes. This video examines an approach known as the Eden Alternative.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
"Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes”
Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog

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