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No more uniforms

Cheryl George tells the story of how uniforms can no longer be seen at Sherbrooke Community Centre in Saskatoon, Canada.

‘Thanks for the opportunity to share our experience at Sherbrooke. We actually quit wearing uniforms over 10 years before we started our Eden journey. One of our guiding principles is Normalcy and we knew that uniforms were part of the institution, not normal life. We also found research that demonstrated that uniforms reinforce the ‘sick’ role and demonstrate that the staff had ‘power over’ the Elders. This is a policy decision so it was made by leadership.  We communicated with staff the reasons why the policy was changing and set a date one year later to implement it. We let staff know that they could begin wearing street clothes as soon as they wanted but in one years time we would implement a No Uniform policy.

Since adopting the Eden Alternative we feel even more strongly that uniforms have no place in our home. Dr. Thomas teaches us that the institution is the dragon and we believe uniforms are dragon food.

I did a presentation at one of our Eden conferences titled “When Principles 2 and 8 Collide”.  In Principle 2 we learn that we must abandon the institution and in Principle 8 we learn that decisions are to be made by or as close to the Elders as possible. In consulting with staff they are often reluctant to ‘give up’ their uniforms and our experience of consulting on this issue with Elders is they want whatever the staff want because they want the staff to be happy.  Because uniforms are part of the dress code it is a policy decision that belongs in the leadership ring. As leaders we must be careful to be sure in upholding one principle we do not violate any others.  Wearing uniforms violates Principle 2 because it supports institutional thinking. Wearing street clothes also supports Principle 5 because of the variety and spontaneity of staff dressing for the season and changing fashions.

Uniforms have not been worn at Sherbrooke since about 1988 and we believe this was an important step on our culture change journey.’

SherbrookeSherbrooke Community Centre is an Eden Registered Home and has progressed to Milestone 3 on the Path to Mastery. Read more about this elder-centred community at

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Vincenzo Paolino


I very much agree on this. We offer colorful Polo-Shirts for our staff which do not look uniform-style. Staff wears own trousers, scarves etc.

Interestingly staff members urge us to buy handy trousers too (with big pockets). Until now we have resisted to do so.

Beste regards from Switzerland and from Almacasa


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