Improving the lives of older people
and their carers by transforming the
communities in which they live and work"

Alexander Forbes took note…

The Eden Alternative was mentioned in Alexander Forbes’s annual Benefits Barometer publication as ‘a transformative model of care that advocates person-directed solutions of care as opposed to the conventional practice where the institution dictates the daily routines for an individual’ Part 2, Chapter 5, p122. 

This phenomenal (341 page) document is worth a read. Its origin and focus is to provide an annual assessment of the South African employee benefits system and the industry that supports it, to determine how effectively it addresses the physical, psychological and financial needs of employees. A mouth full but in the 5 years of its existence the team realised to gain the insights needed they had to examine the full financial journey of an individual along the way to retirement – thus a lifetime journey.   

Another lesson the Benefits Barometer team learned was ‘systems fail when they fail to address the interests of the individual they are meant to serve’. We all know too well that the systems’ alive and well in most long term care communities are serving the institutional and medical models and not the needs of the people who call it ‘home’.

The 2017 edition focus on benefits that matter in the changing world of work and yes, fortunately one of the things mentioned is the value of the ‘ageing experienced workforce’ and the relevance of retiring at 65.    

Part 2 is titled ‘Longevity – The demographic disruptor’.  In chapter 5 reimagining long term care comes under the magnifying glass.

It is here where the Beatles song – ‘money can’t buy me love’ came to mind. I reckon you can plan for your retirement and have lots of money in the bank, which can buy you very fancy care facilities with great food and even one-on-one care, but at a stage in your life when you are dependent on others, it cannot buy or ensure you will be treated with dignity and respect.  

Part 2 ends with ‘An Agenda for action’ containing how they see the way forward. I share with you a few that I really like.

Governments should:

  • Create a holistic policy for the elderly rather than differentiate between welfare, health and social care
  • Address workforce shortages with education and training*, and support informal carers  financially or non-financially
  • Consider changing regulations to make homes and communities more age-friendly and dementia-friendly*

Health professionals and carers should:

  • Incentivise integration, care planning and specialist medical input to make it more person-centred*
  • Rethink the use of medication, with less emphasis on cure and more on managing declining health in a way that maximises quality of life*
  • Consider models of care that promote intergenerational interactions and personal care plans*

Health insurance and financial services providers should:

  • Create products and services where there are real needs (bring Alzheimer’s and frail care insurance in under the cover of their umbrellas)

Employers should:

  • Do away with mandatory retirement ages
  • Change attitudes and policies towards ageing
  • Create more opportunities for intergenerational teams and mentorships
  • Help older adults plan for the next phase of their lives and invest in lifelong learning

Retirees should:

  • Get as informed as possible
  • Plan, plan, plan
  • Walk, walk, walk

*(Eden Alternative promotes this aspect as well)

The quality of long term care within and outside of residential communities needs a drastic change in focus. We need to not just refocus but retrain and reframe the way we think and what we do every day. The well-being of all who enter and live in our communities are of equal importance and value.

The potential of genuine human relationships (and not money) is the one thing I believe will ensure a life worth living, now and the future.

Thank you Rand Aid for sharing The Eden Alternative with Anne Cabot-Alletzhauser from Alexander Forbes.

Visit www.alexanderforbes.co.za to view and download the Benefits Barometer.

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