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Snippets from Eden Associate Assignments 2017

Attendees of the 3 day Eden Associate training are requested to complete an assignment aimed at encouraging them to make a start at implementing The Eden Alternative Philosophy. Here are a few extracts from assignments received during the second half of this year.

Thembisa and Tracey Lee – Eden Associates from PADCA Riverside Park in Pietermaritzburg shared how they now as a team approach supporting an Elder expressing a need.

“For example a resident was very upset. All she wanted was to get her car back and go for a drive.  We the care partners sat together with the resident (Mrs W) and her daughter and after a discussion, we found out that all the resident really wants is to go out in a car on a regular basis to see the city. She feels that she has cabin fever. So we all came to the conclusion with the resident that she can go out with the driver Richard at any time he had to run an errand. Richard agreed to tell the resident when he is  going and the resident then decides if she would like to go with. This was started about 2 weeks ago and the resident is really enjoying her outings. This arrangement has made a great change in the resident’s attitude and she is more relaxed and she looks forward to her outings. 

Actually quiet a few lives have improved with this little change in Mrs W’s life, she doesn’t get grumpy with residents and staff. Mrs W and her daughter-in-law get on better and Richard the driver is also enjoying the outings as Mrs W grew up in Pietermaritzburg and she recalls the old PMB. All in all it has been a “win win” situation.”

Domains of Well-being encouraged: Identity, Connectedness, Security, Meaning, Joy, Autonomy and Growth (for Richard)  Well Done! 

At Issy Geshen in Lamontville, Durban, the team of Eden Associates (Sifiso, Nelly, Felicity and Bonakele) identified the following solution to get to know a new resident better.

We are developing a picture tool kit comprising of various pictures: animals, houses, people, crafts, fruit and vegetables, church, etc. These pictures will be used by the new resident to create a collage of his/her interests/life. The care partner will photograph it and the printed collage will be put in his/her file. This will be few days after moving in – once the resident has settled in.”

Domains of Well-being encouraged: Identity, Connectedness, Security, Meaning and Autonomy  Well Done!

What started as a feedback session Asiya presented as part of her Associate assignment at TAFTA’s John Conradie House in Durban, has grown into a monthly get together of residents who initially did not know each other even though they all lived in the same care centre.

Asiya remarked: “Their task for this session was to go over in their minds Principle 1 and how they as individuals deal with and try to combat the three plagues of Loneliness, Helplessness and Boredom. At the end of this first session, I thanked each elder for attending and committing to the Eden way. I hugged each one in turn and was most pleasantly surprised when each one of them embraced the others around the room. For me this was huge because you could feel the sincerity in their action.”

At the end of her assignment, Asiya wrote:

“I feel honoured to have been chosen as part of the Eden Alternative Associate training.  I took from it a wealth of knowledge it was an eye-opener and I’ve learnt that it doesn’t take much to make a difference.  I am committed to incorporating the Eden Alternative into my daily life at the Care Centre and at my home.  It is going to be a long road but I’m confident that in the not too distant future our Care Centre John Conradie Home/ Langeler Towers will be an elder-centered facility that will offer joy, security, a sense of connectedness and meaning to the lives of the elders and most importantly that it has to be all about the elder.“

Domains of Well-being encouraged: Identity, Connectedness, Security, Meaning, Joy  Well Done! 

Rahida also from TAFTA shared this with us after she attended the second in-house Associate training at this organisation earlier this year.

“She (a resident) then went on to say that she misses her own cooking and would just love for a pot of her curry. The question came if we could not approach management to designate a space that could be communal for cooking and could work with prior booking and volunteers to control the access of the space which will be brought up during our Residents meeting as a suggestion.”

Rahida later confirmed: “We have formed a cooking group consisting of elders who want to cook but cannot because of room restrictions. For example: Elders living on the same floor of the building can come together and say that they would like to have a pot of curry that week. They get together, get the ingredients and elders in the group can cook for the rest, alternating so that everyone has a chance to cook.”

Domains of Well-being encouraged: Identity, Connectedness, Security, Meaning, Joy and Autonomy  Well Done! 

Danielle attended the 3 day training in August and works at SAVF Old Age Home in Middelburg.

“Another way to welcome a resident would be to find out what hobbies the new resident enjoys and take him or her along to the next event or to start a new event with her hobby and get other residents involved. An example would be a new resident that has recently joined the home. She is living with dementia. Her family shared with us that she used to knit and do other needle work.  The 2nd day after her arrival, she was invited to join the craft morning held weekly.  She came hesitantly.  She sat for an hour and a half of the 2 hours just observing and started colour coding the many wools in the boxes. The following week she sat again for an hour and then started knitting quietly.”

Domains of Well-being encouraged: Identity, Connectedness, Security and Meaning Well Done! 

Ann and Heather from Flower Foundation Witpoortjie Senior Park attended the Associate training together and during their feedback session opened the discussion up to their team. Here are some of what is now on their commitments and list of plans.

  • We decided to focus more on looking AT our resident not just after them.  The same will apply to colleagues.
  • We would look at ways to spend quality time with our residents. You don’t need to spend more time with them, you just have to use the time you have and make it quality time. 
  • We will recognize any achievements of fellow staff members and announce it on the notice boards.
  • Any thank you cards or notes will be posted in the newsletter in recognition of staff.

Staff and management made a unanimous decision to identify areas where improvements can be made to:

  • Make life more interesting and meaningful for our residents.
  • Make work environment more pleasant for the staff.
  • Involve management in every aspect of caring.

Heather also noted the following

“The staff and residents have been delighted with the changes we have implemented. Some of the residents who were constantly suffering from headaches and back pain are now no longer asking for painkillers as they are enjoying the activities so much. Our Learning Circle is growing in that we are learning more about each other by calling small and larger get-togethers on a weekly basis, and learning to LISTEN to each other without fear of recrimination. Traditions and ideas are respected. Thank you for teaching us to value one another and to make our work more of a pleasure for all.”

There are many more stories of how small changes are improving not just the lives of Elders, but also the lives of the people who support them.

THANK YOU Eden Associates you are truly ‘World makers’!

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Chris Perna
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Thank you for sharing these heartwarming stories. They really highlight that by just listening and observing we can find ways to address unmet needs and improve well-being. Life’s simple pleasures like cooking, going for a drive, knitting, etc. can make such a difference and improve quality of life without requiring a lot of money or resources.

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