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

WOODGROVE Retirement Village, PADCA, Pietermaritzburg, KWA-ZULU NATAL

‘Extract from Eden SA Newsletter May 2012’ – This story was shared during an Associate Reunion held at Amberglen in Howick, KZN on 27 March 2012. Thank you to Tracy and her team for sharing this with us.

Tracy from Woodgrove Retirement Village, told us that “the general feeling at Woodgrove is that we are staggering on some days – flying on others – and stumbling on many. The most important thing we have learnt through our journey is that this is very much like a new diet – how many of us have learnt from diet hopping that to lose weight successfully you have to change your LIFESTYLE. We have found the same with Eden – the lifestyle of both residents and staff at Woodgrove is changing and we are proud of who we are and what we have achieved with these changes. The Oaks is our Mid Care facility and this is where we thought we would be most challenged with our Eden journey. Life is so full of surprises and we are thrilled to say that this is where we have been the most successful. No longer do we have “miserable nit-picking residents”, but rather a lovely bunch of old folk who are committed to improving their lifestyle and wait for it – taking responsibility for it themselves!!

Some of the progress made in this unit includes:

  • We now have monthly Residents meetings
  • We now have Resident Committee members responsible for entertainment, housekeeping, dining experiences and weekly flower arrangements
  • A Residents’ Tuck Shop trolley has been introduced with residents taking most of the responsibility for this venture
  • Bird feeders have been installed with the residents responsible for purchasing and feeding and the upkeep of the feeders
  • The Residents’ Catering committee have requested and enjoyed a lovely braai instead of the routine week day lunch – many enjoyed toasted marshmallows and ice-cream cones for the first time in many years (this was a resident initiative and organised by them.)
  • DVD afternoons are held over weekends with popcorn being the highlight
  • The lounge always has a puzzle in progress – all the residents enjoy taking part in building the puzzle at their own leisure
  • Many residents enjoyed an outing to a concert at the City Hall – initiated and arranged by themselves – and other outings are in the pipe line. One being a visit to a local tea garden and the other a meander through the open gardens on display in PMB during September
  • Evening sundowners are now enjoyed by many residents on their patio instead of alone in their rooms and the Sisters are becoming less paranoid about the medical disasters this enjoyment could possibly result in!!  The residents have even requested and received a lemon tree – they require lemons for their cocktails!
  • The dining room is no longer a place the staff wish they could avoid – in three months we have changed our residents from focusing only on how awful they believe their meals are to thoroughly enjoying their meals – complaint free – rating each meal out of ten – never under 7/10 and mostly 9/10. This has been a real challenge and full marks go to all the staff and our outsourced caterers who came on board with us to enjoy our Eden journey.
  • Vegetable preparation and baking were suggested and our horrified residents needed to be reassured that it was not compulsory – I do believe that this suggestion is what motivated them to take charge of their own lives and come up with what they really wanted. You will not find an Oaks resident peeling the potatoes or cutting cookies from a lump of dough. They believe they have had their turn in life for these tasks and need to move on to more exciting ventures.
  • Most important of all to mention is that we have got the Woodgrove officials to approve the enlargement of this unit’s dining room to a more Eden friendly self-service facility.

In the  frail care centre, there has been some good progress on our Eden Journey as follows:

  • Installation of a fish pond and water feature
  • Vegetable gardening box that is suitable to be done from the seat of a walker – one resident’s contribution to this garden is that she sings to the plants on a daily basis.  I do believe the cabbages hear her and enjoy her voice, they are growing beautifully!!
  • Self-service tea and coffee 24hrs
  • We have trimmed the legs of a (particularly short resident’s) bed to eliminate the cot sides and accommodate her ‘get out of jail free’ bed request
  • Mini Nutritional Assessments have been done for all residents
  • Residents bake their own cookies for tea and enjoy their tea in china crockery – all plastic has been removed from The Lodge
  • No resident is bathed before 6am unless it is their special request – the early risers are slotted into the 6am bath schedule and the others are bathed during the day or in the evening
  • The highlight of the residents’ week is the progress our puppy Jake is making. He is brought for a visit each week for the residents to check out his progress and he theirs. They have enjoyed bonding with Jake and have shown keen interest in him since he was six weeks old – he is now a boisterous 6 month old.
  • We have had one resident move in from the Village who was paranoid about being found to be in need of Frail Care. She hibernated in her flat with all her windows and doors closed to protect herself from the inevitable. We are thrilled to say that she has moved in with us and the transmission has been amazing. This lady is so happy and at peace with her new environment and spends most of her days sunning herself in the gardens following years of self- inflicted solitary confinement in her flat.


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