At the recent Pioneer/CMS Summit on Design and Long-Term Care, Eden Alternative Executive Director concluded her remarks with these stirring words…
The Eden Alternative is happy to have a voice in this discussion of the physical environment as it relates to home. But we also know through our work with hundreds and hundreds of organizations around the globe, who are struggling to create real home, that true home is not found in the physical environment. It is not about walls and carpet and chandeliers, any more than it is about fur and feathers. The physical environment is merely the container in which the human spirit can either grow or wither. The current physical environments are sorely pressed to support growth. They are like frozen tundra, devoid of warmth and growth. So we certainly need to address the issue. But the most important part of a true human habitat is the soil. Every gardener knows that a rich and nourishing soil is vital to the garden. The soil is the social environment that exists in out long-term care facilities.
We know through our work that there are providers who are currently creating authentic home despite the shortcomings of the physical environments they have inherited. These highly creative people are transforming what they have been given, and in the smallest of ways creating home in their physical environments, while concentrating mostly on creating a warm, caring ethos, where every person has the opportunity to give and receive care. It is in these types of environments that Elders will truly find home and a sense of belonging. We also know through our work with Eden At Home™ that even an Elder’s own personal home can become like an institution when she needs care and all the focus is on the care of the human body while her human spirit is neglected, and her rights to autonomy and choice are removed.
Some of you may be thinking, “We can’t go that far. These ideas are just too bold. We need to take our time and go slowly. The Eden Alternative would remind you that over a million and a half people live in institutional nursing homes in this country. These people are at this very moment in harm’s way. There is widespread immediate jeopardy and actual harm being caused by this pursuit of the inauthentic. There are people suffering and dying from the plagues of the human spirit. That kind of pain is far greater and much deeper than any pain of the body. We do not have the luxury of taking this slowly. We must act swiftly and we must act boldly.
This is the hour. And we are the ones our Elders have been waiting for. The Eden family is honored to be on this journey with you.