Ireland is a country where the word of your mother is gospel. On every topic from whether you need to wear a coat out, to where exactly the draft is coming from, she always has the answer. Of course, our fathers are incredibly important and influential too, but there is something special about an Irish ‘mammy’. In fact, the only person in the family with more authority than the mother is the grandmother, and that’s because she’s got even more years of wisdom and knowledge within her.
Maybe this is why, when it comes to the idea of these all-knowing, omnipotent, heads of the family facing a move into an institution where they will be cared for by others, we Irish sons and daughters draw a mental block. We refuse to think about it, and if we have to talk about it at all we say, “Ah she’s gone into the home now” and wait for a mumbled expression of sympathy in response, before quickly changing the subject.
Ireland has one of the highest European rates of over-65s living in long-term care, and a rapidly aging population set to sharply increase the demand in these services. But with recent abuse and neglect scandals and a still-bleak economic outlook putting care providers under increasing financial and regulatory strain, few are optimistic about the future of the sector without radical change.
But how do we make that change? What if nursing homes could be places where our elders were not only celebrated, but able to continue to grow?
That is what The Eden Alternative offers, and it’s what we’re working to make a reality in Ireland.
Through the fantastic work of Eden Alternative UK & Ireland, Eden was implemented in its first Irish nursing home in 2011. With the commitment and determination of the staff and management of Sacred Heart Hospital, right in the midlands of Roscommon, they have transformed their facility into a wonderful human habitat, where bringing meaning and value to the lives of residents is at the heart of everything they do.
Now the work on spreading this throughout the country begins.
I want this to be available to every older person in Ireland who is facing the move into residential care. I want people to view nursing homes not as dark, depressing, stagnant facilities where everyone does the same thing at the same time, but as vibrant, warm places where people are able to live.
To do that, we need to build on the huge success of our first Irish Eden home, and create a network of homes to act as a launchpad for taking this full-scale across the country. To help make that happen, I’ve created a campaign to raise funding to train 75 staff from 25 nursing homes to act as the seeds of Eden in the places they work. We’ll then be able to truly grow within these facilities, and across the country.
If you’re interested, please take a look at our campaign page at http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/eden-alternative-changing-ageing-in-ireland/x/3544527. If you like it – make a contribution if you can, and spread the word! And help Ireland become a place that treats our elders with the love, value and respect that they deserve.