Ron Smith Care Centre for older persons is the first organisation in Gauteng – and the second in South Africa – to become a member of Eden Alternative South Africa registry. This means that the Rand Aid Association care centre in Lyndhurst has joined over 350 international long-term care communities committed to improving the quality of life and care for the people they serve.
About Eden Alternative
Founded in the USA in 1991 by Dr William Thomas, a Harvard-educated physician and Board Certified Geriatrician, the Eden Alternative is a small not-for-profit organisation already making a big difference across the world in countries such as Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland and, now, South Africa. The philosophy is based on the core belief that aging should be a continued stage of development and growth, rather than a period of decline. The Eden Alternative is a powerful tool for improving quality of life for our elders and for recapturing a meaningful work life for care partners.
The core concept of the Eden Alternative is strikingly simple. It is about teaching us to see places where elders live as habitats for human beings rather than facilities for the frail and elderly. This approach supports the creation of communities which eliminate the plagues of loneliness, helplessness and boredom. These are plagues of the human spirit, not the human body, but they can be just as debilitating and just as deadly as any disease of the body.
The Eden Register is an honour society that elevates and acknowledges the hard work of going against long-standing institutional systems and creating a true home and community. Homes listed on the Eden Register have committed to doing just that, through the adoption of the Eden Alternative Principles and Practices. Implementing the Eden Alternative is a journey and homes on the Eden Register are all at different stages of growth along that journey. They are admitted to the Eden Register based on their foundation of Eden Alternative education, the support and commitment of their formal leadership and their plans for ongoing growth and implementation. The Eden Alternative organisation provides guidance, support and encouragement to these homes, but does not offer close supervision of their daily operations.
Ron Smith Care Centre for older persons began its Eden Alternative journey in 2012 and since then, has made a number of physical and operational changes to meet Eden Alternative assessment criteria. By joining the Eden Register, the staff and management of the home has confirmed their commitment to continue to work towards meaningful culture change through ongoing training and a continued dedication to making life better for those who live and work there.
Zabeth Zühlsdorff, Rand Aid GM: Services and Advance Division, says, “The Eden Alternative has shown us how close and continuous relationships, the opportunity to give meaningful care to other living things, and the variety and spontaneity that mark an enlivened community can succeed in enriching the lives of the elders in our care. It also shows us how to create a warm culture that is characterised by optimism, trust, generosity and people working together to make a better world for our elders. Most importantly, Eden teaches us that decisions belong with our elders, or as close to our elders as possible.”
“The traditional medical model that has been dominant in the care of our elders has many shortcomings. The plagues of the human spirit run rampant in these cold, sterile social and physical environments. Our elders need and deserve an opportunity for a life worth living, not just time spent waiting to die. With the adoption of the Eden Alternative Philosophy and Principles, Ron Smith Care Centre is working to show people it can be different,” says Rayne Stroebel, Eden Alternative Regional Co-ordinator: South Africa.