Ron Smith Care Centre is the very first organisation in Gauteng, and only the second in Africa, to become members of the Eden Alternative South Africa registry. By doing this, the Rand Aid Association care centre, situated in Lyndhurst, has committed to improving the care and quality of life of those they serve, alongside over 350 international long-term care organisations.
The Eden Alternative is a small not-for-profit organisation founded by Dr William Thomas, a Harvard-educated physician and Board Certified Geriatrician, in the USA in 1991. Its philosophy is based on the core belief that ageing is a continued stage of development and growth, rather than the common notion that it’s a period of decline.
The core concept of the Eden Alternative teaches us to see places where the elderly live as habitats for humans rather than facilities for the frail. It supports the creation of communities which help eliminate the plagues of loneliness, boredom and helplessness.
At the Ron Smith Care Centre on November 24th, 2016, fabulously decorated tables were set in a marquee and residents, volunteers, staff members, members of the Rand Aid board and village committees gathered to witness and support Rayne Stroebel, the Eden Alternative Regional Co-ordinator for South Africa, present an official Eden plaque to Rae Brown, the Rand Aid CEO and Rand Aid GM for the Services and Advance Division, Zabeth Zühlsdorff.
This care centre began its Eden Alternative journey in 2012, and since then, has made a number of operational changes to meet the Eden Alternative assessment criteria.
“Ladies and gentlemen, whoever said that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks, was wrong,” said Zabeth at the celebration. “Here we are, after 26 years, and the Ron Smith Care Centre has been transformed.”
“In 1990, when this care centre was built, everyone still thought that residential care for elders should resemble hospitals, both in structure and services” Added Zabeth.
She explained that back then, good housekeeping, excellent nursing care, nutritious meals and efficient administration were considered sufficient for the care of older people.
“But so much more is needed,” she added. “Through our Eden Alternative journey, Rand Aid management realised that our mission is not just to nurse patients. We should start with providing a real HOME for each resident who chooses to live with us. A home where every individual feels valued, has the opportunity to grow, develop new interests, practise new and old hobbies, socialise with friends and family, contribute to their community, and have real meaningful relationships with the staff and other residents.
“In short, we must ensure that each elder is enabled to live life to the fullest as part of a loving, caring and supportive family. And in surroundings that resemble home as much as possible” Said Zabeth.
Chairman of the Rand Aid Board, John Robinson, went on to explain how Rand Aid has transformed over the years and has committed to working towards the rollout of the Eden principles at all the Rand Aid properties.
Board member, Neil Garden, heartily congratulated management and staff on their great achievement so far, explaining that they go about their work with great enthusiasm and compassion.
“What an honour it is to be in the presence of excellence,” said Rayne. “I find it fascinating that an organisation that supports our elders should be taking the lead to show the world what service excellence is about.”
Jill Jones, a resident at Rand Aid, ended off the celebrations by speaking on behalf of the other residents, saying, “We are treated as individuals with different needs and wants. Many of our sisters and carers should be sprouting angel wings or haloes as they go about their daily tasks.”