Clermont Park in Denver has embraced The Eden Alternative because it is good for residents, it is good for team members and it good for the bottom line.

A few weeks ago I published an article welcoming The Eden Alternative as a new Senior Housing Forum partner.  As is my usual practice I posted a link to the article in about 40 LinkedIn Discussion groups. One guy came out with guns blazing saying that The Eden Alternative was massively expensive and had little, if any, value. Included in his comments were that it was mostly just about cats and dogs and that lots of people have problems with animals. I had some dialog with him and it was clear he had a serious vendetta against The Eden Alternative. Even though I always like a vigorous discussion and once in a while I am even up for a good fight, this guy’s vituperous attack after the first response was better just ignored.

The Real Story

Earlier this week I spent an hour or so on the phone with Jill Vitale-Aussem, the Executive Director of Clermont Park, a Denver, Colorado CCRC, talking about the impact, costs and benefits of Clermont Park being an Eden Registry Member.  Perhaps the single most important thing you need to know is that Jill has, over the past four or five years, spent a few thousand dollars of Clermont Parks’ money to fully integrate the Eden way of caring for elders and is a raging fan.  Here is why:

  • Prior to implementing the Eden principles as a way of life, management at Clermont Park spouted lots of words about being person-centered, but if you were to take a hard look at how they did senior living it would have been more or less “same old same old”.   It was a pretty good community that stayed pretty full but, honestly, it wasn’t good enough.  It was still fundamentally about caring for old people as opposed to empowering and giving purpose to residents.
  • Implementing Eden meant a huge reduction in workers compensation costs.
  • Implementing Eden meant residents going from having lip-servece control over their lives to real control over their lives.
  • Implementing Eden meant residents went from being pampered with no real purpose in life to regaining purpose in life.
  • Clermont Park went from being an okay (maybe even a bit better than average) place to live – from the residents’ perspective; a place to make a living – from the staff’s perspective; and a place to put mom or dad until they die – from the families perspective, to a place that is amazing to live at, to work at and to go visit.
  • It is a place that makes residents smile that they are there.  It makes families smile because their loved ones have a new lease on life.  It makes team members smile because they love coming to work.

Is it Worth It?

The guy who was bashing The Eden Alternative claimed it would cost north of $100,000 for a single skilled nursing facility to implement Eden.  He just plain has it wrong.  For a few thousand dollars a senior community can become an Eden Registry Member, and it will pay huge benefits in terms of reduced turnover, better surveys, reduced workers compensation costs and higher occupancy. Jill and her team at Clermont Park have invested heavily in the four  Eden Educators on staff and more than 90 team members and residents who have gone through Certified Eden Associate Training.  They offer free classes twice each year free to staff and residents.  Each and every time the classes are completely booked, because they make such a difference in the lives of residents and team members.

The Caveat

I am not sure The Eden Alternative (can we slip it in here?) will be so happy with this, but it is only fair.  While becoming an Eden Registry Member will massively improve your bottom line it won’t work unless you really believe in and buy into the concept of passing control to residents and team members.   As I talked to Jill over and over again she would say:

“It wasn’t me it was the staff”  or “It wasn’t me it was the residents”.

If you need to hold on to the control it won’t work.  If you are thinking about Eden as just another trick or technique to make money it won’t work.  On the other hand, if you are all about creating a better day for residents, families and staff Eden will rock your world in the best possible way. If you are interested in learning more here are three suggestions:

Steve Moran

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