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Celebrating 'uniqueness' of residents through Eden

Aged care provider, Wesley Mission Brisbane, has been awarded 'Eden in Oz & NZ' registration, providing an alternative to the medical model of care traditionally followed in aged care.
Wesley Mission Brisbane aged care resident, Joan, and Lily, from the Wheller Gardens on-site Little Marchants Child Care Centre, enjoy reading together.
Wesley Mission Brisbane aged care resident, Joan, and Lily, from the Wheller Gardens on-site Little Marchants Child Care Centre, enjoy reading together.

In what has been described as a Queensland 'first', eight of Wesley Mission Brisbane’s 13 aged care homes have been awarded Eden in Oz & NZ registration.

The not for profit provider has been on the journey of embracing the internationally recognised Eden Alternative philosophy since 2002.

Annie Gibney, Wesley Mission Brisbane’s director of residential aged care, says the Eden philosophy is a holistic approach to maintaining the wellbeing of elders in a healthy and spontaneous environment.

“Eden is a principle based philosophy that empowers residents and staff to transform institutional attitudes and practices to create a community where ‘life is worth living’ and in so doing seeks to eliminate loneliness, helplessness and boredom, which can often occur in the elderly,” Ms Gibney says.

“The philosophy is a way of life for our residents, staff and families. It is not a program. It is an ongoing and evolving way of living and working that includes resident pets, children, the profusion of plants and gardens, and the transformation of the management style and frequent involvement of family and friends and the local community. We actively celebrate and acknowledge the uniqueness of each individual resident in our care."

According to Ms Gibney, in the past five years, the aged care industry has undergone dramatic changes and will continue to do so as a result of the federal government’s Living Longer Living Better reforms which focus on giving residents increased choice and control of their care in a user-pays system.

“We have a responsibility to our clients to offer the best care possible, not just in a practical and physical sense, but in our relationships with staff and residents and their daily life. This philosophy encourages us to think differently about how we care for our residents – to think outside the box and find innovative ways to make residents daily life more meaningful and enriching," she says.

Eden in Oz & NZ, chairwoman, Cathy Meyer, says Wesley Mission Brisbane is reportedly the first aged care provider in Queensland to achieve Eden registration across eight homes.

“A home has to successfully achieve two principles (the Wise Leadership Principle and the Growing a Human Habitat Principle) to first join the Eden Registry. Over time, the remaining eight Principles are implemented and eventually and the full ten Principles are achieved to celebrate Full Eden Registration. As each home achieves the Principles, their culture change efforts are recognised and the home is given a plaque representing that principle,” Ms Meyers says.

“This plaque is displayed in a public and accessible place, usually in the foyer, with great pride. Wesley Mission Brisbane should be commended for their leadership, vision, dedication and commitment to their residents, clients, families and staff in providing and maintaining a culture where staff grow in confidence and residents are central to every day decision making.

"There is a certain ambience within their communities, and the manner in which staff relate to their residents and families and the looks on people’s faces that you don’t see in most other aged care communities.”

Wesley Mission Brisbane was the first provider of residential aged care in Queensland with the creation of The Garden Settlement at Chermside in 1936. Offering 13 aged care communities, retirement living, in-home care, allied health and respite services we have a long and proud history of providing compassionate and quality care for seniors.

The Eden Alternative recognises that many residents in aged care homes (or elderly people in the community) are suffering with loneliness, helplessness and boredom. The remedies to these concerns are based on providing opportunities for spontaneity in each day, loving human and animal companionship and empowering residents to give, as well as receive, care.

Eden in Action at Wesley Mission Brisbane looks like:

  • A range of animals and pets are part of the homes’ environment and greet you upon arrival and have a permanent presence in the residents living areas and are always a part of the homes daily rhythm.
  • Residents are encouraged to grow and tend to their own gardens and pot plants. Staff only facilitate or give a hand if requested.
  • The presence of children and young people is welcomed and encouraged. Staff bring in their children and babies. Residents see the children grow up and they become well known. Children from WMB’s own child care centres regularly make spontaneous visits to residents.
  • Dedicated Leisure and Lifestyle Coordinators, and all other staff, find innovative ways to involve all residents, regardless of their physical and medical needs, in meaningful activities.
  • Residents are seen to play vital roles within the home and decision making.
  • Staff demonstrate a sense of belonging and are empowered to contribute to residents wellbeing.

Find out more about the Eden in Oz & NZ philosphy.

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