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Roni and GwendolynI think a true sign of a transformed culture is when the Elders living in the home are afforded the same opportunities of growth as the Stakeholders. When we can all grow together to truly set a vision for tomorrow, a clear path towards culture change is being built.

At Signature HealthCare we have trained hundreds of Eden Associates over the past few years. Through all of these trainings, we’ve never had an Elder express interest in attending until recently.

Connor McChurch, Administrator at Westmoreland Care and Rehabiition Center recounts Gwendolyn’s story below

As Gwendolyn Brown was being assisted into my front office Thursday morning, I could see the joy that she was feeling by her shoulder shimmy dance moves and the spark that lit up her face. Just 24 hours prior, Gwendolyn had achieved a milestone that she admitted “I didn’t think I could ever get at my age – I feel proud.” Gwendolyn had participated and completed a three day training program through The Eden Alternative called ‘Certified Eden Associate Training’. The training was hosted by Westmoreland Care & Rehabilitation Center where Gwendolyn currently lives as an Elder.

Knowing by her body language of how she was feeling, Gwendolyn confirmed when I asked “How does it feel to be an Eden Associate” by quickly responding “it (certification) made me feel good!” Gwendolyn went on to explain how much she enjoyed the training, particularly how interactive the training was, saying “my favorite part about the training was when everyone was acting out the training skits; I could see how much fun everyone was having”. One main part of Eden Associate training is getting the trainees to recognize how important being well known is through their elders’ eyes. One way to “be well known” during the training is to make your last name rhyme with your first and must contain a type of animal. Gwendolyns’ name she picked was “Jean Jax”.

Gwendolyn closed our conversation by remarking about the facility, “This place is always good.” “I feel like it’s my job to tell people how good you all treat me.” She went on to say she was apprehensive about first coming to Westmoreland Care & Rehabilitation Center over two years ago but admits, “It was better than I thought it would be.” Gwendolyn went on to say she enjoys her morning exercise, Friday Happy Hour, and friends – “all in that order!”

Principle Two of the Eden Alternative  teaches us that the “solution” to fighting the three plagues of loneliness, helplessness, and boredom is to create a Human Habitat. In fact, this Human Habitat is a place in which relationships are not only formed but are nurtured to growth.  The beauty of this week for Gwendolyn was that during the training, she was “one of the classmates”.  She was not limited to what others thought she could do. This has to be the key to creating a life worth living.