The Sacred Heart Hospital in Roscommon won a Taoiseach’s award for its adoption of the Eden Alternative™, a worldwide care philosophy designed to deinstitutionalise and transform the culture and environment of long term residential care.
Julie Silke Daly, Director of Nursing at the Sacred Heart Hospital said that at the core of Eden is the empowerment of both residents and staff, giving them a strong voice in the direction of facility life.
“While this is not a new concept, it focuses on a different way of thinking, promotes
flexibility and ultimately helps residents to live enriched and fulfilled lives where symptoms of loneliness, helplessness and boredom are alleviated by providing meaningful relationships, purposeful activity and giving as well as receiving care. Systems of care are often designed to maximise efficiency and not to address the unique needs and wishes of each resident.
“This culture change across the Sacred Heart commenced with a series of education sessions, including all aspects of dementia care, with staff at all levels and has simultaneously led to significant reductions in the incidence of falls, use of benzodiazepines and staff absenteeism.
“One of the key transformations is staff creativity in implementing a range of meaningful and diverse activities to prevent loneliness, boredom and helplessness of residents
“One of the key transformations is staff creativity in implementing a range of meaningful and diverse activities to prevent loneliness, boredom and helplessness of residents and continuous efforts to seek opportunities for engagement with the wider community.
“Meaningful activities range from entertainers, animal visits, games like golf Wii, beauty therapy, crafts, exercise classes, intergenerational work and encouragement of everyday skills like cooking, preparing the dining room, feeding pets such as hens and fish and outdoor activities such as gardening.
“Spontaneous interventions are now commonplace: such as town visits on a fine day, shopping trips, changes in shift patterns and resident mealtimes, an ice cream party
and an evening sing – along with a celebrity. Strong links have been made with local schools leading to regular visits from school children who join in the activities.”
Mary Butler, Asst. Director of Nursing at the hospital said the environment had also been transformed, with the provision of more space by incorporating traditional designs and relaxing ambiance with interior design themes including wall paper designs, indoor plants and household accessories. Residents were fully involved in the upgrade process and formed their own committee facilitated by an advocate and one leader resident.
She said “Personal areas were improved by providing generous spaces for home furnishings for each resident. The larger communal areas have a more homely charm with residents can participate in planned or spontaneous activities or simply experiencing the coming and goings of day-to-day life.” The Sacred Heart Hospital is now validated by the Eden Alternative, an internationally recognised philosophy of care for residential care homes which spans North America, UK/Ireland and Scandinavia, Australia/NZ, South Africa, (www.edenalt.org or www.eden-alternative.co.uk)
“Co-funding to support the transformation programme came from the local community through many innovative fund-raising events like fashion shows, concerts, charity
marathons, dinner dances and raffles. The Sacred Heart Hospital is on a continual “Eden-izing journey”, creating a habitat with amazing positive outcomes and where people feel comfortable and want to live, work and visit always.”