St. John’s Living Center is an Eden Alternative Registered Home

The Eden Alternative is a powerful tool for improving quality of life. It creates better social and physical environments for our Elders by developing enlivening environments and by eliminating the plagues of loneliness, helplessness and boredom.

Core Concept

The core concept of The Eden Alternative is strikingly simple. It shows us how companion animals, the opportunity to give meaningful care to other living creatures, and the variety and spontaneity that mark an enlivened environment can succeed where medication and therapies fail.

Our goal is to help people weave together the philosophy of the Eden Alternative with the real world of daily practice. We must teach ourselves to see places where Elders live as habitats for human beings rather than facilities for the frail and elderly.

We must learn what Mother Nature has to teach us about vibrant, vigorous living. The bulk of our work to date has been in de-institutionalizing the culture and environment of today’s nursing homes and other long-term care institutions.

Habitats Nurture vs Institutional Control

Most importantly, Eden teaches us that decisions belong with our Elders, or as close to our Elders as possible. Our Elders want, need, and deserve autonomy over their daily lives. Edenizing our care centers gives it back to them. The traditional institutional model that has been dominant in the care of our Elders has many shortcomings. The plagues of the human spirit run rampant in these cold, sterile, social and physical environments. Our Elders need and deserve an opportunity for a life worth living, not just time spent waiting to die.

Benefits of a Principle-Centered Philosophy

The Eden Alternative is a complete, principle-centered philosophy for culture change. It differs from the programmatic approach (dining program, bathing program, etc.) or the model approach to transformation (neighborhood, household, etc.) in that it provides a new way of thinking and new values that become the foundation for dramatic and sustainable transformation of our organization and the people who come in contact with our organization.

Because it becomes the foundation of everything we do and the way we think, it can then be applied in any organizational or physical model. With those values in place, it can also make any new program easy to apply and proactive.

Each Mission Care Center is integrating and adopting the Ten Principles that form the core of the Eden Alternative:

• The three plagues of loneliness, helplessness and boredom account for the bulk of suffering among our Elders.
• An Elder-centered community commits to creating a Human Habitat where life revolves around close and continuing contact with plants, animals and children. It is these relationships that provide the young and old alike with a pathway to a life worth living.
• Loving companionship is the antidote to loneliness. Elders deserve easy access to human and animal companionship.
• An Elder-centered community creates opportunity to give as well as receive care. This is the antidote to helplessness.
• An Elder-centered community imbues daily life with variety and spontaneity by creating an environment in which unexpected and unpredictable interactions and happenings can take place. This is the antidote to boredom.
• Meaningless activity corrodes the human spirit. The opportunity to do things that we find meaningful is essential to human health.
• Medical treatment should be the servant of genuine human caring, never its master.
• An Elder-centered community honors its Elders by de-emphasizing top-down bureaucratic authority, seeking instead to place the maximum possible decision-making authority into the hands of the Elders or into the hands of those closest to them.
• Creating an Elder-centered community is a never-ending process. Human growth must never be separated from human life.
• Wise leadership is the lifeblood of any struggle against the three plagues. For it, there can be no substitute.

For more information about the Eden Alternative visit