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The Eden Alternative is a philosophy of person directed care. It is designed to eliminate an institutional response to people living in residential or community settings. It is an ‘alternative’ way of providing care and support to people living in various residential or community or disability settings.

A highly adaptable philosophy, The Eden Alternative currently offers Principles and Practices that acknowledge and support the unique needs of people in various living environments, ranging from the nursing home (including memory support communities) to individual family homes and group homes.

Eden promotes moving away from a traditional/institutional operational model to one that is about the person and relationships. It embraces differences and embodies the human rights of the individual no matter where they live.

The framework of the Ten Eden Principles and the seven Eden Domains of Wellbeing enable organisations to operationalise these concepts into their business model to become an alternative choice in services and support.

The Eden Alternative is a not for profit organisation based in the USA promoting, advocating and educating this person directed philosophy. It is a global organisation with a number of Eden regions around the globe. The Eden philosophy has been adopted in more than 18 countries around the world. These regions are significant partners in the mission of the Eden Alternative. In Australia, we hold the license of the Eden Alternative and the operational responsibility for developing the framework across Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia.

The Eden Alternative commenced in the early 1990’s with Dr Bill Thomas M.D and Jude Thomas. They saw a need to alleviate loneliness, helplessness and boredom in nursing homes. Initially focusing upon de- institutionalising nursing home operations, today the flexibility of application of the Eden Alternative can been seen in many other healthcare environments including community care, disability and mental health services.

The Eden Alternative is an alternative approach to care support services in residential and community settings. By adopting The Eden Alternative you commit to changing the culture of your organisation, moving away from an institutional model to a team based model. Using empowerment as an approach to change, the Eden Alternative is able to demonstrate sustainable and long lasting outcomes when there is commitment across the business to improving the lives of all the people they support, especially those living with different abilities, including those living with dementia.

The Eden Alternative approach is for everybody. It is relevant for residential aged and community care, disability services and mental health services.

“Culture is a set of beliefs, norms and values about what is desirable and undesirable in a community of people, and a set of formal or informal practices to support the values” Culture is a subtle but pervasive force. It is often expressed as ‘the way we do things here’.

In both long and short-term living environments, as well as home and community-based settings the culture of a home is often seen through an institutional lens. The culture is often defined by the rules which are enforced. Staff are monitored through punitive time / task processes and the individual needs of the person are not supported. There is minimal empowerment for individuals. The basis human rights of people living in these environments is often overlooked or ignored.

“Culture change supports the creation of both long and short-term living environments as well as home and community-based settings where both older adults and their care partners are able to express choice and practice self-determination in meaningful ways at every level of daily life.” Pioneer Network

Culture change requires personal, organisational and physical / environmental transformations to occur that is long term and sustainable. Sharing the vision and mission of the new direction, the empowerment of the individual and staff enables a stronger development of meaningful and deep relationships and the individual human rights of the person are upheld, supported and strengthened.

The seven Eden Alternative Domains of Well-Being were created in 2005. Together, they serve as a simple framework for asking thoughtful questions that help identify the unmet needs of those we care for.

The Eden domains are:

  • IDENTITY—being well-known; having personhood; individuality; having a history

  • GROWTH—development; enrichment; expanding; evolving

  • AUTONOMY—liberty; self-determination; choice; freedom

  • SECURITY—freedom from doubt, anxiety, or fear; safety; privacy; dignity; respect

  • CONNECTEDNESS—belonging; engaged; involved; connected to time, place, and nature

  • MEANING—significance; heart; hope; value; purpose; sacredness

  • JOY—happiness; pleasure; delight; contentment; enjoyment

Eden training enables people to explore the Framework of the Eden Alternative and learn how to apply it to their personal and professional lives. The premium, foundation education workshop is the Certified Eden Associate course. This is usually delivered face to face.

Check our other training options.

Assuming that the organisation’s management team is stable, are committed to implementing the Eden Alternative, it will take approximately 4-5 years to become a fully registered Eden home. The first step is to educate a number of your staff as Eden Associates.


The Green House project was designed to showcase a new housing design model that supported a person directed approach to care and support in smaller group homes. Created by Dr Bill Thomas, this new design highlighted the benefits of the Eden Alternative as it applied to purpose built, smaller, household or neighbourhood style living environments. The Green House has gone from strength to strength and continues to offer alternative thinking on the built environment.

If the organisation is claiming to be an Eden Registry member, look for their Eden Plaque. Ask the home or organisation about their Eden journey.

Check out our registered homes or centre listings.

When choosing a home or service to support your loved one or family member, do your research. Consider the following:

  1. Ask for personal recommendations.

  2. Visit a home or centre over a number of days.

  3. What is the reputation of this organisation? What is their star rating?

  4. Put yourself in the shoes of the end user. What are you looking for, not only your loved one or family member if you needed care tomorrow.

  5. See if you can stay a night or two; Have a meal. Speak with the people who live / work there.

Consider some of the following questions to ask:

  • Ask how the organisation alleviates loneliness, helplessness and boredom?

  • Can I bring my pet with me? Can my family stay overnight?

  • How are people living with memory loss treated? Are they separated from everyone else, excluded?

  • Is this a purpose built small home for people living with dementia?

  • What is the model of care they offer (if any)?

  • What is the staff mix? What education occurs for staff and others?

  • How many people live here or attend the centre or service on any given day?

  • What is the environment like? – too noisy? Too dark; too many people? Easy to navigate?

  • Finally, put yourself in your loved ones shoes and ask yourself, “would I want to live / visit / come here?” If not, move on!