The Eden Alternative Rallies Elders and Others to Help South African Nursing Home Residents

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An international eldercare organization invites people across the globe to support a small act of kindness for South African elders and their care partners.

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There are no borders when it comes to creating communities where life is worth living,” - Carol Ende.

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The Eden Alternative, an international non-profit focused on eldercare, recently wrapped up a successful crowd-funding campaign to raise $11,500 for St. Antonine’s Old Age Home in rural Kwazulu Natal, South Africa. Funds were raised to perform a small act of kindness with big impact – the purchase of washing machines, a dryer, and laundry detergent to meet the needs of 60 elders, many of whom are from the Zulu culture.

“Until now, the staff of this home has had to wash the laundry of 60 residents by hand every day,” says Rayne Stroebel, the Eden Alternative Regional Coordinator for South Africa. “They have transported the laundry on a converted wheelchair to washing lines where they hang out the washing to dry – winter, summer, 365 days of the year.”

The fundraiser was the brainchild of Carol Ende, Leader of Transformation and Growth for The Eden Alternative. During a recent visit to South Africa, Ende was struck by the daily efforts of the St. Antonine's staff to clean linens and clothes for the residents. The need was clear and responding to it aligned with The Eden Alternative’s mission to create quality of life for elders wherever they live. “There are no borders when it comes to creating communities where life is worth living,” said Ende.

Caring for 60 elders is work enough without the added strain of hand-washing laundry on a daily basis, yet this is a reality for many people in developing nations. In America, 10,000 boomers are turning 65 every day and policy makers and long-term care professionals are worrying about the impact it will have on our existing infrastructure. Countries all around the world are experiencing a similar phenomenon and many, such as South Africa, have neither the resources nor the infrastructure to handle it.

On the global scale raising $11,500 for washers and dryers may not seem significant, but it highlights the compassion and values of people working in the long-term care industry, “We knew we could rally our many friends around the world to support a campaign to help, and as expected many people stepped up to help us reach the goal. What a great feeling for everyone involved," said Chris Perna CEO of The Eden Alternative.

At Mountain City Care and Rehabilitation Center in Mountain City, Tennessee, the elders coordinated a bake sale to support the cause and raised additional funds through the sale of taco salads. “Doing what we could as a community didn’t feel like an option,” said Diana Branch, Administrator. “St. Antonine’s story really spoke to the hearts of the people who live and work here. It gave us a chance to discuss together how truly blessed we are.”

The Eden Alternative advocates for a person-directed approach care. Person-directed care is structured around the unique needs, preferences, and desires of the individual in question. One of the tenets of person-directed care is that a “mitzvah” or small act of kindness done with no intention of repayment is central to creating a culture of caring that puts the person first. “In the Eden Alternative culture, the ‘mitzvah’ can truly change the very foundation of an organization,” said Stroebel.

Caregivers around the world feel a connection to each other and the work they do. In fact, the Indiegogo fundraiser received donations from people in over 23 countries including Australia, the UK, and Denmark.
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About The Eden Alternative
A leader in the culture change movement for the past 20 years, The Eden Alternative is an international, nonprofit 501(c) 3 organization that provides education and consultation for organizations across the entire continuum of care. As a person-directed care philosophy, it is dedicated to creating care environments that promote quality of life for Elders and those who support them as care partners.

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Virgil Thomas

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