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Long-Term Care Home Checklists: Is there really a Garden of Eden among the weeds?

Posted Apr 19th, 2016 in Long-Term Care, Tips

Long-Term Care Home Checklists: Is there really a Garden of Eden among the weeds?

I recall there was much interest regarding the Eden Alternative® during my tenure working in Long-Term Care Homes.  The core Eden values, are based on the premise that animals, children, and living plants foster a home-like environment where seniors feel purpose, value and empowerment.

Does that Utopian environment actually exist in 2016? 

Do Long-Term Care Management Teams really strive to find that hallowed experience, amid pressures to meet budgets, legislative demands, and care needs?

When completing your Long-Term Care Home checklist, think about these suggested principals, and their impact on a homey environment.  Are some of these elements present in the viewed locations, and embraced by the culture of the workplace? 

Three Eden Alternative Suggestions

1)  How are Children integrated into Long-Term Care homes?  During your tour and checklist review, consider the following:

Are there intergenerational programs where seniors and children/students interact?

There are very few homes that host an onsite nursery school because of the time, space, cost, responsibility and "liability" risks.  (There's the word that stops so many budding opportunities!) Imagine a work place where employees could bring their children for daycare, with the alternate benefit of meaningful activities including the residents.

Check out this link to what appears to be an amazing example of intergenerational programming, where daycare and eldercare, collide beautifully. 

(Click here)  Magic abounds when daycare, seniors home, share roof

Not all homes will be able to offer this level of interaction, but consider some of these questions when touring a Long-Term Care home: 

  • Do schools visit and have a volunteer component offered at the LTC home?
  • Is this a host site for groups such as Brownies, Girl Guides, Scouts etc.?
  • Do children's groups visit on a regular basis to share time and interests?

2)  How are pets viewed in this Long-Term Care residence? A tour is an excellent time to inquire about the whereabouts of the home's animal mascot... if there is one.

Alas, where have all the animals gone?

Years ago, a feline (or two) would be noticed wandering the hallways seeking out a cuddle from a willing elder.  It seems this practice has been lost in translation, as newer buildings emerge.  

In interviewing some members of management teams, I have been alerted that the word "liability" has reared once again, especially when it comes to "live in" dogs.  Many homes now utilize visiting pet therapy dogs as a monthly opportunity for elder-animal interaction.  

Are Pets a Passion?  Consider the following questions:

  • Will a family pet be welcome to visit a resident at this home?
  • Are there pets other than cats and dogs, that allow Elders to engage in pet care/interaction? (birds, bunnies etc.)
  • Conversely, if this is a pet friendly home, and your elder has an allergy or aversion to cats or dogs, how is this managed?

3) Does this Long-Term Care residence offer green thumb therapy? Can you mark this off your home checklist?


  • A garden where elders are encouraged to grow and pick vegetables
  • Tulips popping through the soil, with colourful buds to show spring has arrived
  • What a tremendous opportunity for the avid gardener to embrace and continue to enjoy a passion
During your Long-Term care home tour, observe the surrounding landscape, and attention to creating an outdoor environment worth loving. Living plants offer stimulation to our senses while evoking memories.  Do you recall your first rose, a graduation corsage, a wedding bouquet?

A Garden Of Eden setting, sounds like a wonderful place to enjoy the golden years, while feeling a sense of community spirit; both within the home's physical structure, and in harmony with the surrounding neighbourhoods.

As you complete that next Long-Term Care residence tour, consider if this is a place that feels like "Home."

Is this YOUR veritable Garden of Eden?

"The Eden Alternative® is an international, non-profit organization dedicated to creating quality of life for Elders and their care partners, wherever they may live." http://www.edenalt.org/about-the-eden-alternative/mission-vision-values/
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