Eden Gardens residents hold hands in a neighbourhood (Submitted photo)

Compassion and enthusiasm are at the centre of Eden Gardens’ approach to dementia care

By 2031, an estimated 937,000 Canadians will be living with dementia

At Eden Gardens – a dementia care facility in Nanaimo – the person comes before the diagnosis.

Eden Gardens, formerly known as the Nanaimo Traveller’s Lodge, offers a compassionate approach for seniors with dementia. 130 residents live at Eden Gardens, and around 160 people come to their day program on a monthly basis. Eden Gardens’ residents come from Qualicum Beach to the Cowichan Valley.

Erin Beaudoin, Chief Motivator and CEO of Eden Gardens said their philosophy is to fight the three plagues of humankind: helplessness, boredom, and loneliness.

“When you’ve boredom, helplessness, and loneliness, you fight it with spontaneity, meaningful give-and-receive care, and companionship,” Beaudoin said.

As of today, there are over half a million Canadians living with dementia. According to statistics from the Alzheimer Society of Canada, there will be 937,000 Canadians living with dementia by 2031. Costs for dementia care are expected to rise to $16.6 billion by 2031 as well. The Alzheimer Society is calling for the immediate development of a national dimentia care strategy. Approaches to dementia care shown at Eden Gardens could play a role in that strategy.

Residents of Eden Gardens do not live in ‘wards’, they live in neighbourhoods and communities. 11 residents live in a neighbourhood, and two neighbourhoods can connect through a door to make a community.

The neighbourhoods are slowly filling up with vintage furniture donated to Eden Gardens to make neighbourhoods feel more like home. Each neighbourhood is different – some even have pets like cats or birds.

“We try to collect antique furniture and things that will prompt reminiscence,” Beaudoin said. “You get the story telling, and when they talk about themselves or the story, they’re more at peace than if they’re searching for something to do or trying to leave. Then we can understand that person better so we can do their care better.”

Ground floor neighbourhoods have access to outdoor gardens. Upper level communities have air conditioned solariums filled with plants. Residents with the ability to help with gardening are encouraged to do so. The care goes beyond gardening. If there’s something a resident wants, Beaudoin and her staff make every effort to make sure they get it.

“It’s about trying to be person centred, and trying to treat more than just the human body. We want to treat the soul, see who that person is, and what they can bring to our environment,” Beaudoin said.

Continuity of staff is important in dementia care, so Eden Gardens keeps regular staff in neighbourhoods. Each resident has an individual care plan so staff know the likes and dislikes of the people they are providing care to.

Each neighbourhood has wooden birds on a wire that represent the residents in that neighbourhood. When residents pass away, their birds are placed on an arbutus tree in the neighbourhood. Rather than moving bodies out of sight and impersonally, they are moved through the front door – the same way they came in.

“It’s really emotional, and an honourable way to leave our home,” Beaudoin said. “These are people we loved.”

Eden Gardens fundraises to provide programs like music therapy, art therapy, and horticultural therapy for their residents. The programs cost roughly $110,000 per year – Beaudoin said she could easily triple the programs and still not meet demand.

Everything at Eden Gardens is built around giving the residents choice, and making them feel like they are at home. At the core of it all is love, and compassion, rather than providing care that focuses simply on a diagnosis.

“It’s time to stop being this institution, and start doing things in a different way,” Beaudoin said.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. firefighters only responding to most life-threatening calls during COVID-19 pandemic

The directive comes after province spoke with paramedics, fire services, according to top doctor

‘An extra $220 every 90 days’: B.C. patients pay more dispensing fees due to prescription limits

Kelowna woman says it’s outrageous to charge for refills every 30 days

No more ferries will sail from Departure Bay, Mill Bay, Brentwood Bay during COVID-19 pandemic

B.C. Ferries announces major changes to sailing schedules for 60 days starting Saturday, April 4

Suspect arrested after allegedly setting house fire in Cedar

Firefighters arrived to find mobile home ablaze on Barnes Road on Thursday

‘Better days will return’: Queen Elizabeth delivers message amid COVID-19 pandemic

The Queen said crisis reminds her of her first address during World War II in 1940

Ongoing list of Ladysmith COVID-19 cancellations and closures

Everything in Ladysmith that has been impacted by COVID-19

Woman arrested in Nanaimo after attempted RV break-in with owner inside

Incident happened April 1 in the 700 block of Drake Street

Emergency aid portal opens Monday, cash could be in bank accounts by end of week: Trudeau

Emergency benefit will provide $2,000 a month for those who have lost their income due to COVID-19

Education, not enforcement: B.C. bylaw officers keeping a watch on physical distancing

A kind word, it turns out, has usually been all people need to hear

COVID-19: Hospitals remain safe for childbirth, say Vancouver Island care providers

North Island Hospital has been asked to share its perinatal COVID-19 response plan

Canadian cadets to mark 103rd anniversary of Vimy Ridge April 9 virtually

Idea of Captain Billie Sheridan in Williams Lake, B.C. who wondered what to do in times of COVID-19

B.C. VIEWS: Pandemic shows need for adequate care home staffing

Seniors in B.C. care homes face challenging times

Most Read