Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Eden Alternative

For the last couple of days I have been attending a conference of the managers of the UK’s largest not for profit provider of care and property for older people (more of that term in a moment). The keynote speaker at the conference was Bill Thomas, the founder of the Eden Alternative. Bill was named (by the WSJ) as one of the 12 people who are changing retirement in the US. You can see him perform in the above video.

Bill gave a great presentation, one that was aimed at both the head and the stomach. If you don’t know about the Eden Alternative (nothing to do with the Eden Project) then you should. Here is the web site and Bill’s blog.

The intro to his speech involved an interview style session with the head of the company’s Care Services. One of the topics discussed was the differences in language between the US and the UK. Whilst I have seen the term ‘elders’ used I haven’t thought about the positive connotations that it has compared with “older people”. A small thing you might think but fundamental to the way society positions ‘elders’ on the positive, rather than negative side of the balance sheet, where it pigeonholes “old people”.

I am sure I will write some more about Bill Thomas – a very interesting guy – even though he has the strangest taste in footwear! Dick Stroud

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