Switzer Residential care in Kaitaia officially opened a new amenity for its residents last week.

The Garden of Eden (it is a garden, and part of the home's Eden Alternative endeavours), was an impressive achievement, according to trust chairman Peter Dryburgh.

Assuring residents, staff and guests that they would not find a serpent there, he confessed that he had had very little to do with it apart from the occasional tour, but he knew how much some of the residents had enjoyed being involved.

The garden, he added, encapsulated the difference between a corporate-owned home and one that belonged to its community.


"Switzer belongs to this community, and the community is totally involved in everything you have here," he said.

The community had certainly played its part this time, from the volunteers who assisted gardener Iva Grant and maintenance man Ken Cherrington to the businesses and individuals who contributed time and materials, from artificial turf, raised garden beds and seedlings to a shade sail, seating, cushions and a fence.

Mr Dryburgh had no doubt that the garden would enhance the residents' quality of life, and paid particular tribute to Ms Grant, who he described as implementing the principles of the Eden Alternative admirably in everything she did.

General manager Jackie Simkins also thanked Mr Cherrington, the residents and volunteers who had been involved, and especially Ms Grant.

"The skills she has brought to this really show the power of the Eden Alternative," she said.

The Eden Alternative is a philosophy that calls for the creation of an environment as close as possible to what residents enjoyed in their own homes by providing regular contact with people of all ages, along with access to pets, plants and gardens.

Enabling residents to be actively involved in establishing and maintaining that environment was key, Ms Simkins said last year, when the garden project began taking shape.

"We are committed to making Switzer a loving, caring, nurturing place for the older people who find it is now their home," she added.

"We are keen to ensure they are provided with person-centred care, that they have the opportunity to participate in decision-making, the opportunity to give as well as receive care, and to contribute in a home where their voice is heard and respected," she said.

"We also need to ensure there is variety and spontaneity in their lives, and meaningful activities to be involved in, if they wish."