The Eden Alternative, a philosophy focused on making life for those in residential care as close as possible to what it would be in their own homes, is well established at Switzer Residential Care in Kaitaia.

"The Eden Alternative complements our philosophy. It aims to empower residents, staff and families. It is a philosophy based on health, wellness, and improving the quality of life and wellbeing of our residents by alleviating loneliness, helplessness and boredom, and promoting a person-centred approach to care," general manager Jackie Simkins said.

"At Switzer we believe it's not the years in the life but the life in the years that matters most, and we work hard to ensure that we provide an environment where people can flourish in a real human habitat that includes regular and consistent access to plants, animals and children."

That would not be possible, she added, without the support of the small army of volunteers who played a huge role in life at the home every day of the year.


Volunteer co-ordinators Gail and Brian Gillespie had expanded the opportunities for residents to develop new relationships, to participate in meaningful activities, and to have one-on-one time with visitors.

"We appreciate their efforts, and thank all our volunteers," she added.

"Volunteers bring variety and spontaneity to the lives of our residents, contributing to meaningful activities such as cooking, reading, art, exercise, and looking after the animals and plants.

"Visit our website ( and read about volunteering at Switzer. We would love to hear from you."

Volunteers had been thanked in a tangible way when they were invited to the home as guests for an alfresco lunch.