After reading this article here I was interested to find out a little more about Professor Bill Thomas the founder of the Eden Alternative and its influence here in the UK. The Eden Alternative is a movement that is “dedicated to transforming care environments into habitats for human beings that promote quality of life for all involved”. The video below gives further insights into a philosophy that also extends out into the community to help elderly people living in their own homes.
I was however a little disappointed with some of the comments that Bill Thomas was quoted as saying regarding the Eden Alternative perspective in a recent interview about robots and elderly people;
“I can say with confidence that people in that reform movement really are not looking for a robot to solve our problems,”
I think I need to find out a bit more!
The idea of improving elderly people’s lives by addressing aspects of spatial, social & cultural well being is hardly new thinking and yet the Eden Alternative seems to epitomize and accordingly highlight the view that these essential moral, social & cultural responsibilities are not actually being maintained in contemporary elder care spaces – formal or informal?
However, as Sherry Turkle has maintained since the late 90’s the possibilities of emotional engagement with robots present a potential change in our social psychology and further to this perhaps, new distance oriented social networking arrangements. Perhaps Bill Thomas has not seen the robotic technology which is currently available and which may yet solve some of our problems – including the points highlighted in my previous post regarding care home abuse in the UK.