Authenticity, Why it Matters

By / Posted on August 1st, 2017

Anne Ellett is a certified Nurse Practitioner (NP) with more than 20 years of experience in elder living and memory care, and served as Sr. Vice President with Silverado Senior Living, an award-winning Assisted Living company specializing in dementia care.  Currently, Anne is owner/CEO of Memory Care Support, LLC, a consulting agency working with senior housing professionals as they develop state-of-the-art health and wellness and memory care programs.

In Green House homes, authenticity matters – for example, we strive to build real homes, not fake homes, not pretend homes, not places that look like a home but really feel more like an institution.  We want to create that sense of belonging, of warmth and deep knowing that we all crave.  We want the elders to feel connected to the people and the space.

Best Life supports elders living with dementia (ELWD), and here too, we strive for authenticity.  For many ELWD, their experience has been one of loss and lack of choice.  Family, friends, and professionals may respond to their diagnosis rather than to the individual person, focusing on inabilities rather than retained talents and abilities.  The opportunities for real, authentic life experiences may be taken away, justified by saying, “It doesn’t really matter, they won’t know the difference.”

Best Life understands that being authentic does make a difference to elders and those working closest to them.  We know that real friendships, real relationships are meaningful.  One of the Best Life core principles is “Elder-directed, relationship-rich living.”  Offering opportunities for ELWD to sustain old relationships as well as the opportunity to form new ones is part of a normal life, and should be part of living with dementia.

Relationships with pets can also be important for ELWD.  How many of us enjoy the companionship of our pet cat or dog?  The joy that a dog brings when he puts his head in your lap, or a kitten who runs through the house chasing a ball of paper brings a lot of smiles.  An ELWD who can assist with feeding or walking the dog, or enjoys rubbing the neck of their favorite cat knows the significance of rapport with live animal.

As I visit many care locations, I am sometimes shown a community’s “pretend” pet animal program.  There are many varieties available of these fake pets, all of them claiming to bring joy to the elder.

Best Life focuses on real relationships built on retained abilities. If an ELWD is offered a robotic pet, they may respond and stroke it, but there’s no relationship, no purpose, no bond of love that is formed.

What would be the reason for not having a real pet – a loving dog or a real cat who can be the “diva” of the home?  Do we offer a robotic pet because again, we think, “It doesn’t really matter, they won’t know the difference?”  The magic that happens between an ELWD and a real pet cannot be substituted by offering a mechanical toy.

I’m reminded of one woman I knew who had recently moved into a home and was quickly labeled as a “challenge” by the care team.  Joan yelled out frequently, disrupting other elders.  She criticized both staff and elders and refused to participate when invited to meals or engagements.

As an annual event, the home sponsored a pet adoption day by the local animal shelter.  In preparation, the ELWD helped clear the patio where the public would be coming to view the adoptable pets. On the day of event, many volunteers with a variety of dogs and cats showed up at the home and as the volunteers and pets arrived, the elders greeted each one and welcomed them to their home for the pet adoption.

Joan initially resisted becoming involved, but as the dogs arrived, she focused on one small dog who was blind in one eye and was anxiously barking a lot.  As she pet the dog, it seemed to relax and finally laid down and closed its eyes.  Joan said, “It just needed some love,” and continued to sit by its side for the entire afternoon.

At the end of the day, the dog had not been adopted and the care team asked Joan if she would like to adopt it?  The look on Joan’s face said it all.  The significance of the friendship between Joan and her dog Freddy (Joan’s chosen name for it) was evident as the months passed.  It seemed Joan found purpose and peace when she and Freddy would sit together or as she fed it some of her favorite chicken dish that she had saved from her own dinner plate.

Best Life encourages an authentic, real home where an ELWD has opportunities for a life that is purposeful and relationship-rich. learn more>>

 

 

 

 


Green House Highlighted at 2017 Pioneer Network Conference

By / Posted on July 27th, 2017

Next week, visionary leaders will come together at the 2017 Pioneer Network Conference.  The theme, ‘Be The Future’, is a powerful charge to change the way society views aging, and create a better world for elders and those who work closest to them.  The goal of this conference is to showcase innovative thought and best practices in the long-term care culture change movement.  The Green House model is featured throughout the conference, and the national initiative is leading two sessions, one on the value of short term rehabilitation with a Green House home, and one on Best Life for elders living with dementia.

Short term rehabilitation presents an opportunity to position an organization for the future. The small house model provides a consumer-driven experience that leads to positive outcomes.  During the education session, The Green House Project will highlight The Woodlands of John Knox Village, an organization who has captured their market by utilizing The Green House model for short term rehabilitation.  They will share how they achieve positive outcomes using functional rehabilitation in the home, establish credibility with key stakeholders, and positively impact their bottom line.

As the population of the United States ages, the prevalence of Alzheimer’s and related dementia is growing. Dementia was estimated to cost the United States more than $236 billion in 2016.  To address this challenge, The Green House Project has developed Best Life, an initiative that aims to connect elders with life and community through the philosophical, architectural, and organizational elements of The Green House model. It requires dedicated teams, extensive knowledge of the types of dementia, and a fervent belief in the unique ability of every individual to enjoy a meaningful life.

The Green House Project is a proud leader of what is possible in long term care.  This conference is a time to connect with like-minded visionaries.  As the paradigm shifts to view elders as creative, resourceful and whole, their potential is unlocked, and we all benefit.

Learn more about The Pioneer Network>>


Green House homes in Florida are Supporting Elders to Live their Best Life

By / Posted on June 26th, 2017

Anne Ellett is a certified Nurse Practitioner (NP) with more than 20 years of experience in elder living and memory care, and served as Sr. Vice President with Silverado Senior Living, an award-winning Assisted Living company specializing in dementia care.  Currently, Anne is owner/CEO of Memory Care Support, LLC, a consulting agency working with senior housing professionals as they develop state-of-the-art health and wellness and memory care programs.

The Green House Project recognizes that providing a life affirming, dignified environment for elders living with dementia (ELWD) is imperative, especially given that over 80% of people living in long term care have some form of cognitive change.   Supporting these elders to thrive is a multifaceted process, and involves culture change.  Best Life is a new initiative, designed to support Green House teams, by building on the core values of Real Home, Meaningful Life and Empowered Staff, and providing enhanced education that focus on principles such as:

  • Power of Normal – normalizing programs and environments
  • Integration with greater community
  • Celebrating retained abilities
  • Dignity of Risk
  • Age-appropriate interactions
  • Elder-directed, relationship-rich living
  • Advocacy

 I had the pleasure of delivering this guided process of implementation at The Woodlands at John Knox Village (JKV) in Pompano Beach, Fl.  JKV is a wonderful location incorporating independent living, assisted living, a nursing community and 12 Green House homes onto one campus!  Their 12 homes have barely been open a few months but the leadership at JKV has the desire to strive for excellence in helping those with dementia thrive.  Educator, Dolores Hughes said, “We feel equipped with tools to implement immediately, and also challenged to see people living with dementia in a new way. Best Life is an eye-opening experience.”

BEST LIFE supports elders living with dementia (ELWD) to have choice and dignity, while living in the least restrictive environment possible.  Often, restrictions are due to our own perceptions of the capabilities and interests of ELWD.  Typically, we are trained to see the diagnosis first rather than the whole person, which can limit the experiences and choices we offer to the ELWD.  For example, as a nurse, I was trained to label “patients” by their diagnosis, i.e., the hip fracture in Room ###, or the patient with Alzheimer’s in Room ##.

When we use labels to identify someone, that prevents us from seeing the whole person and instead we focus on their loss of abilities,   “they’re not able to ______ (fill in the blank) because they are living with dementia, they would not be interested in doing ______ (fill in the blank) because they are living with dementia.”  In BEST LIFE, we learn to look beyond losses and inabilities toward retained capabilities and emerging talents.

As professionals, it’s important to examine our own training in the traditional model which emphasizes the diagnosis rather than the person.  Are we limiting the experiences we offer to ELWD?  For example, are we restricting them, perhaps from our own bias and belief that we need to segregate ELWD for their own safety?  New research shows that there is value in offering ELWD frequent experiences with the larger community and with younger generations.

BEST LIFE has three areas of focus: Culture, Meaningful Engagements, and Health and Well-being.  An entire day is devoted to each of these topics, looking both at our own biases and misperceptions of ELWD, and also examining new research from around the globe on new techniques that are beneficial and increase choice and dignity for ELWD.

During the BEST LIFE workshop at JKV, one of the most poignant experiences was when the participants shared what they would want the shahbazim to know about them if they were living with dementia.  Aside from details such as their favorite foods or activities, the participants overwhelmingly requested that they be enabled to continue to have fun and laughter, and opportunities to try new things, and also to continue to contribute and “give back”.

There are already stories of elders connecting with life in new ways, as a result of this new focus on retained abilities and strengths. There is an elder in The Woodlands who plays dominoes every day after lunch and loves to teach anyone else, and an individual who recovering in short term rehab and plays his harmonica.  Knowing him is a priority,  and his full personality shines!    There is a new garden growing in another one of the homes—it is amazing how nature, growth and learning enhances well-being for everyone.

 

 

 


GREEN HOUSE® PROJECT CONTINUES TO LEAD LONG-TERM CARE TRANSFORMATION WITH NEW $650,000 ROBERT WOOD JOHNSON FOUNDATION GRANT

By / Posted on June 6th, 2017

 

 

For more information, contact:  Susan Ryan
sryan@thegreenhouseproject.org or 703.615.2359

 

 

GREEN HOUSE® PROJECT CONTINUES TO LEAD LONG-TERM CARE TRANSFORMATION WITH NEW $650,000 ROBERT WOOD JOHNSON FOUNDATION GRANT

BALTIMORE, MDThe Green House® Project has received a two-year, $650,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to fulfill its mission of redefining—and humanizing—long-term care in the United States.

The Green House Project aims to end the institutionalization of older adults in America. Under this vision, all elders will have the opportunity to live in small, welcoming homes with dignity, autonomy, choice, and the best quality of life possible, while receiving the care they need.

The new RWJF grant will enable Green House Project leaders at the nonprofit Center for Innovation, which recently acquired the Green House trademark and intellectual property, to continue spearheading this movement. They will work with the leading Green House adopters to further refine the model while spreading it across the country.

Additionally, the national initiative plans to expand the impact of the Green House model through a specialized focus on people living with dementia, people in need of short-term rehabilitation services, and other areas of innovation. The Green House Project, the pioneer of the small house model, offers proven clinical and financial outcomes through a comprehensive cultural transformation across the entire organizational system.

“The Green House Project is a dynamic model that continues to evolve as an agile leader in the field,” said Scott Townsley, president of the Center for Innovation. “The success of the Green House Project has catalyzed a community of thought leaders who are discovering new ways to improve the lives of elders. We’re excited to work in partnership with them to change the way people age.”

The Center for Innovation, where the Green House Project is based, was founded by three members of the faculty at The Erickson School, University of Maryland Baltimore County. The Erickson School is the only program in the country offering both undergraduate and graduate degrees in the management of aging services.

The Green House Project launched more than a dozen years ago with the shared vision of its founder, William Thomas, M.D., and RWJF, for transforming long-term care. Today, 231 Green House homes are open and operating, serving elders in 32 states across the country, and another 150 are in the works.

“We owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. Thomas for his role in helping to get the Green House Project to where it is today,” said Susan Ryan, senior director of The Green House Project.  “We wish him well in his future endeavors to move the field forward.”

The Green House Project has a solid evidence base. Supported by RWJF, the THRIVE Research Collaborative conducted a comprehensive and rigorous evaluation of the Green House model.  A team of leading health care and long-term researchers conducted a half-dozen studies that addressed workforce issues, quality of care, cost savings, and culture change.  These studies, all published in the journal Health Services Research, found that:

  • Elders in Green House homes were less likely to be readmitted to the hospital, to be bedridden, to need catheters, or to have pressure sores than those in non-Green House homes.
  • Annual inpatient and skilled nursing facility Medicare costs were significantly lower for elders in Green House homes.
  • Caregiving staff in Green House homes spent more time per day with elders than caregiving staff in non-Green House homes.

“The Green House Project is what people want—for themselves and for their loved ones,” said Nancy Barrand, senior adviser for program development at RWJF.  “We want to ensure that every community has a Green House home and that the Green House Project becomes the standard of quality for all nursing care.”

 To learn more about The Green House Project, visit:  thegreenhouseproject.org

 

 

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Green House Model Fidelity Tool Ensures Sustainability

By / Posted on June 2nd, 2017

The Green House (GH) model is a valuable investment of time and resources, and can yield incredible results.  As the only evidence based culture change initiative, it has been proven, and together with Green House adopters around the country, there is a responsibility to protect it.   The Model Enrichment Resource & Integrity Tool (MERIT) was developed in response to insights gained through research.  It is used as a tool to assess model integrity across all Green House homes.

MERIT Assessments

The term MERIT  (Model Enrichment Resource and Integrity Tool) is used to describe the GH model integrity process. However, MERIT is an umbrella term for several GH evaluation and assessment tools.

 MERIT Staff Assessment

  • The MERIT Staff Assessment is designed to evaluate the application of the core values of Real Home, Meaningful Life, and Empowered Staff in Green House homes. The MERIT Staff Assessment launched in 2015 and has been administered to open Green House homes in 2015 and 2016. It is used to measure how model fidelity manifests in practice.

MERIT Organizational Outcomes Assessment (new for 2017)

  • This tool gathers quality outcomes from Green House organizations including key clinical and financial indicators. These clinical and financial benchmarks will provide a valuable comparison to the MERIT Staff Assessment data, and parallels an organization’s data collection through its QI and QM processes.

MERIT Staff Assessment for Legacy Homes (new for 2017)

  • This online tool assesses the application of The Green House core values in a legacy environment. Green House organizations interested in assessing the level of alignment to the core values in their legacy environment and understanding the level of cultural transformation across the organization may contract with GHP for the delivery of the assessment tool. Participation is voluntary. The administration of this assessment tool follows the same process as the GH MERIT Staff Assessment.

More Information

The Green House model is based on three fundamental core values: Meaningful Life, Empowered Staff, and Real Home.  These values play an important role in successfully implementing and sustaining the integrity of the Green House model, as evidenced by:

  • Consistent care delivery and shared goals among Green House adopters
  • The most comprehensive approach to holistic culture change grounded in elder-centered values and essential practices
  • Standards that protect the integrity of The Green House brand and investment of organizations who have committed to the model
  • On-going opportunities for Green House peer support and accountability
  • Impact on a national scale with emphasis on research and growth of the model

The design and administration of the MERIT online assessment and database management process is managed by the Center for Social Research (CSR) at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  CSR conducts social-scientific research on behalf of Calvin faculty and a wide array of local, national, and international organizations.  Each year, the tool evolves and is refined.

 

 

 

 


The First Green House Homes in Rhode Island Are Open

By / Posted on May 22nd, 2017

THE GREEN HOUSE Homes at Saint Elizabeth Home in East Greenwich are open! These are the first new nursing homes to open in RI in over 25 years.


New CMS Regulations, a Win for Person-Directed Living

By / Posted on April 7th, 2017

As thought leaders Green House adopters lead the way by supporting, and deeply knowing each individual living in their homes. With the introduction of new CMS regulations comes the opportunity for Green House homes to demonstrate how the model is designed to ensure each elder is able to live on his/her own terms. “Language and being focused on the elder vs. the disease, makes a difference.  At The Green House Cottages of Carmel, we developed our policies and procedures prior to these new regulations, and it felt great to see that what we knew in our hearts to be right, was reflected in government mandates.” said Melody DeCollo, Guide of  The Green House homes of Carmel, in Indiana.

The Green House Project invited, Carmen Bowman, a nationally recognized expert in all things regulatory and culture change to facilitate two webinars exclusively for The Green House Peer Network about the new CMS regulations. In these webinars, Carmen highlighted where, specifically, the new regulations support The Green House Core Values, and how Green House adopters can leverage them to even more fully realize the benefits of the model.  Says Carmen, “There is power in the institution to shut people down, and there is power in the home to bring people back to life.”

There were many areas to highlight, but here are a few of the hot topics:

Language – Words Matter! Where are the opportunities for Green House adopters to utilize language that is more person-centered and less institutional?

  • Community (or home) vs Facility
  • Individual vs Resident/Patient
  • Real Home vs Homelike
  • Meaningful Engagement vs Activities
  • Approaches vs Interventions

Proactive Approach- How can we learn to be ‘preventionists’ and align with an elder’s natural rhythms, patterns and preferences to meet their needs before an issue escalates?

Daily Community Meetings – How does The Green House model support teams to approach issues in real time to emulate the concept of daily community meetings? Where are the opportunities to involve/engage elders in decision making

Care Planning – What are Green House adopters doing to ensure Shahbazim (direct care staff), elder, and family voices are heard in care plan meetings? How can we intentionally gain the rich information that yields deep, knowing relationships?

Highest practicable level of well-being – By intentionally focusing on the physical, social and mental wellness of the person, it expands and elevates the experience. What do individuals need to thrive?

Creating Real Home and Personal Belongings – “We really want to know who you are, so please bring in things that are special to you to decorate our home”.  WHO is doing WHAT to ensure elder’s personal belongings are brought into the home/their room?

Meaningful Engagements – Take a moment and consider, is it real life, or fake life? Break apart the word to understand… What is meaningful? What is engaging?  People want to make a difference, how can we support people to live lives of purpose?

Food and Nutrition – What are Green House homes doing that showcase the power of deep knowing that supports individual preferences?  What can we do to expand ‘choice’ and offer it around the clock.

These new regulations were created in response to person-directed care, that means that our work to change the culture of aging is making a difference! We need to keep telling our stories, and letting the world know that aging and long term care can be different. We want to hear from you! If these new regulations are supporting you to shine—email us at inquiries@thegreenhouseproject.org.


A Grandaughter’s Externship Provides Insight into The Green House Model

By / Posted on April 5th, 2017

Breanna with her grandparents, Twylah and David Haun

The Green House model has added passion and purpose to my family in many ways. My grandparents, David and Twylah Haun, are Independent Living residents at John Knox Village (JKV) and they were instrumental in bringing The Green House model to their community. We have had many great conversations about the model’s potential over the years, and it has become close to my heart as well. Currently, I am pursuing my doctorate in Occupational Therapy at the University of Southern California (USC). When a professor challenged us to seek out opportunities and learn what it means to be a leader in healthcare, I immediately thought of my grandparents. This led to an exciting externship at The Woodlands at JKV. Before I stepped foot on the grounds at JKV, I was already destined to have valuable experiences simply based on the leadership skills I could learn from my grandparents.

John Knox Village, Pompano Beach, FL

I can still remember back in 2011 when bringing The Green House model to JKV became the main topic of our Thanksgiving meal ; My grandmother was interested and my grandfather was doubtful. Never ones to be easily convinced or to skimp on their research, they decided to take a road trip to eight different Green House homes to see this model in action. After visiting four homes, Grandfather was sold on the idea and came home to put their research into action. In the years since this initial exploratory trip, my grandparents have stayed very involved in The Green House initiative at JKV and also at a national level. They have spoken at the national Green House Meeting, contributed to The Green House blog, and helped with every aspect of creating and opening The Woodlands at JKV (including selecting paintings for the walls and dishes for the dining rooms, pictured right). Grandma has continued her active role in The Green House homes by becoming a Sage, a volunteer role that allows her to mentor and support the self managed work team to become a cohesive team and help create a real home for and with the elders.

In my program, we were discussing different models of care, and my professor brought up The Green House Project. It was something USC knew little about, but were excited to see how it could change the future. I was thrilled to be able to share my grandparents’ experiences with my 150 classmates and professors. I couldn’t wait to see the model in action! The Woodlands at JKV represents the first Green House homes in Florida, and they also offer homes dedicated to short term rehabilitation. Providing meaningful therapy in a natural environment is the ideal for an occupational therapist, and an exciting reality in the Green House homes.

I spent my externship running from meeting to meeting, soaking up as many experiences as possible, and asking questions about everything. From the staff in the homes to the people working across the whole community, I was continually impressed by the way they put the needs of the elder first, and balanced that with the success of the organization.

Some of my most meaningful interactions occurred with the elders, sharing stories of joy, belonging, and feeling safe in The Green House homes. In the end, this is why we do what we do, and it filled my heart with pride to be able to see this vision that my grandparents helped to carry forward, being lived out in such a beautiful way.

My time at JKV was a wonderful learning experience, and one that I will never forget. The Green House model is truly making a difference in the lives of the elders and those who are passionate about working with them. As a leader and therapist, I know that one of the greatest gifts I can give a client is to remind them that they are a unique individual who matters. From talking to the elders and listening to their stories, watching the direct care staff prepare meals in their home, participating in leadership meetings, and delivering mail to the homes with my grandmother, every experience taught me something valuable, and I am incredibly grateful.


The Visionary Leadership Behind the First PACE Green House homes

By / Posted on March 30th, 2017

Green House homes are dynamic and able to impact innovation in many different settings.  The first Green House homes to be incorporated with a PACE community have opened as part of The Thome Rivertown Neighborhood in Detroit.  It is an honor to be able to open the doors of accessibility for low income elders through this partnership. 

PACE is the acronym of the Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly.  PACE programs are government-funded managed care health plans that also provide comprehensive health services for individuals age 55 and over who have health needs classified as “nursing home eligible” by their state’s Medicaid program.  The goal is to keep chronically ill elders independent for as long as possible –preventing avoidable  hospitalizations, emergency visits and stays in nursing homes.

Roger Myers is CEO of Presbyterian Villages of Michigan, and Mary Naber is President/CEO of PACE Southeast Michigan.  They are the leaders behind this innovation, and hold the belief in this partnership to evolve the healthcare system.  “This is the future.  Health is about more than medical care.  To meet the needs of elders, the focus must be holistic, accessible and home based,” Naber says.

The goal of PACE is to keep people as independent as possible and to avoid nursing home stays.  Despite that, nationally 7% of PACE participants still end up spending some time in long term care, according to Naber, “less because of a need for skilled care, and more because they are not safe to stay in their homes.”

“As we know, even the best traditional nursing home does not provide the greatest living experience, and now, for at least 21 people, The Rivertown Neighborhood is able to offer an alternative.  The Weinberg Green House homes meet their needs, support them to thrive and enable them to remain in the community,” says Naber.  “It’s very gratifying to be able to offer this option.  I wish I had 10 Green House homes for people!”

The Green House homes are licensed as Homes for the Aged, a distinction that provides flexibility and enables elders with a high level of need to live in the least restrictive environment possible.   As it happens, many of the people living in these homes have moved there from nursing homes.  The PACE program provides a “wrap-around” so that elders receive all the services they need, enabling The Green House home will be their home for life.

“The great thing about the co-location of the Weinberg Green House homes to the PACE center is that the elders receive all the same benefits as if they were living in their own homes, which they are- Green House homes.  Being right on the PACE campus will keep elders more mobile and socially engaged.  It will also help PACE clinicians stay in touch, and we know that frequent interactions can help prevent ER visits and other medical concerns.” explains Myers.

“Health is not just about medical care, especially when you’re dealing with chronic illness,” declares Naber.  By leveraging an interdisciplinary team rather than the typical doctor-driven model, the team at the Weinberg Green Houses are able to care for the WHOLE person: body, mind and spirit.

PACE Southeast Michigan is a 501c3 not-for profit government funded unique health plan and comprehensive care provider.   It is a jointly owned by Henry Ford Health System, one of the early PACE innovators, and Presbyterian Villages of Michigan.

The Thome Rivertown Neighborhood includes Independent Living, Assisted Living, the PACE Center and now The Green House homes.  Not everyone who lives on the campus is a part of PACE, but it is built as a continuum to enable low income and highly frail people to stay in their community as their health status changes.

Integrating residential living with PACE is proving to be an effective development that will hopefully spread throughout the country.  PVM led the development effort for this supportive neighborhood during the recession, and the idea was so compelling that they were able to achieve their goals.  A $2 million grant from the Baltimore-based Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation provided much of the support to make their vision to add Green House homes to the community a reality.

 

 


A Sage’s Testimonial of Short Stay Rehabilitation in a Green House home

By / Posted on March 29th, 2017

For the last few years, I have served as a Sage (volunteer who supports and advises the self managed work team) at The Green House homes of Mirasol.  Recently, my role was reversed, when I moved in to recover after an extremely taxing and debilitating surgery.  These homes are listed as 5 Star by Medicare and Medicaid, a wonderful professional endorsement.  I can tell you, however, that the essence of what I experienced, goes far beyond that checklist, and their stellar outcomes reflect something much deeper and more comprehensive.

The Green House homes were the only attractive option for rehab within 20 minutes from my home.  Because I know how popular The Green House homes are, I was worried that there would not be space for me.  I was delighted to be able recover in a Real Home. I knew that being a volunteer would be very different from being a guest in the community, but I couldn’t have predicted how impressed I would be, or the gratitude I would feel.

The Green House team ensured that the process was smooth and dignified from the very beginning.  They managed all the hospital paperwork, follow-up appointments and coordination, which in my mind already goes leagues above 5 stars!  The driver’s vehicle enabled me to sit comfortably up front, and he even offered me clip-on sunglasses, my choice of music and a warm blanket (an important touch on a freezing Colorado day).  We quickly fell into a comfortable chat and discovered many things that we had in common.

When I arrived, I was greeted warmly, like a long-lost, favorite uncle!  The Shahbazim (direct care staff) offered me the choice of going to my room for a rest, or staying at the table for a meal.  Having already having discovered my dietary preferences, they offered to make something special, just for me.  The whole home smelled scrumptious when I came in the front door! Just being there made me feel better, and I had a renewed appreciation for the airiness of the dining area, the good smells of the kitchen, and the warm, inviting fireplace area.

We went to my room – private room with private bathroom, thank goodness.  As I was oriented, I was reminded that no room is more than six doors from the hearth, and this was confirmed the next morning by the aroma of breakfast wafting into my bedroom.  How refreshing to recover without the long and disorienting corridors lined with carts of stale food or unmentionables waiting to be taken out back.  At no stage
was I “parked” anywhere in the house, as I have seen in other nursing homes, left alone to wait.  To be treated like a person, rather than an object; what this did for my well-being, I can’t begin to measure.

Dinner was a very communal event, and I felt very welcomed by my fellow elders at the table.  Some required help with eating, which the Shahbazim did casually and warmly with considerable skill and NO DEMEANING BIBS.  It immediately felt like the elders were interested in me as a fellow member of the house and its extended family of elders, staff and family members. The feeling of family was beautifully illustrated, as one elder spontaneously went over to another elder, who seemed unhappy, and simply gave him a hug.  It was then that I was brought to tears, so moved by the atmosphere of support and caring. The elders are empowered to care and support each other, creating a community of reciprocity, where everyone has something to offer.

The hearth in the center of the house is a place where elders and Shahbazim could naturally get to know each other more deeply, creating mutually supportive relationships as our stories are shared. What a realization to know that the more deeply we know each other, the more we are valued.  These relationships enable the elders and Shahbazim to go beyond medical needs, and become connected, helping each other to live the best life possible.

The staff appeared to be encouraged to stop over each day and chat for a while just to get to know me better.  I felt understood, and like the things that were important to me, were important to them.  If I had a visitor (like my wife of 51 years) or was engaged elsewhere, my nurse would ask if I would prefer she come back later. She put me in the driver seat of my care, and made me feel like she honored my privacy and dignity. The Shahbazim seemed to anticipate my needs, incorporating what they learned about me from our conversations, and providing personalized care that went well beyond my physical needs.  Team members would stop by at the end of their shift to just chat about their plans for the rest of the day, to ask advice, or to ask me about my life stories.  This genuine caring, was something that I hadn’t experienced in other nursing home/rehab settings, and it was so gratifying and replenishing.  To be known and truly valued, this is better than the best medicine.

What a phenomenal rehabilitation experience, delivered by wonderful people who love their
job, love the people they work with and the elders they serve.  The Green House homes provide opportunities for these open-hearted people to grow and develop their already extraordinary gifts.  I am honored to be able to share my experience as a testimonial to others who are seeking a place where they can recover, not only physically, but holistically.  It is because of this experience that I healed so rapidly, with caring and the preservation of my dignity.

Learn more about The Green House homes at Mirasol>>

 


Green House Team Members Move “Heaven and Earth” for Patrick to Attend White House Reception

By / Posted on March 20th, 2017

Patrick O’Brian lives with ALS at Leonard Florence Center for Living, a Green House Project in Chelsea, Massachusetts.  His father, Mayor Kennedy O’Brian of Sayreville, NJ,was invited to the White House St. Patrick’s Day Reception, and he knew he had to find a way to bring his son.  Patrick’s dad said that the team from Leonard Florence Center (LFCL) moved “heaven and earth” to get his son to the event.   Patrick was able to shake the President’s hand and meet the Irish Prime Minister…It was certainly a once in a lifetime experience.

LFCL has a long history of connecting people to meaning and adventure. From trips to Cape Cod and Disney World, to sky diving, this organization believes that well-being is about a lot more than physical health.

Beyond this exciting event, Patrick O’Brian is a filmmaker.   He was honored in 2015 at the Tribeca Film festival for, Transfatty Lives, a piece that he created with eye gaze technology, while living at LFCL.

We celebrate Green House homes who are pushing the envelope everyday to ensure people live full and meaningful lives, from simple pleasures like getting a cup of coffee just the right way, to traveling 12 hours with a full medical team and meeting the President.  “I’m just a proud father and a grateful father,” Kennedy O’Brian said.

 

 

 

 


Ave Maria Home Receives Grant to Build Safe Havens for Victims of Abuse

By / Posted on March 6th, 2017

Acting on a strong mission to serve elders in need, Ave Maria home, in Bartlett, TN is embarking on Phase II of their Green House journey.  They are currently building five 12-bed Green House homes that will join four Green Houses built six years ago.  The new homes have a special purpose, to serve as a safe haven for elders who have experienced abuse.

To support this worthy endeavor, The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Inc. has awarded them a grant of $500,000.  Ave Maria CEO, Frank Gattuso, states “It’s exciting to have a national foundation’s involvement in recognizing the importance of care for our elders.  The Weinberg Foundation is committed to assisting elders through post-acute care and culture change in our community with these Green House homes.”

Maureen Conley, family member of one of the Ave Maria residents.

The Green House model has within it, the power to impact those who live and work there.  The comprehensive transformation of environment, philosophy, and organizational redesign creates an interelated web that supports people to flourish.  Ave Maria home is a leader in Tennessee elder care, and we are so proud to be a part of their innovative and compassionate work.

The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Inc. are integral partners.  Susan Ryan, Senior Director of The Green House Project shares, “Since 2013, the reach of The Green House Project has been expanded through the generous support of The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation. Their involvement enables the Green House® Project to make an even greater impact, bringing a highly and more personalized standard of care to elders in every community.   These funds have furthered innovation in the field and are vital to extend truly excellent, affordable long term care to all people regardless of acuity level or ability to pay.”

Congratulations to Ave Maria Home, on this truly important work, and the national recognition and support

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