AARP Features Bill Thomas as Influential Person Over 50

By / Posted on December 10th, 2012

Make sure you get a copy of the December issue of The Magazine from AARP to see Dr. Bill Thomas recognized as one of the most influential people in America over 50 who are “Changing Our Views on Aging”.

Congratulations Bill! We’re so happy you’re “old” enough to receive this distinguished recognition from AARP.


British Parliament Takes a Look at The Green House Project

By / Posted on January 17th, 2012

From the ChangingAging Blogstream

The Green House Project isn’t just making waves in the U.S. The model’s innovative transformation of nursing home care was the the subject of a British Parliamentary hearing this week on the future of caregiving in the UK.

A British researcher who recently visited the United States testified before the Parliament Health Committee Tuesday, Jan. 10, that Britain should look at the Green House model as the future of nursing home care.

Dr. James Mumford, a senior researcher for the Centre for Social Justice, told Parliament that it was “absolutely vital that we dream a different future for residential care, particularly nursing care,” and “The Green House model presents a new way of doing that.” The Centre for Social Justice is a British think tank focused on finding effective solutions to poverty and Mumford leads research focused on low-income older adults in the UK.

“The (Green House) model was invented by Dr Bill Thomas but it is not just a brainchild; it actually exists. There are 127 Green Houses in the U.S. with 250 in development,” Mumford said.

In Britain, policymakers are currently too focused on delivering services that help elders remain in their homes longer, Mumford said. He warned that the growing population of adults with dementia and other chronic conditions means the need for nursing homes (which the British call “care homes”) is not going away and such settings need to be reformed.

The committee called on Mumford to report findings of his visit to the U.S., including a tour of Green House homes at The Eddy in Albany, N.Y. Mumford testified that the key innovations in the Green House model are achieved through reforms in design and staff ethos:

These Green Houses are self-contained buildings for nine to 12 people with about two staff members looking after each home. Their kitchen is not downstairs or siphoned off but is actually at the heart of the home. There are no clinical corridors and the rooms are off the central area.

The design is half of it. The second half of the innovation is around the staffing ethos. Basically, by cutting out middle management, the key thought is this: the staff in the care home context are bigger than the roles that they have.

By empowering the staff to actually take responsibility for the way that that particular Green House is run, and by also allowing them to take charge of cooking the meals and doing the laundry, you make huge staffing efficiencies, so that there is not actually any more hour per resident in terms of the staff labour cost, but it is for the same cost.

“They have seen extraordinary results from what they have achieved because of these two dramatic innovations at the heart of this new form of care,” Mumford testified. “As I said, this is not just a bright idea, it is being backed and rolled out across the US.”

Watch the full Parliament hearing here (Mumford’s Green House testimony begins 28 minutes into the hearing):

You can read the full transcript of Mumford’s testimony after the jump.

(more…)


Green House Living in Wyoming Prepares To Welcome Elders

By / Posted on January 5th, 2012

Green House Living for Sheridan

The nation’s first grassroots-organized Green House Project homes will open their doors to welcome elders on January 31st in Sheridan, Wyoming.

Nearly five years in the making, Green House Living in Sheridan has completed construction on two of four planned Green House cottages at the newly created Village at Cloud Peak Ranch. Two more cottages will be completed by mid-February, serving a total of 48 elders, and a grand opening celebration is scheduled for March.

Green House Living in Sheridan President Doug Osborn shared the news Dec. 30 and said the community-based initiative would not have been possible without support from volunteers and contributors from every level of local government and walk of life.

“The Scott Cottage, the Watt Cottage, the Whitney Cottage, the Founders Cottage… will introduce this change in nursing home care to the state of Wyoming and help other communities as they consider providing the kind of care and fulfilling lives our elders deserve,” Osborn said.

Green House Living in Sheridan will provide 24/7 skilled nursing care but it is not a nursing home or assisted living facility. Elders have their own private room with bathroom and shower, and each cottage has a spa room near the kitchen. Up to 12 elders share a cottage and a central living and dining area. Each cottage has a household team of Shahbazim who care for, cook for and eat with the elders.

“We have a table where everyone sits together and experiences what we call convivium, which is the experience of eating together, just like in a real home,” said Green House Living administrator Chris Szymanski in an interview with Sheridan Media posted online here.

What really sets the model apart is the philosophy and organizational structure. The Shahbazim and all medical and support staff are trained in a circular organizational structure centered around the elders, creating an environment for them to grow and thrive, like in a “green house.”

The model is designed to transform the experience for both the elders and the staff. Sheridan just completed the first round of training Shahbazim for the Scott and Watt cottages and will begin training the second round later this month.

“Especially gratifying is watching our new employees in training, wrapping their minds and souls around the concepts and methods which define the Green House model,” Osborn said.

Visit SheridanGreenHouse.org for more information, photos and updates on Wyoming’s first Green House Project.

 

 


The Green House Workforce Model

By / Posted on October 26th, 2011

Betsy Mullen is the Guide at Leonard Florence Center for Living

Members of the newly opened Leonard Florence Center for Living in Chelsea, Mass. — the nation’s first urban Green House Project — joined the Green House team for a panel discussion at the 2011 LeadingAge conference in Washington, D.C., Oct. 17.

The topic of the discussion was the innovative workforce model pioneered by the Green House. In Green House homes, the focus of staffing is shifted away from administrative roles towards direct care of elders. Each Green House Project has a clinical support team, which includes nurses, therapists, social services, activities, and dietary professionals, working in partnership with the Shahbazim (universal workers who replace traditional CNA’s) to develop and implement individualized care plans for the elders. (more…)


St. John's Green House Project Brings Elders Back To Their Communities

By / Posted on October 5th, 2011

On the heels of opening the 100th Green House Project home in the nation, we’re getting ready to celebrate another landmark — St. John’s Home Green House Project in New York will be the first in the nation to bring elders back to their hometowns to live in homes throughout the greater Rochester community.

St. John’s will open it’s first two Green House Project homes this fall in the community of Penfield followed by additional homes throughout the community. Elders from Penfield currently living in St. John’s Home will have the opportunity to move back to their hometown to be near family, friends, their church congregation and take advantage of other community resources.

The Penfield Green House homes are located about 10 miles from St. John’s Home main campus in Rochester. They will be the first decentralized Green House homes to open. Other notable community-based Green House Projects are in development in Sheridan, Wyo. , and Baltimore (see also Wyoming Launches First Community-Driven Green House Project Eldercare Homes and Get Excited For Maryland’s First Green House Project).

“Anyone who needs nursing home services will have the opportunity to live in a home environment,” Green House Project Guide Rebecca Priest told Rochester’s Channel 13 ABC News. “Whether you have dementia or any type of need as you age you should have the opportunity to stay in your community and this is the first time in the U.S. we’re making it possible to do so.”

Channel 13 aired a three-part series on St. John’s Green House homes this week. Click here to learn more about St. John’s Green House homes.




St. John’s Green House Project Brings Elders Back To Their Communities

By / Posted on October 5th, 2011

On the heels of opening the 100th Green House Project home in the nation, we’re getting ready to celebrate another landmark — St. John’s Home Green House Project in New York will be the first in the nation to bring elders back to their hometowns to live in homes throughout the greater Rochester community.

St. John’s will open it’s first two Green House Project homes this fall in the community of Penfield followed by additional homes throughout the community. Elders from Penfield currently living in St. John’s Home will have the opportunity to move back to their hometown to be near family, friends, their church congregation and take advantage of other community resources.

The Penfield Green House homes are located about 10 miles from St. John’s Home main campus in Rochester. They will be the first decentralized Green House homes to open. Other notable community-based Green House Projects are in development in Sheridan, Wyo. , and Baltimore (see also Wyoming Launches First Community-Driven Green House Project Eldercare Homes and Get Excited For Maryland’s First Green House Project).

“Anyone who needs nursing home services will have the opportunity to live in a home environment,” Green House Project Guide Rebecca Priest told Rochester’s Channel 13 ABC News. “Whether you have dementia or any type of need as you age you should have the opportunity to stay in your community and this is the first time in the U.S. we’re making it possible to do so.”

Channel 13 aired a three-part series on St. John’s Green House homes this week. Click here to learn more about St. John’s Green House homes.




Compassion — A Key Ingredient To a Vibrant Green House Home

By / Posted on September 13th, 2011

All people are surrounded by a circle of compassion that defines their relationships with those around them, said Green House Project founder Dr. Bill Thomas in opening remarks at the fourth annual Green House Project Meeting and Celebration in Birmingham, Ala.

And the key ingredient to building a happy and vibrant Green House home is the ability of those in it to significantly grow their personal circle of compassion, Dr. Thomas said.

How big is your circle of compassion? In the video below, Dr. Thomas challenges participants in the Green House Project meeting to examine how willing they are to welcome all people into their circles of compassion.

Compassion — A Key Ingredient To a Vibrant Green House Home from The Green House Project on Vimeo.


The Green House Project Meeting ‘State of the State’

By / Posted on September 8th, 2011

Welcome to Birmingham

Lela Holmes, The Cottages at St. Martin's in the Pines

One of several big announcements from the first day of The Green House Project fourth annual meeting and celebration in Birmingham, Ala., is the upcoming publication this September of a major report on the financial and clinical outcomes from the Green House model.

In a presentation on the “State of the State of the Green House Project,” the organization’s director, Robert Jenkens, said the cumulative research answers the three major questions that always come up when people first hear about The Green House model:

  • Do the elders family and staff really like the Green House better?
  • If it’s really home, can the clinical care really be as good?
  • If it really is better, doesn’t it have to cost more?

The report analyses the findings of five major studies and is due out this month in NIC’s Seniors Housing and Care Journal, the leading journal reporting on the business and finance of long term care. It concludes that the Green House model operating costs are equal to or lower than traditional nursing homes and it produces better clinical outcomes and satisfaction. In addition, initial development costs of starting a Green House Project are at the low end of comparable culture change models and significant revenue increases are generated through higher occupancy rates and private pay days.

“This validates that in practice the model holds true to founder Dr. Bill Thomas’ theory and vision,” said Jenkens. “‘Yes’, satisfaction is higher in the Green House model; ‘Yes,’ clinical care is as good or better. And ‘yes,’ the Green House model provides better care and satisfaction without increasing operating costs.”

The studies report the average cost range per resident day in a Green House home is the same as in a traditional nursing home — $150-250. But the biggest finding is that Green House provides on average 28 minutes more direct care and four times more meaningful engagement than institutional models of care — all without increasing overall staff time.

Several Green House model adopters attending the conference can attest to these findings. Like many adopters, conference host St. Martins in the Pines in Birmingham also operates a traditional, large-scale nursing home and can directly compare financial and satisfaction outcomes with its Green House Cottages.

“We closely monitor the cost between our Green House homes and the legacy nursing home and what we hoped would happen has happened,” St. Martins President Terry Rogers said. “There is no additional cost in operating a Green House. But more important we are generating much higher satisfaction results across the board.”

The elders report much higher satisfaction in their living environment and their families are much more satisfied in their loved one’s care, Rogers said. St. Martin’s also reports dramatic reductions in staff turnover, which research has found to be a major benefit in the Green House model. Turnover in frontline staff in the St. Martin’s Green Houses is less than 10 percent. In their legacy traditional facility current turnover is 70 percent but has been as high as 100 percent turnover in a year, Rogers said.

High turnover is costly to employers — some estimates place cost at $5,000 per employee — and strongly correlates with low job satisfaction. Higher job retention can translate to more consistent and better care, which again translates to better elder satisfaction.

Better elder satisfaction can impact the bottom line in higher bed occupancy and private pay occupancy. The Green House model reports 95 percent or higher occupancy rates compared to 88 percent industry-wide with much of that increase in private pay days. In a 100-bed facility, these two impacts translate into an additional $529,980 in revenue each year.

Inside and outside the long term care industry these findings are turning heads, Jenkens said.

“It’s been very exciting in the past year to see in outpouring of interest from organizations all around the country who want to begin the financial analysis and exploration to launch a Green House Project home,” he said.

 


The Green House Project Meeting 'State of the State'

By / Posted on September 8th, 2011

Welcome to Birmingham

Lela Holmes, The Cottages at St. Martin's in the Pines

One of several big announcements from the first day of The Green House Project fourth annual meeting and celebration in Birmingham, Ala., is the upcoming publication this September of a major report on the financial and clinical outcomes from the Green House model.

In a presentation on the “State of the State of the Green House Project,” the organization’s director, Robert Jenkens, said the cumulative research answers the three major questions that always come up when people first hear about The Green House model:

  • Do the elders family and staff really like the Green House better?
  • If it’s really home, can the clinical care really be as good?
  • If it really is better, doesn’t it have to cost more?

The report analyses the findings of five major studies and is due out this month in NIC’s Seniors Housing and Care Journal, the leading journal reporting on the business and finance of long term care. It concludes that the Green House model operating costs are equal to or lower than traditional nursing homes and it produces better clinical outcomes and satisfaction. In addition, initial development costs of starting a Green House Project are at the low end of comparable culture change models and significant revenue increases are generated through higher occupancy rates and private pay days.

“This validates that in practice the model holds true to founder Dr. Bill Thomas’ theory and vision,” said Jenkens. “‘Yes’, satisfaction is higher in the Green House model; ‘Yes,’ clinical care is as good or better. And ‘yes,’ the Green House model provides better care and satisfaction without increasing operating costs.”

The studies report the average cost range per resident day in a Green House home is the same as in a traditional nursing home — $150-250. But the biggest finding is that Green House provides on average 28 minutes more direct care and four times more meaningful engagement than institutional models of care — all without increasing overall staff time.

Several Green House model adopters attending the conference can attest to these findings. Like many adopters, conference host St. Martins in the Pines in Birmingham also operates a traditional, large-scale nursing home and can directly compare financial and satisfaction outcomes with its Green House Cottages.

“We closely monitor the cost between our Green House homes and the legacy nursing home and what we hoped would happen has happened,” St. Martins President Terry Rogers said. “There is no additional cost in operating a Green House. But more important we are generating much higher satisfaction results across the board.”

The elders report much higher satisfaction in their living environment and their families are much more satisfied in their loved one’s care, Rogers said. St. Martin’s also reports dramatic reductions in staff turnover, which research has found to be a major benefit in the Green House model. Turnover in frontline staff in the St. Martin’s Green Houses is less than 10 percent. In their legacy traditional facility current turnover is 70 percent but has been as high as 100 percent turnover in a year, Rogers said.

High turnover is costly to employers — some estimates place cost at $5,000 per employee — and strongly correlates with low job satisfaction. Higher job retention can translate to more consistent and better care, which again translates to better elder satisfaction.

Better elder satisfaction can impact the bottom line in higher bed occupancy and private pay occupancy. The Green House model reports 95 percent or higher occupancy rates compared to 88 percent industry-wide with much of that increase in private pay days. In a 100-bed facility, these two impacts translate into an additional $529,980 in revenue each year.

Inside and outside the long term care industry these findings are turning heads, Jenkens said.

“It’s been very exciting in the past year to see in outpouring of interest from organizations all around the country who want to begin the financial analysis and exploration to launch a Green House Project home,” he said.

 


Dr. Bill Thomas: Introducing Eldertopia

By / Posted on August 9th, 2011

From the ChangingAging Blogstream:

What we need is a radical reinterpretation of longevity that makes elders (and their needs) central to our collective pursuit of happiness and well-being. We have no word that describes the value of intergenerational interdependence, of living in a multigenerational society, of protective social structures and rituals. Because such a word would be useful, I coined the term “Eldertopia.”

So begins the latest must-read manifesto on positive aging by Eden Alternative and Green House Project founder Dr. Bill Thomas in the latest issue of The Journal AARP International.

The feature article by Dr. Thoms begins by exploring the post-war generation’s growing awareness of aging and their inability to accept it. Bombarded by anti-aging messages in a mediascape that insistently proclaims young is better than old and adulthood can last forever, aging baby boomers have become conditioned to reject aging and view it through the narrow lens of decline.

The reality, says Dr. Thomas, is adulthood doesn’t last forever and the 78 million people who make up the post war generation must come to terms with the fact that they already are no longer young.

If you are taking time to read this article, the odds are that you are no longer young.  No one wants to acknowledge the passing of youth, and it is human nature to want to look our best. More to the point, we live in an ageist society, and smart people know how important it is to obscure the signs of aging skin whenever possible. What I am proposing here goes much deeper than the merely cosmetic.

You must have an intensely personal and private conversation with your own true, aging, self. The time has come to look into the mirror and, finally, make peace with the changes you see on your face and feel in your mind and body. You are not the person you were when you were 20 years old. You are not the person you were 20 years ago. The fact is that those people vanished a long time ago.

The path to personal happiness and fulfillment I am offering to you has just two steps:

1. Stop pining for what is already gone.

2. Start searching for the person you are meant to become.

Relinquishing one’s claim on youth is a necessary precondition for exploring life beyond adulthood, Dr. Thomas argues. American society’s next great cultural challenge will revolve around the definition of and worth assigned to aging and elderhood. Dr. Thomas envisions an old age that ripples with beauty, worth, and meaning. But to realize that vision will require a new understanding of the structure and function of human elderhood.

Because our language doesn’t have a word that describes elderhood, the value of intergenerational dependence and the role elders play in trasmitting culture across the generations, Dr. Thomas coined the phrase “Eldertopia.”

Eldertopia / ell-der-TOE-pee-uh / noun: A community that improves the quality of life for people of all ages by strengthening and improving the means by which (1) the community protects, sustains, and nurtures its elders, and (2) the elders contribute to the well-being and foresight of the community. An Eldertopia that is blessed with a large number of older people is acknowledged to be “elder-rich” and uses this wealth to advance the good of all.

Dr. Thomas proposes that the concept of Eldertopia can help the post war generation bridge the gap to a life beyond adulthood full of rich experiences and insights that are unavailable to adults and children. Elders, he argues, possess novel ways of approaching time, money, faith, childhood, and relationships and are capable of uniting us all with our shared past and future.

Furthermore, the extraordinary task of returning adulthood to its proper boundaries will require the emergence of a new generation of elders and the construction of a cultural bridge that connects them to society at large.   This will be the postwar generation’s last chance to right the wrongs that its unyielding embrace of adulthood have inflicted on our society and culture.

In short, we need elders like we never have before, Dr. Thomas says. If you agree, continue reading the full article here.