By Rachel Scher McLean / Posted on July 25th, 2013
Dr. Bill Thomas, the visionary who created The Green House model after realizing that his Harvard medical education didn’t give him the tools to treat loneliness, helplessness and boredom, has spent his life trying to answer the question, “What comes next?” With more than 1 million Americans living in nursing homes that were built in the 1960s and 1970s the time is ripe to consider a “shift from large institutional nursing homes to small and more friendly [homes]”.
This summer, NPR reporter, Ina Jaffe (@InaJaffeNPR), spent some time at The Green House Residences of Stadium Place, the first Green House project in Maryland, which serves predominantly low income elders. During her visit, Ms. Jaffe observed that, “You can hear the sounds and smell the aromas coming from an open kitchen that looks like it belongs in a big suburban house”.
Mealtime in a Green House home is a special time, where you can really feel the deep relationships between the versatile direct care workers and the elders. It is a time to come together as a community. “We cook for them. We do daily activities with them. We spend a lot of quality time with our elders.” says Tumarka Wilson, one of the direct care team members in the home. Ms. Wilson has a base education as a certified nursing assistant and received 128 hours of additional education from The Green House Project to gain the skills she needs to manage The Green House home.
The Green House Project is currently open and operating in 24 states around the country. This fall, when Green House homes open in Florida, half of the country will have an option to bring their elders meaningful life and real home while receiving long term care in a Green House Home. With cost neutral operations, this model has the potential to spread quickly, and will eventually be an option in every community.