By Rachel Scher McLean / Posted on November 30th, 2016
The energy is always electric when Green House adopters are together. “As a national initiative, amazing things happen when so many changemakers are in the same room,” shares Senior Director, Susan Ryan, “The opportunity for rich discussion, relationship building and thoughtful questions is irreplaceable. ” That was certainly the case as over 250 Green House adopters gathered at The 2016 Green House Annual Meeting—Beyond Better.
Hosted in New Jersey, attendees were able to visit two open Green House homes, Morris Hall Meadows and Green Hill. Representing 30 states and over 200 open homes, the growing Peer Network is one of the greatest values of participating in this initiative. Green House stakeholder, John Grace, said, “It was nice to attend an intimate gathering where “practical application” is the theme of the day.”
Pre-Conference workshops provided role specific opportunities to explore areas that research proves are vital to the sustainability and success of the model, such as coaching and empowerment. Senior executives joined President of Center for Innovation, Inc., the sponsor of The Green House Project, Scott Townsley, to discuss the strategic trends impacting healthcare, and how The Green House model must continue to evolve in order to lead the way to a better tomorrow.
Marc Middleton, CEO of Growing Bolder, opened the meeting with an inspiring message that what the mind believes, the body embraces, and a call to believe in the potential of elders! This multimedia presentation thoroughly dismantled the myths of aging, and set a tone of possibility for the rest of the meeting.
With breakout sessions focused on key operational topics like convivium, spirituality, team building and hiring, adopters left the conference with a full ‘toolbox’ of new skills and ideas to enhance their homes and organizations. An original spoken word piece, called, “I Am Green House”, brought the crowd to their feet, as a shahbaz, a nurse, a family member and an elder shared what it really means to live this movement everyday.
This year, intensive sessions were offered as opportunities to take a deep dive in areas of dementia, coaching leadership and bringing Green House values into the legacy home. Hot topics, real discussion, and an impetus to keep growing, resonated throughout the conference. The “Inner Circle” was a unique networking space for attendees to meet their peers and help to co-create the future. Reciprocity of active learning and shared experience is making a difference and changing the world.
Sustainability is crucial in the work that we do, and a quality benchmarking resource was presented to attendees with a tangible charge to never stop improving. Exciting results are being discovered as the evidence-base for The Green House model grows.
The conference closed with Ashton Applewhite, anti-ageism advocate and author of This Chair Rocks, an Manifesto Against Ageism, sending a passionate appeal to fight ageism in all its forms. With humor and personal stories, Ashton served as the perfect way to end the conference feeling challenged and inspired.
“THE POWER OF THE MOVEMENT IS YOU!” says, Susan Ryan, to an empowered audience of Green House adopters. The national initiative is able to push the envelope of what is possible because of the innovative and excellent work of Green House adopters and those stakeholders who are changing what it means to age.
Next year marks the 10th Annual Green House Meeting. Held in Florida, with host site, John Knox Village, this meeting continues to grow in meaning and scope, as Green House adopters truly go, Beyond Better!
By Mary Hopfner-Thomas / Posted on November 10th, 2016
An estimated 200 people attended the ceremony November 3rd to officially cut the ribbon on the Sosin Center for Rehabilitation! JGS Lifecare in Longmeadow, MA has been working hard to develop the two Green House homes for short-term rehabilitation which are expected to open in December.
Among those attending included Congressman Richard Neal and Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. A number of JGS board members and staff were also on hand for the celebration.
Each home will provide rehabilitation for 12 people and are the first Green House rehab homes in western Massachusetts. Green House Senior Director, Susan Ryan, congratulated the team at JGS Lifecare and officially welcomed them to the Green House family.
Read more about the event:
By Andrea Tyck / Posted on February 25th, 2016
Andrea Tyck is the Wellness Director at Mt San Antonio Gardens, a Life Care Community in Pomona, California. She is also a Green House Educator and helped to open the first Green House homes in California.
In Jerry Spinelli’s book Hokey Pokey, Hokey Pokey is a place where there are no adults. Kids are in charge and free to roam. The main character, Jack, is the de facto leader and is loving his life until things start to change. A tattoo, present on the bellies of all the inhabitants of Hokey Pokey, begins to fade. When his bike, the symbol of his power and influence is stolen, he oddly begins to adjust to its absence. And what’s worse is that his enduring disdain for girls and a girl named Jubilee, in particular, is beginning to lose its grip. She might even become a friend. In addition Jack begins to sense that he is going to be leaving Hokey Pokey although he doesn’t know why or how. Jack tells Jubilee he thinks he is leaving that night. When she asks “How do you know?” he replies “I don’t. It’s like” – he stares up into her eyes – “I’m on a bike I can’t steer, can’t stop.” “So….,” she says, “Where to?” He hangs full weight from her eyes. “Beats me.”
The book cover explains that it is “a timeless tale of growing up and letting go, of reverence and remembrance of that moment in childhood when the world opens up to possibilities never before imagined.” Ever since I read it I have been thinking of how the process of children becoming adults might be similar to the process of adults becoming elders.
Dr. Bill Thomas makes a case that elderhood is a distinct part of human development and that part of the process of that development is leaving adulthood. In very broad terms that means moving from a primary focus on doing and generating to embracing the “being-rich responsibilities of making peace, giving wisdom, and creating a legacy.” In the land of Hokey Pokey, Jack’s transition out of childhood is perceptible but vague. The reader has a sense of what might be happening to Jack (he is growing up) but the steps are still somewhat confounding. Might that be similarly true of one’s growth out of adulthood and development into elderhood? Are there signs that the purposes in your life and the mechanisms by which you enjoy, ponder and resolve things have been transformed? Are there treasured parts of you or your life that you no longer have (like Jack’s bike) that you realize you are ok without?
The book ends with Jack back in the “real world” preparing to redo his bedroom with his dad to make it less childish. There is a sense of hope, that all is right. That the magical world he left behind wistfully has been left for “possibilities never imagined.” Perhaps the journey into elderhood can also be hopeful, that leaving adulthood is as it should be, and that it is , per Dr. Thomas, a “complex ripening, a richness that is unavailable to those who remain in the fevered grip of adulthood.”
By Mary Hopfner-Thomas / Posted on September 12th, 2015
This year marks some major celebrations when you think of programs for Elders in this country. 80 years for Social Security and the Golden Anniversary for the Older Americans Act as well as Medicare and Medicaid.
Medicare was signed into law on July 30, 1965; however it was a much debated piece of legislation in a variety of forms prior to that historic date! In many ways it may remind you of the debate that continues today about health care coverage in our country and how it should be provided.
Medicare has grown into the nation’s largest healthcare program, covering 55 million Americans over the age of 65 and includes people with certain disabilities.
As lifestyle changes and advances in medicine have helped increase our life expectancy, it also has created a financial challenge for Medicare. When the program was first implemented people were living until 70…today you can add another 10 years to that number.
Within 15 years it’s estimated that 76 million additional baby boomers will be eligible for Medicare, however it’s also estimated that there will not be enough people paying into the system to support the current benefits of the program.
It is not a new or surprising issue—we have known that the Baby Boomers would soon be turning 65 in very large numbers—what we did not know was how to begin to find good options that could keep the program in place and honor the true mission of Medicare. With the 50th anniversary this year, there is more discussion around possible options and some are saying the future for the program is beginning to look brighter. Click here to read one example of that optimism.
To mark this milestone occasion, The American Society on Aging (ASA) devoted its Summer 2015 quarterly journal to the topic of Medicare. It explores the past, present and future of this important program. Click here to read more.
By Mary Hopfner-Thomas / Posted on July 29th, 2015
The once a decade White House Conference on Aging, held on July 13th, was truly a “virtual” event! All of the presentations and panels were live streamed—with over 700 “Watch Parties” taking place across the country. Perhaps YOU participated in one. 10,000 Twitter users contributed to the dialogue that day letting the world know their thoughts and reactions to the speakers by using the hashtag #WHCOA.
President Obama spoke during the event noting that one of the best measures of a country is how it treats its older citizens and noted that our country’s greatest triumphs are the Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security programs.
LeadingAge was just one organization which hosted a watch party. They compiled their top 10 highlights from the event:
- A Call for Caregiver Support Systems
- CMS Proposed Rule: Reform of Requirements for Long-Term Care Facilities
- HHS Secretary Announces Funding for Workforce
Click here to read their entire list of highlights and details about each one!
By Meaghan McMahon / Posted on May 8th, 2015
Gerontological Nurse, Green House Guide and RN Supervisor, Ann Wagle, from the VA Illiana Green House homes in Danville, IL will present a poster on “The Role of Nurses in the Green House home” during the NOVA 2015 Annual Meeting this June in Washington D.C. The poster will outline the impact of the Green House model on Veterans, families and staff. It will also describe actions that support and propel cultural transformation within long-term care in the VA system.
In her poster proposal Ann described how Green House homes are currently serving Veterans across the United States and future plans for the Danville campus:
“VA Illiana was the first VA in the nation to adopt the Green House model, although at least five additional VA sites have either opened Green House homes or are under design/construction, including VA’s in Chicago, Milwaukee, Tomah, Tuscaloosa, and Lexington. At VA Illiana, two more Green House homes are currently under construction, and an additional two homes are in the design phase, resulting in a total of 60 beds within the total of 100 long-term care beds at VA Illiana. One of these new Green House homes will include Veterans with short-stay skilled care needs.”
This presentation will be an excellent compliment to the recent THRIVE research results on the role of the nurse in Green House homes that The Green House Project has been sharing with our Peer Network of adopters.
By Meaghan McMahon / Posted on May 7th, 2015
The University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Nursing created the Center for Aging Research and Education (CARE) in response to the rapidly expanding care needs of our aging population. The center works toward transformation by using “…nursing leadership, discovery, education, and practice…” to support happiness, health and security for all older adults.
In a recent online post by the CARE team entitled, “What Makes a Green House Home? How You Decide Matters,” the author considers the persistence and commitment necessary to take the philosophical tenets of culture change and put them into practice.
The post describes how UW-Madison School of Nursing Associate Dean Barb Bowers, PhD, RN, FAAN and research manager Kim Nolet, MS have conducted research that analyzes the “lived experience” that the Green House model now has after more than 10 years as the pinnacle of culture change.
“By interviewing 166 staff members at 11 Green House homes, Bowers and Nolet identified patterns of problem solving as important to the erosion or reinforcement of the Green House model over time.”
The researchers found that along with the architecture of the Green House home, it is collaboration across the organization and between nurses and Shahbazim that allows the significant benefits of this model to be realized.
Both Bowers and Nolet are a part of The Research Initiative Valuing Eldercare (THRIVE). Interested in learning more about the THRIVE initiative? Take a look at this recent blog post which discusses the importance of the soon to be published THRIVE research results.
By Scott Brown / Posted on April 28th, 2015
In his Age of Disruption Tour, Dr. Bill Thomas promises a wide ranging discussion about society’s perspective on aging and what he calls, “life’s most dangerous game.” Nearly 300 people turned out to beautiful Nelson Hall at Elim Park Baptist Home in Cheshire, Connecticut to hear Dr. Thomas, joined by musician Nate Richardson.
As people entered, they were greeted by the sound of drumming and a blackboard with where people completed the phrase “as I age I dare to….” Everyone was encouraged inscribe their “dare” on their own personal shaker, and to contribute their own rhythm to the drumming.
Combining music, story-telling and multi-media, the performance seeks to debunk our pre-occupation and romance with the perfection of youth. As Dr. Thomas, demonstrates with a teenage picture of himself, braces and all, the reality is often not quite as rosy as the ideal. The romantic notion of youth is perpetuated with an anti-aging fantasy, which can be seen in the myriad products and services that claim to reverse the effects of aging.
Dr. Thomas proposes an alternative. Age takes things away, but it also offers new gifts. While today’s society emphasizes the losses, we can choose to see aging rather as the transcendence of youth. As we age what we’re good at changes, and we move beyond the cares and priorities that consumed us when we were younger.
The key for a successful older life is to be able to discover “re-imagination”. Youth is about imagination and possibilities. Then people surrender their many dreams, and narrow their focus. They trade possibility for competence. As they become defined by their competence, they are afraid to try new things because, they’re afraid of looking foolish. In order to age well, we must let go of this fear, and regain some of those dreams, or find new ones.
Re-imagination is about creating opportunities to learn and grow. It’s about giving up competence for possibility. Take risks, because you never know what you might find. And taking these risks is life’s most dangerous game.
By Meaghan McMahon / Posted on April 24th, 2015
“By 2030, twenty percent of our population will be over the age of 65. And by 2050, there will be 27 million people in this country who will need assistance with everyday living. As a nation, we cannot afford to not have a plan for this.”
This is how Ai-jen Poo, director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA), challenged the audience to consider the reality of our Elder Boom during her Age of Dignity book talk last week at the AFL-CIO in Washington, D.C.
According to Ai-jen, one plan that will provide stability and protection for the most vulnerable among us is the creation of a national care grid to increase creative solutions and choices for those in need of long-term care. Some examples of innovative organizations that will make up the fabric of this grid are Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs), Villages and Green House homes.
As co-director of Caring Across Generations , Ai-jen encouraged the audience to recognize the importance of building a national movement to improve care. She explained that we must protect what we have built so far and work together to create what we will need in the future.
By Meaghan McMahon / Posted on March 3rd, 2015
In the latest issue of TIME Magazine, author and director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) Ai-jen Poo, discusses the coming Elder boom and how older adults and their care partners deserve to live with dignity. When asked what exactly is wrong with today’s nursing homes she replies, “There are great nursing homes. The Green House Project is a different kind of model. But those are, I think, more the exception than the rule.”
As Green House adopters across the country work every day to create caring homes for meaningful lives, we must work together to make this model the rule rather than the exception. How do we ensure that Green House homes are available in every community across America? Quite simply we need to make the model an integrated extension of the community itself where Elders and their care partners enjoy a relationship based on the power of interdependence.
“We must take action now to plan for our grandparents’ futures as well as our own futures. When we really examine the scope and scale of the coming elder boom, we won’t have a choice but to make care a priority. Everyone will be touched by this change in the American demographic. We’re going to have to rethink everything- how we live, work, and play, and especially how we organize our family and community life: how we take care of each other across generations.”
Now is the time to come together to make profound and lasting change in the world of long-term services and supports.
Are you ready?
By Meaghan McMahon / Posted on February 25th, 2015
As Elders living in Green House homes age in place it is important that we resist the urge to revert back to institutional practices to solve the obstacles that may be associated with their changing care needs. During a Peer Network webinar last month, adopters had the opportunity to hear Dr. Bill Thomas discuss the topic of increasing acuity of Elders in Green House homes and his recommendations for sustaining the Green House core value of real home.
Participants on the call were asked to think about Florence Nightingale and the new approach and standard of practice that she brought to the existing institutions of her time. Dr. Thomas believes that we are descendants of her philosophy of care and therefore must be prepared to care for Elders in sickness and in health.
A few recommendations he provided during the conversation included:
– Having a clear understanding of the advanced care directives of Elders living in Green House homes and what they want when their health changes acutely. It is important to have these conversations in advance of illness and revisit the topic as needed
– To better understand how quality acute care services are provided in a home, have conversations with the hospice and home care agencies in your community
– Understand from Elders and their loved ones whether they want maximum care or maximum treatment at the end of life. It isn’t possible to provide both simultaneously.
In many institutional long-term care settings a person is placed in the “sick role” and then kept there for the remainder of their life. Green House homes are unique in that they are a place of recovery, rejuvenation and a dedication to the belief that all people have the right to live with dignity, autonomy and purpose until their last breath.
By Meaghan McMahon / Posted on January 29th, 2015
In a blog post earlier this month, Executive Director Nora Super began to outline the goals and events that will occur as a part of the 2015 White House Conference on Aging (WHCOA). The WHCOA happens only once every decade, so you don’t want to miss this opportunity to have your voice heard! The regional forums, announced this month, will provide a venue for the public to discuss issues in the aging field that are most important to them including: retirement security, healthy aging, long-term services and supports, Elder abuse and supporting caregivers.
More specific details of the forums are to follow but the locations and dates are the following:
Tampa, Florida (February 19th)
Phoenix, Arizona (March 31st)
Seattle, Washington (April 9th)
Cleveland, Ohio (April 27th)
Boston, Massachusetts (May 28th)
According to the WHCOA website, “The regional forums are co-sponsored by AARP and being planned in coordination with the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations, a coalition of more than 70 of the nation’s leading organizations serving older Americans. While participation is by invitation, all of the events will be live webcast to engage as many people as possible.”
We encourage all Green House adopters and culture change advocates to engage in the regional forums by watching the webcast and using social media during that day and the weeks leading up to the event. Stay tuned for details and ideas to assist you with that process! In addition, consider having an event at your Green House homes or in your community during the same time that a regional forum is occurring and invite local legislators and press to attend. The more Green House buzz near each regional forum, the more national attention we will receive as others recognize that now is the time to push for radical changes in aging and long-term care!