Keep it Simple: How We’ll Take Aged Care Challenges

By / Posted on December 22nd, 2017

Evermore Founder Sara McKee writes about what she learned at the recent Green House conference about how we can tackle aged care challenges by keeping it simple, and the importance of celebrating differences. (Reposted from Evermore Blog)

I recently attended the annual Green House  conference in Fort Lauderdale. It was fantastic to be in a T-shirt in November – having left rather chillier conditions back in Manchester.  It was also great to be with hundreds of believers from across America who are delivering a better way of living in older age, every day.

I was the only English person at the conference alongside fellow international explorers from Panama, Brazil, Bermuda, Israel and Singapore. However, if you take the vast expanse that is the United States, then it felt truly multicultural with folks from Alaska to Colorado, Pittsburgh and Arkansas.

Whilst the language of the conference was English, this multicultural dimension made us all recognise our differences in culture, approach and, indeed, language. We may all be speaking the same words, but do we really understand each other’s meaning?

James Wright delivered a challenging keynote on diversity and inclusion, highlighting our scientifically proven hidden biases. He explained how we operate on an unconscious level which makes us have implicit preferences.  A book he referenced about the topic is ‘The Hidden Brain’ and I’m going to read it to find out more.

One example he gave was how we make assumptions based on accent. He said that coming from South Carolina, he’d trained out his southern drawl as that made him sound stupid in the eyes/ears of others. Good News for me was that he said the English accent was universally seen as the smartest sound!

He was keen to point out that it doesn’t make us racists or any particular “–ists” – it simply is how we’re made! His mission is to move from talking about equality to equity – a discussion deserving of a blog of its own.

What can we learn from all of this?

We had gathered at this conference, many colours, ages and backgrounds to talk about the challenges we all faced with an ageing population and a shrinking workforce. Yes, we had similar challenges, we could share experiences and our different solutions. And yet we were not all the same.  That’s where it felt we had real strength. If we celebrated our differences and built on our joint appetite for collaboration, we could continue to innovate and create new opportunities for living well in older age.

James shared this clever video which reinforced the point for me: “Be together, not the same

My take away from the conference – Keep it Simple:

  • Simplify our approach to engaging with customers – what matters to you? Not what’s the matter with you!
  • Simplify our language – let’s get rid of the jargon. We talk about ‘convivium’ at the heart of our family households, yet it’s hard to say and even harder to spell – so let’s talk about sharing our life together and breaking bread.
  • Be consumer driven – let’s develop and deliver services that are focused on what our customers want. Sounds obvious, but often feels like rocket science in the world of aged care.
  • Translate connectedness, meaning, purpose and exercise into everyday activities. Not make each element someone’s task.

I’ve come back from the conference feeling re-energised and determined to maintain our international collaboration as we can all learn and build new world thinking together.

A Global Community of Thought Leaders at The Green House Annual Meeting

By / Posted on December 22nd, 2017

“Waves of Change, Oceans of Opportunity” became more than a theme for the 2017 Green House Annual Meeting, it became a rallying cry. The world is at a pivotal point, and the meeting tapped into the collective potential of an innovative group to help shape the future. Over 250 people from around the globe converged in sunny Florida to connect, learn and grow. Hosted by the progressive and gracious John Knox Village, attendees were able to experience the potential of The Green House model, firsthand. Coming on the heels of the devastating Hurricane Irma, The Green House community came together to raise over $1200 for disaster relief, including many in-kind donations.  Engaged and generous sponsors add to the rich tapestry of learning, and enhance the conference experience.  Through challenging speakers, interactive opportunities, and recognition of the global voice, the ripples of the time together will continue to be felt for a long time.

Sharpen your skills in the kitchen!  This was the challenge put out to direct care staff who were invited to participate in a “Chop Chef” style competition in the onsite training kitchen at John Knox Village. Under the guidance of Chef Mark of John Knox Village and Chef Ian from Christian Cares in Kentucky, direct care staff gained valuable skills in the kitchen, build strong relationships with peers and deepened their understanding of being an empowered staff member.

Over 40 Executives including representatives from 8 countries participated in a stimulating and challenging session about Social Entrepreneurship led by Green House Board President, Scott Townsley. The commitment and vision of these leaders to share their voice, demonstrates the power of a community of thought leaders to change a paradigm.

The conference opened with keynote speaker, James Wright, challenging the group to explore the meaning and value of diversity in the workplace. Through interactive exercises to uncover unconscious bias and understand the difference between equity and equality, Mr. Wright’s message became a thread for meaningful discussion throughout the conference, and perhaps a new lens to view the world.

Monique, shahbaz at Weinberg Green House homes in Detroit, MI

The Green House Annual Meeting welcomes every role within The Green House model, believing that sharing an education space leads to some incredible conversations and epiphanies. For example, in the closing plenary session, when Monique, a direct care staff member from Detroit, stood up and said, “this is not a job, this is a career”, there was electricity throughout the room, and a heightened understanding that workforce development is essential to ensure sustainable success of Green House homes. The education sessions range from important macro topics like “What You Need to Know About the New CMS Regulations to Lead the Way” to nuts and bolts topics like how to engage in constructive conflict. Facilitated networking through an exercise called “Words Make Worlds”, led to

Words to Leave Behind was followed by a round of Words Make Worlds

spirited conversation, and many creative expressions of words to take forward, and those to leave behind. There is value provided at a strategic level and an operational level, and the interaction that occurs is priceless.

Yaron from Israel, and Janet from Alaska reunited after meeting 8 years ago at Seward Mountain Haven

Last year, one of the far reaching visions was that Green House would “Go Global”. At the time, it seemed like a dream, and then international visionaries began to reach out about bringing Green House to their community. This year, representatives from Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Israel, Indonesia, Panama and Singapore participated in The Green House conference, and an International Think Tank where ideas and possibility spread through the room like wild fire. One participant remarked that what may have started as a ‘project’ is now far more than that… it is The Green House Movement! Everyone left with a ‘fire in their belly’ to make meaningful change. Conversations and plans have continued full force, and there are now expansive opportunities for Green House to impact the needs of aging individuals on a global scale.

The Green House Annual Meeting is always an energizing time for those who are exploring, implementing and sustaining the model to connect with their peers and deepen their understanding. This year brought new elements that challenged the group to deepen their role as a community of thought leaders and lead society as an inclusive and innovative force that celebrates the intrinsic worth of EVERY individual.   The Green House movement has the energy and vision to disrupt the status quo and propel a dynamic system to new heights amidst a rapidly changing world.

Green House Featured as Innovator at National LeadingAge Conference

By / Posted on October 20th, 2017

To care well for others, we need to reinforce our own passion for what we do—and actively work to improve how to support our country’s aging population today. That’s exactly what we do at the LeadingAge Annual Meeting & EXPO, our nation’s largest annual event for the not-for-profit aging services field. In education sessions, during general sessions and through eye-opening, one-of-a-kind experiences, you and your team will be immersed in our shared mission of helping older adults thrive.”

The Green House Project is looking forward to opportunities to connect with visionary organizations at this of this event.  Please visit us in the exhibit hall at booth #1913.  Also, don’t miss this informative, challenging and stimulating sessions that feature Green House expertise and innovation:

Monday, October 30, 2017

3:30 – 5:00 p.m.

22-C. Integrated vs. Segregated Environments for Persons With Dementia

  • Examine the pros and cons of integrating versus separating elders living with dementia in different settings.
  • Consider how the approach to dementia care and programming has evolved as the physical environment of memory care “units” continues to change from locked wings to neighborhoods.
  • Assess your organization’s philosophy and care practices as they relate to those living with dementia and their care partners.


  • Audrey Weiner, President & CEO, The New Jewish Home, New York, NY
  • Ann Wyatt, Manager, Palliative & Residential Care, CaringKind, New York, NY
  • Susan Ryan, Senior Director, Green House Project, Linthicum, MD
  • Tammy Marshall, Chief Experience Officer, The New Jewish Home, New York, NY
  • J. David Hoglund, Principal and Director, Perkins Eastman, Pittsburgh, PA

 Tuesday, October 31, 2017

3:30 – 5:00 p.m.

48-F. From Traditional Skilled Nursing to Green House® Model

  • Discover how resident leadership, administration and board members achieved consensus to transition toward a new model of care.
  • Understand how the new financial model created a platform for new funding opportunities and revenue streams.
  • Consider planning, forecasting, marketing and implementation pitfalls to avoid from both a financial and care perspective.


  • Gerald Stryker, President/CEO, John Knox Village of Florida, Inc., Pompano Beach, FL
  • Rob Seitz, Marketing & Communications Manager, John Knox Village of Florida, Inc., Pompano Beach, FL
  • Jean Eccleston, CFO, John Knox Village of Florida, Inc., Pompano Beach, FL
  • David Haun, Resident, John Knox Village of Florida, Inc., Pompano Beach, FL
  • Twylah Haun, Resident, John Knox Village of Florida, Inc., Pompano Beach, FL
  • Nanette Olson, Executive Director of the Foundation, John Knox Village of Florida, Inc., Pompano Beach, FL
  • Monica McAfee, Director of Sales and Marketing, John Knox Village of Florida, Inc., Pompano Beach, FL

Better Together, The 8th Annual Green House Meeting and Celebration

By / Posted on November 25th, 2015

Pioneer Network Highlights The Green House Project as Thought Leader

By / Posted on August 6th, 2015


Rhonda Wolpert, Rob Simonetti and Debbie Wiegand share Design Lessons Learned

The Green House Project was highlighted as an innovator and thought leader during the 2015 Pioneer Network Conference.  The Pioneer Network is a convener of organizations who are moving away from institutional models of long term care to more consumer-driven models that embrace flexibility, self-determination and a belief that elders are meant to thrive.  During the stimulating days of educational sessions, representatives from the national Green House initiative, and Green House organizations from around the country spoke on various topics to help move the field forward.

Debbie Wiegand, Rhonda Wolpert and Rob Simonetti shared design lessons learned in their session, “Build This, Not That, Lessons Learned from a Decade of Green House Experience.”   Since the first home opened in 2003, there have been variations in layout and design. Through a formal Design Survey, The Green House Project asked every Green House adopter what works and what doesn’t for building design and regulatory challenges, and what strategies worked to overcome perceived regulatory code barriers. Also, insights from newly completed THRIVE research help us understand how the design contributes to sustainability, from operating cost and quality of care perspectives. Listen to this webinar that Debbie and Rob did to help those interested in changing the paradigm of long term care, build environments that support a new way of life.


Cheryl VanBemden, Marla DeVries, and Susan Frazier take us into the “black box” or Green House

Susan Frazier, Marla DeVries and Cheryl Van Bemden took audience members “Into The Black Box of Green House homes”.  Here they talked about the impact of decision making to reinforce or erode culture change. Utilizing new insights from The Research Initiative Valuing Eldercare (THRIVE), a collaborative of top researchers created to learn more about what contributes to higher quality in nursing homes, this session explored the factors impacting problem-solving in long-term care organizations that lead to reinforcement or erosion of an empowered workforce, and person-centered models. Participants explored the four factors that the research determined to most greatly impact sustainability, while discovering organizational strengths and growth opportunities to create a slip-resistant change.


Tammy Marshall, Mirian Levi and Lori Grossman from Jewish Home Lifecare

Tammy Marshall, Lori Grossman and Miriam Levi shared their experience of implementing person-centered care principles across Jewish Home Lifecare, a large organization with multiple sites.  Tammy Marshall facilitated a second session with Sonya Barsness.  They spoke about the importance of research to support “culture change” and “person-centered care.” They shared research that is being done at Jewish Home Lifecare, and how others can access research, translate it to those who need it most, and identify opportunities for additional research.

Marla Speaking

Marla DeVries speaking about Research and Sustainability

Finally, the team from Lutheran Homes of Oshkosh shared a special session called, “Honoring the Spirit Within Through Namaste Care: An End-of-Life Program for Persons with Dementia”.  Namaste Care takes its name from the Hindu word meaning “to honor the spirit within.” The program was developed for elders with advanced dementia and strives to maintain their highest quality of life. It includes simple and practical ways for care partners to create opportunities for connection, meaning, and joy.

This conference is always an energy boost, knowing that the movement to transform long term care, and what it means to age, is growing, evolving and gaining momentum.  The Green House Project is honored to be a leader of culture change and will continue to pursue evidence based excellence, that is based in deep knowing relationships, meaningful life and empowerment for all.





The Tipping Point for Revolutionizing Elderhood

By / Posted on December 4th, 2013

GHP to speak at Pioneer Network about Meaningful Lives and Real Transformation

By / Posted on July 23rd, 2013

The Pioneer Network is a group, formed in 1997, with the charge to convene person-centered advocates, providers and consumers to create change in long term care, “We believe that the quality of life and living for America’s elders is rooted in a supportive community and cemented by relationships that respect each of us as individuals regardless of age, medical condition or limitations.  ”

On August 11-14, in Bellvue, Washington, the 13th Annual Pioneer Network Conference will be held,  with the theme, “Hear the Voice, Honor the Choice”.  The Green House Project has long been a leader in this movement, and very involved in this organization.  Team members, David Farrell and Anna Ortigara serve on the board, and The Green House Project is a regular sponsor and speaker at the conference.

This year, our presentation, “Meaningful Lives, Empowered Staff, Strategies for Real Transformation: THE GREEN HOUSE® Project“, will delve into workforce transformation, and how the comprehensive changes of the model, create powerful outcomes for elders, staff and the organization.  We will be joined by Jaime’s Place, a Green House project located in Winthrop, Washington.  There is nothing like hearing stories and experiences directly from the people who are living and working in the model everyday.

The Pioneer Network conference brings people together to deepen this social movement of culture change in long term care.  Together we will change the way that the world views aging by “working towards a culture of aging that supports the care of elders in settings where individual voices are heard and individual choices are respected”.

Leading Age Honors Green House Organizations and Stimulates Thought Leadership

By / Posted on October 29th, 2012

The 2012 LeadingAge Annual Meeting in Denver, CO was an incredible opportunity to connect with thousands of aging services professionals and explore the current and future needs of our field. Through engaging education sessions and a robust exhibit hall, innovative ideas sparked and crackled throughout the convention center. Atul Gawande, a practicing surgeon, a staff writer for The New Yorker and an associate professor at Harvard Medical School, delivered a keynote about the power of communication and person-centered care. He says that, “medicine works best when it works for people’s goals, not the other way around.” It is not surprising then that he has visited Green House projects, Leonard Florence Center for Living, and White Oak Cottages and has returned several times to learn lessons from the elders and the model. This year’s Leading Age Conference highlighted Green House values and adopters throughout the event.

Green House adopters are thought leaders and pioneers in the field of long term care. Audrey Weiner, Leading Age Board Chair, and CEO of Green House adopter Jewish Home Lifecare, addressed the conference and boldly challenged the group to meet and exceed the goals of Health Care Reform through accountability and engagement. Green House adopters are leading the charge of innovation, with a commitment to person centered care, workplace excellence, and clinical outcomes. Steve McAlilly, CEO of Methodist Senior Services of Mississippi, and the first Green House project in the nation, was awarded the highest award that Leading Age gives its members, The Award of Honor. Steve embodies the LeadingAge promise, to “Inspire. Serve. Advocate.” Tabitha Health Care Service, was honored for Excellence in the Workplace, and their commitment to service and leadership in building a better world for the aged.

The Green House Project is proud to be associated with these diverse leaders for their creativity and dedication to quality of person-centered care and join Ms. Weiner’s charge to create homes that meet the triple aim of health care reform: better health, better healthcare and better value. The educational session, The Green House Project: Transforming Skilled Nursing Care, created a space to partner with St. Martin’s in the Pines CEO, Terry Rogers, and share how this model creates real home and meaningful lives. The newest development, The Green House Business Case, presents how this model impacts lives as well as the bottom line of the organization.

The Leading Age meeting was a time to celebrate the hard work and accomplishments of the non-profit sector of long term care. The national Green House Project was gratified by the recognition of Green House organizations for their excellence and thought leadership. The success of the national initiative is bolstered by the success of individual organizations, whose pioneering spirit enables everyone to grow.

The Green House Project to present and exhibit at The LeadingAge Annual Meeting in Denver

By / Posted on October 5th, 2012

The Green House Project offers a model for long-term care
designed to look and feel like a real home. Green House
homes are seen as a national leader and proven business
model for long-term care. Today there are hundreds of
Green House homes open or in development in the majority
of states.

Our evidence-based model has been proven — through
independent research — to be effective, feasible and
sustainable. Our technical assistance is a big reason why
The Green House Project has become a preferred partner
in helping organizations meet demands of the changing long-term care market.

Connect with Us at the Leading Age Conference:

  • Pick up a free copy of our Business Case at our booth (2118)
  • Join our Session, “The Green House ® Model” Transforming Skilled Care, on Wednesday, October 24 @ 2:30-4:00p
  • Talk to us about how you can bring The Green House model to your community

The 5th Annual Green House Meeting and Celebration, a huge success!

By / Posted on September 12th, 2012

“Meaningful Life, Meaningful Engagement” was a most appropriate theme this year for the 5th Annual Green House Meeting and Celebration! Over 160 people representing Green House home adopters from Alaska to Florida spent three days learning, laughing, building relationships, sharing stories and most importantly challenging conventional ways of thinking about elders!

The meeting kicked off to a great start with pre-conference sessions in the critical areas of coaching leadership, reframing activities and leisure, and equipping the Director of Nursing for success in the model. These intensives took important roles and concepts to the next level.

An impassioned keynote by Green House model founder, Dr. Bill Thomas, urged attendees on the opening day of the conference to fill their Green House homes with stories, “a story is not a story until you tell it”. A house is not a home without a story he explained, and this includes the stories of all of the elders who live there and the people who work in the home.

Storytelling became a constant throughout the conference with many venues for elders, Shahbazim, Guides, CEOs, Nurses, Social Workers and Activity Professionals to share their experiences, challenges, and successes with each other.

A highlight of the conference was the involvement of Porter Hills, The Green House project in Grand Rapids, MI. Ingrid Weaver, CEO and family member, Carl Eschels welcomed attendees to the conference, and invited attendees to visit their homes over the course of the meeting. Elders from Porter Hills served on an elder panel to share their experience of living in a Green House home, and wisdom about life. Also, Elders of the Porter Hills singers graced us with beautiful music and entertainment. We are lucky to have four Green House projects in Michigan, and through beautiful photos, and great attendance, they added insights to every aspect of the meeting.

New tools such as The Green House Business Case, were introduced at the meeting. Concurrent sessions addressing the diverse interests and needs of the attendees spanned the two day meeting. There were Green House specific sessions about team building, marketing, utilizing data, palliative care, continence care, and other important topics. Information to create successful development as well as sustainability of the model was shared and discussed. An exciting feature is that many sessions were livestreamed and recorded, expanding the reach of these valuable tools and education.

Teepa Snow, a renowned expert in dementia care, shared her energy and expertise with the meeting through interactive sessions and a keynote. These sessions equipped attendees with new ways of being with and learning from people living with dementia. Many people had experiences that they will never forget, as Teepa explained the physical and cognitive changes that a person living with dementia goes through, and how that impacts the ways we can engage effectively.

After a whirlwind of fun, learning, stories and relationship building, The Green House attendees returned to their organizations around the country to share their knowledge and new connections. Building a community of passionate people who are committed to making life better for elders, and those who work closest with them—that is what The Green House Project is all about- the Annual Meeting and Celebration was a joyful time to come together and celebrate how far we have come, and to combine our forces to achieve what is yet to be accomplished.

Michigan NPR Affiliate, WGVU, Interviews Dr. Bill Thomas and Porter Hills at GH Annual Meeting

By / Posted on September 9th, 2012

On September 7, 2012, WGVU a local NPR affiliate in Michigan interviewed Dr. Bill Thomas, and Porter Hills CEO, Ingrid Weaver, about The Green House Project. They discuss how the model transforms the philosophy, organizational design and environment of traditional long term care, radically shifting the paradigm of aging! Additionally, this interview highlights the power of bringing together providers from around the country to celebrate and learn from each other. Porter Hills is a wonderful host, and a great example of what it means to LIVE The Green House brand and mission.  It can be different!!

Listen here:

Livestream Schedule for The Green House Annual Meeting

By / Posted on September 1st, 2012

Thank you for joining us in Grand Rapids!

All Livestreamed video sessions are available to watch on demand at ChangingMedia’s Ustream channel.
Green House Meeting Keynote: Dr. Bill Thomas

Video streaming by Ustream
Elders Rule! Panel Discussion

Video streaming by Ustream
Supporting Continence and Partnering for Success

Video streaming by Ustream
Accepting the Challenge! Being with and Learning from Persons living with Dementia

Video streaming by Ustream
Porter Hills Singers

Video streaming by Ustream
Meaningful Life and Engagement

Video streaming by Ustream

The 5th Annual Green House Meeting is a time of relationship-building and learning. This meeting is exclusively for organizations who are building certified Green House homes, however, there are ways that everyone can benefit from the information that is being shared. We are looking forward to the opportunities to expand the conversation beyond Green House adopters, as we continue to strive toward Meaningful Life, Meaningful Engagement.

Livestreaming video services provided by ChangingMedia. For more information visit or email Kavan Peterson at