By Rachel Scher McLean / 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.