The Visionary Leadership Behind the First PACE Green House homes

By / Posted on March 30th, 2017

Green House homes are dynamic and able to impact innovation in many different settings.  The first Green House homes to be incorporated with a PACE community have opened as part of The Thome Rivertown Neighborhood in Detroit.  It is an honor to be able to open the doors of accessibility for low income elders through this partnership. 

PACE is the acronym of the Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly.  PACE programs are government-funded managed care health plans that also provide comprehensive health services for individuals age 55 and over who have health needs classified as “nursing home eligible” by their state’s Medicaid program.  The goal is to keep chronically ill elders independent for as long as possible –preventing avoidable  hospitalizations, emergency visits and stays in nursing homes.

Roger Myers is CEO of Presbyterian Villages of Michigan, and Mary Naber is President/CEO of PACE Southeast Michigan.  They are the leaders behind this innovation, and hold the belief in this partnership to evolve the healthcare system.  “This is the future.  Health is about more than medical care.  To meet the needs of elders, the focus must be holistic, accessible and home based,” Naber says.

The goal of PACE is to keep people as independent as possible and to avoid nursing home stays.  Despite that, nationally 7% of PACE participants still end up spending some time in long term care, according to Naber, “less because of a need for skilled care, and more because they are not safe to stay in their homes.”

“As we know, even the best traditional nursing home does not provide the greatest living experience, and now, for at least 21 people, The Rivertown Neighborhood is able to offer an alternative.  The Weinberg Green House homes meet their needs, support them to thrive and enable them to remain in the community,” says Naber.  “It’s very gratifying to be able to offer this option.  I wish I had 10 Green House homes for people!”

The Green House homes are licensed as Homes for the Aged, a distinction that provides flexibility and enables elders with a high level of need to live in the least restrictive environment possible.   As it happens, many of the people living in these homes have moved there from nursing homes.  The PACE program provides a “wrap-around” so that elders receive all the services they need, enabling The Green House home will be their home for life.

“The great thing about the co-location of the Weinberg Green House homes to the PACE center is that the elders receive all the same benefits as if they were living in their own homes, which they are- Green House homes.  Being right on the PACE campus will keep elders more mobile and socially engaged.  It will also help PACE clinicians stay in touch, and we know that frequent interactions can help prevent ER visits and other medical concerns.” explains Myers.

“Health is not just about medical care, especially when you’re dealing with chronic illness,” declares Naber.  By leveraging an interdisciplinary team rather than the typical doctor-driven model, the team at the Weinberg Green Houses are able to care for the WHOLE person: body, mind and spirit.

PACE Southeast Michigan is a 501c3 not-for profit government funded unique health plan and comprehensive care provider.   It is a jointly owned by Henry Ford Health System, one of the early PACE innovators, and Presbyterian Villages of Michigan.

The Thome Rivertown Neighborhood includes Independent Living, Assisted Living, the PACE Center and now The Green House homes.  Not everyone who lives on the campus is a part of PACE, but it is built as a continuum to enable low income and highly frail people to stay in their community as their health status changes.

Integrating residential living with PACE is proving to be an effective development that will hopefully spread throughout the country.  PVM led the development effort for this supportive neighborhood during the recession, and the idea was so compelling that they were able to achieve their goals.  A $2 million grant from the Baltimore-based Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation provided much of the support to make their vision to add Green House homes to the community a reality.