The Green House model creates a habilitative environment where all people have lives worth living. By eliminating large nursing facilities and creating a home within a community setting, people are seen as whole people who are still growing and deserving of meaning, purpose and relationship.
The goal of The Green House residences that support people with ALS and MS at Leonard Florence Center for Living is to design and develop smart houses that promote and support independence, regardless of the stage of the illness. Due to the unique architecture and small footprint of each Green House, wheelchair-bound individuals have independent mobility with meaningful choices and dignity.
Some people hear the name “Green House” and they automatically picture a ranch-style house and a picket fence. Sometimes Green Houses do look exactly like that; but there are Green Houses in cities too. The nation’s first urban Green Houses are in Chelsea, Mass., at the Leonard Florence Center for Living and I recently dropped by for my first visit.
When the Chelsea Jewish Foundation decided to adopt the Green House Project model they had a problem. Located just outside of Boston, they had very limited real estate to work with. This called for innovative architects to build the nation’s first multi-story Green House Project homes.
The architecture firm DiMella/Shaffer took the features of a traditional Green House and translated them into a unique apartment building featuring two Green House homes with 10 private bedrooms on each floor. I got a tour with lead architect Diane Dooley, who showed me how state-of-the-art technology helps residents like Steve Saling live independently.
Steve lives in one of two Green House apartments that are also remarkable for being the first in the nation created for people living with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and MS. Although Steve can no longer speak or move independently, infra-red sensors give him complete control to open doors, turn lights on and off, adjust his thermostat and home theater.
But the most remarkable thing about the Leonard Florence Center is not the building and technology — it’s the people. It is people — passionate, talented, beautiful people — that bring a Green House to life.
In order for people to build deep and enduring relationships they need a protected space that has both an inside and an outside. And a place that belongs to them that is separate from the places they share with others.
Check out this photo. It might not look like much to some people but it is beautiful to me.
Doors serve a vital function. They divide inside from outside. They create a space where people can belong, where they can learn to trust and even love each other.
What lies behind those doors? I am honored to share with you a brief video clip of a scene that unfolded behind those doors. It is lunchtime and the elders, the Shahbazim and their honored guests have gathered around a big wooden table for a meal. Take 25 seconds to experience the feeling of a Green House.
This place and these people are doing what human beings do naturally. They are making and being sustained by a genuine human community.
The Green House model embraces individuality, endorses empowerment of staff and elders, and most importantly, celebrates life. These values have contributed to the uniqueness of this model and set a new standard for the way we serve our elders. However, in order to fully appreciate the transformative power of The Green House model, the experiences of those actually living it must be shared.
The old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” is difficult to dispute. A smile captures the simple joy experienced in smelling a home-cooked meal or convening with friends. These types of memories are created daily in Green House homes across the country.
The Green House is excited to announce an opportunity for Green House adopters to share their powerful stories through photographs. We are asking you to submit one photograph and a paragraph describing how the values of this model are experienced through one or more of the following categories:
•Meaningful Engagement: the power of individual preferences, deep knowing and natural rhythms
• Team Building: education, communication, partnerships, and the development and sustainability of self-managed work teams
• Celebrating Individuality: diversity, life stories, growth and development
• Intentional Community: Involving family, volunteers and the community at large
• Dining and Convivium: training, support, empowerment and creating a home
The contest is open to Green House adopters under contract with The Green House Project. Please submit materials to firstname.lastname@example.org by August 24, 2011. The winning organization will be announced at the 4th Annual Green House Conference, September 8 & 9, 2011 and will receive a new flip camera!
Lois Thomas, wife of a Green House elder, discusses how much better the experience is in a Green House home than it was in the traditional facility where her husband used to live. She talks about the high quality of care and the relaxed atmosphere at The Green House home.
Cindy Konecny and Connie Schafer talk about their mother, Bertha Brooks, a Green House elder, and describe the comfort they have in knowing their mother is loved and cared for in a real home surrounded by her favorite things.
Green House elder Doris Delanus talks about how The Green House home provides a real sense of independence she didn’t have before moving in and how a Green House residence offers all of the comforts of home. She also expresses her love and appreciation for the Shahbazim.
Green House elder Betty Blood, along with her son and daughter-in-law, share the positive experiences of being part of a Green House home, including home-cooking, private bedrooms and exceptional nursing care. Her son describes his “peace of mind” knowing that his mother is well cared for and cherished.
Shahbazim from various Green House homes explain their roles and responsibilities in sustaining and nurturing the elders so that together they are able to experience the joy and richness of everyday life. The Shahbazim express why working in a Green House home is empowering and meaningful to them, including the impact of their individual relationships with elders and their family members.
Guides from various Green House homes discuss their role in supporting overall operations and coaching Shahbazim to achieve the goals of The Green House model. They highlight their sense of fulfillment from being part of the radical transformation of long-term care.
Shahbazim Linda Johnson and Emma Williams talk about the joy and fulfillment they feel in caring for elders in a Green House home. Linda and Emma discuss The Green House model’s holistic approach to care and the importance of teamwork.
Wanda Harrison, a Green House Shahbaz, explains the individualized care the elders receive in Green House homes and the companionship that develops between the Shahbazim and elders. Wanda also discusses the personal satisfaction she feels as a Shahbaz.
Bill Groll, a Green House Shahbaz, discusses the meaningful relationships Shahbazim develop with elders and their family members. He discusses the self-esteem and empowerment he has gained as a Green House Shahbaz.