Green House Blog

Revolutionizing Environment and Transforming Mindset of Long Term Care

    Sarah Hoffman, Shahbaz, Lebanon Valley Brethran Home, Palmyra, PA

Having worked in long term care for the past 12 years, I’ve seen my share of the good, the bad and the ugly. I’ve also had the privilege of working in the Green Houses in Palmyra, PA for the past four years, and truly feel this is how long term care should have been modeled all along. While the environment is a vast improvement to traditional nursing homes and fosters more opportunities for elders to be more active and independent than they could in a traditional setting, that is only one side of the coin. I think what sets the Green House model apart is the deep rooted mission and passion that all staff share to let elders rule. Life doesn’t stop simply because one requires skilled nursing services, and all staff in Green Houses, from the shahbaz (caregiver), to the nurse, to the administration/support team undergo training to recognize this and empower the elders entrusted to our care to thrive and live life to the fullest despite whatever medical needs they have. Instead of having to conform to a schedule built around staff efficiency and convenience, elders in Green Houses truly get to live life on their terms and set their personal routines for each day based on their preferences and needs. As staff, we get to know our elders far better than we ever could in a traditional setting…we truly are family. Because we have more time to spend with the elders, we are able to deeply learn about the entire person and the rich lives they’ve led through the stories they and their families share. This allows us to help our elders create meaningful daily routines and engagement opportunities with not only staff, their families and each other, but their community as well. The Green House model isn’t only revolutionizing environment, it is transforming the mindset of long term care by putting the focus back on the elder, not the diagnosis (regardless of how severe or advanced it may be). There is a better way, and I’m honored to witness elders living it daily.

Smart Money Blog, "the kind of thing boomers might really want.”

Today’s Smart Money Blog, part of the Wall Street Journal Digital Network, wrote about a “New Kind of Nursing Home“, The Green House Project.

The author highlighted key aspects of The Green House Project transformation, including the change in architecture, and the momentum to date.

The Green House Project works on the “de-institutionalization” of nursing homes by creating a series of small homes — rather than a huge nursing home building — that residents can live in. The 6,400 – 7,000 square foot homes house about 10 residents apiece. Each resident gets a private room and bathroom and then shares the main living area, dining room and kitchen with the others. Within each of the residents’ bedrooms, there is a locked medicine cabinet that contain their meds.

One exciting aspect of the article is the sense of hope, in this alternative for those who need skilled nursing care.

“This is an excellent idea that could really catch on,” says Sandra Timmerman, the director of the MetLife Mature Market Institute. “As we look to the future, this is the kind of thing boomers might really want.”

Click here to read the full article

Smart Money Blog, “the kind of thing boomers might really want.”

Today’s Smart Money Blog, part of the Wall Street Journal Digital Network, wrote about a “New Kind of Nursing Home“, The Green House Project.

The author highlighted key aspects of The Green House Project transformation, including the change in architecture, and the momentum to date.

The Green House Project works on the “de-institutionalization” of nursing homes by creating a series of small homes — rather than a huge nursing home building — that residents can live in. The 6,400 – 7,000 square foot homes house about 10 residents apiece. Each resident gets a private room and bathroom and then shares the main living area, dining room and kitchen with the others. Within each of the residents’ bedrooms, there is a locked medicine cabinet that contain their meds.

One exciting aspect of the article is the sense of hope, in this alternative for those who need skilled nursing care.

“This is an excellent idea that could really catch on,” says Sandra Timmerman, the director of the MetLife Mature Market Institute. “As we look to the future, this is the kind of thing boomers might really want.”

Click here to read the full article

Ave Maria Home, Grand Opening Celebration


November 11, 2011
On a crisp and beautiful fall evening, various stakeholders joined together to celebrate the Grand Opening of Ave Maria home, in Bartlett, TN. Through a journey of many years, through successes and setbacks, the team at Ave Maria can now look to their three beautiful Green House homes, and see the fruits of their labor. To see the shahbazim in their homes, serving a home cooked lunch, working in a self managed team, and bringing the model to life, is a cause for great joy.

The Green House model radically transforms the traditional nursing home in three key areas. The philosophy shifts, from a declinist view of aging, where people are viewed as a diagnosis, to a developmental view of aging, where all people are seen as creative, resourceful and whole. The organization reorganizes to support this view, bringing real power into the home, to the elder and those working closest with them. It unlocks the role of direct care staff, from narrow, task defined roles, to roles where deep relationships are formed and optimal wellness is created. The environment is an intentionally designed home that enables those living and working in the home to experience privacy, dignity, intimacy and real home. By transforming the traditional nursing home in these three major ways, people who need high levels of clinical care can have their needs met without that being the focus of their existence.

As with any great change, it must begin with a strong leadership team. Frank Gattuso’s steadfast leadership has helped this project to continue moving forward amongst various changes and challenges along the path. Brenda Hardin, The Green House guide, and the entire leadership team at Ave Maria have devoted themselves to learning the coaching style of leadership and other important tenets of The Green House model. They continue to develop and learn, in order to sustain a successful culture change. The shahbazim who manage the home and the clinical support team whose partnership provides outstanding clinical outcomes, create a place where people are deeply known, and can flourish. To the board members, the donors, the community of Bartlett, TN, and all those who made this Grand Opening possible, Thank you.

Ave Maria Home, Executive Director, Frank Gattuso

Of course, culture change is a journey without a destination, and as we celebrate the opening of three Green House homes, we know that there is more work to be done. Ave Maria Home has dreams of future Green House homes devoted to skilled care, rehabilitation or other evolutions of the model, and The Green House Project looks forward to these opportunities for partnership as together we change the paradigm of aging.

To view more photos visit our Facebook Page

Christa Hojlo, "creating environments where the very best can happen for people"

Christa Hojlo, National Director for VA Community Living Centers, Veterans Health Administration, speaks here at the opening celebration about why the VA sees the Green House model as a long-term alternative to traditional nursing homes. 

She reflects, that we are creating an environment where our veterans can thrive and grow and where the staff can grow in new ways.  It puts the power in the hands of the veteran and those working closest with them to meet their needs, whether that be a stack of pancakes, or anything else that will support the veteran in meeting his/her highest potential.

Christa Hojlo, “creating environments where the very best can happen for people”

Christa Hojlo, National Director for VA Community Living Centers, Veterans Health Administration, speaks here at the opening celebration about why the VA sees the Green House model as a long-term alternative to traditional nursing homes. 

She reflects, that we are creating an environment where our veterans can thrive and grow and where the staff can grow in new ways.  It puts the power in the hands of the veteran and those working closest with them to meet their needs, whether that be a stack of pancakes, or anything else that will support the veteran in meeting his/her highest potential.

A Veteran's Reflections on Veteran's Day

Veteran Randy Cook, leads the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance during dedication ceremony on 10/21/11 for the first two houses being built at VA Illiana Health Care System. These are the first two houses VA has built with other VA’s in the process.

Randy Cook, a veteran who will be moving into Freedom House on 11/29/11, at VA Illiana Health Care System in Danville, Illinois, served in the Army from 1976-96. He was a Sgt in the army, and he served our county in Desert Storm. He took a moment to share a few thoughts, on Veteran’s Day:

How would you describe a good day? How do you think The Green House homes will support you in this?
Knowing I am safe because others after me are now standing watch. I can’t wait to move into Freedom House. The house is beautiful and I am so excited and proud I was selected to live in Freedom House. It is a wonderful place for me and my fellow Veterans that I will be living with.

What is the message you would like to share with future generation about Veteran’s Day?
To have a special day like Veterans Day to recognize Veterans such as myself is very rewarding. This day should never be taken for granted. Men and women have made the ultimate sacrifice for this country to have the freedoms we have today. Hopefully people will take a moment to reflect how fortunate we are in America because of what our Veterans have done and what our military today are doing.

Julie Sanders, Shahbaz shows Veteran Randy Cook through Freedom House after dedication ceremony held on 10/21/11.

A Veteran’s Reflections on Veteran’s Day

Veteran Randy Cook, leads the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance during dedication ceremony on 10/21/11 for the first two houses being built at VA Illiana Health Care System. These are the first two houses VA has built with other VA’s in the process.

Randy Cook, a veteran who will be moving into Freedom House on 11/29/11, at VA Illiana Health Care System in Danville, Illinois, served in the Army from 1976-96. He was a Sgt in the army, and he served our county in Desert Storm. He took a moment to share a few thoughts, on Veteran’s Day:

How would you describe a good day? How do you think The Green House homes will support you in this?
Knowing I am safe because others after me are now standing watch. I can’t wait to move into Freedom House. The house is beautiful and I am so excited and proud I was selected to live in Freedom House. It is a wonderful place for me and my fellow Veterans that I will be living with.

What is the message you would like to share with future generation about Veteran’s Day?
To have a special day like Veterans Day to recognize Veterans such as myself is very rewarding. This day should never be taken for granted. Men and women have made the ultimate sacrifice for this country to have the freedoms we have today. Hopefully people will take a moment to reflect how fortunate we are in America because of what our Veterans have done and what our military today are doing.

Julie Sanders, Shahbaz shows Veteran Randy Cook through Freedom House after dedication ceremony held on 10/21/11.

Video of Elder Veteran, Thomas Harrell, From St. Martin's in the Pines

In honor of Veteran’s Day, on November 11, we are pleased to highlight the work that is being done in Green House homes around the country to bring homes of dignity, privacy and individuality to the heros of this nation. View these videos where Linda Robertson, of St. Martin’s in the Pines interviews Mr. Thomas Harrell about his life in The Green House home, and what Veteran’s Day means to him.

What Does Veteran’s Day Mean to You?

What is it like to live in a Green House Home?

Video of Elder Veteran, Thomas Harrell, From St. Martin’s in the Pines

In honor of Veteran’s Day, on November 11, we are pleased to highlight the work that is being done in Green House homes around the country to bring homes of dignity, privacy and individuality to the heros of this nation. View these videos where Linda Robertson, of St. Martin’s in the Pines interviews Mr. Thomas Harrell about his life in The Green House home, and what Veteran’s Day means to him.

What Does Veteran’s Day Mean to You?

What is it like to live in a Green House Home?

From The New York Times' New Old Age Blog: A Home for Those Who Hate Nursing Homes."

The New York Times did a follow up blog post on last week’s feature on The Green House Project, A Nursing Home Shrinks Until It Feels Like a Home.

This weekend’s post on The New Old Age Blog is titled, A Home for Those Who Hate Nursing Homes:
http://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/04/a-home-for-those-who-hate-nursing-homes/?ref=health

From The New York Times’ New Old Age Blog: A Home for Those Who Hate Nursing Homes.”

The New York Times did a follow up blog post on last week’s feature on The Green House Project, A Nursing Home Shrinks Until It Feels Like a Home.

This weekend’s post on The New Old Age Blog is titled, A Home for Those Who Hate Nursing Homes:
http://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/04/a-home-for-those-who-hate-nursing-homes/?ref=health