Green House Blog

Celebrating Mary Valentine: Green House Life through her Granddaughter’s Eyes

Contribution by Ann Frohman, granddaughter of Mary Valentine

Mary Valentine was a tiny, elegant red-headed woman who surrounded herself with beauty.  She was a lady of fashion and style. She loved the opera, flowers, poetry, French Impressionist art, the warmth of a home surrounded by family and friends.  She was humble and appreciative of all life had given her, an eternal optimist, never sad or discouraged.  She made others at ease.  She was the nicest person I have ever known.

Mary, a register nurse, was married to Lyn Valentine, a medical doctor. He preceded her in death by some thirty years. After his death Mary worked at a nursing home.  Fiercely independent, she worked until she was seventy years old. By the time she entered a nursing home in her mid 90’s, she was well aware of what was in store.

When Mary entered the nursing home she was partially blind and very hard of hearing. Yet, her fragile body denied her age as she would speed around the halls and outside with a red walker leading the way.  She was social. Her mind and spirit were sharp and she enjoyed people.  Still, the nursing home was not where she wanted to be.

One time on a visit, Mary was sitting on her bed doing leg lifts.  At 97 years old, I asked why the effort?  She said she needed to keep her strength up to walk. This made sense as she had experienced several falls while there.  Surprisingly, she confided that she intended to get out of the nursing home and she knew she wouldn’t if she was unable to walk. 

As days went by, we watched the light that had shined so brightly all her life began to dim. She quit her leg lifts.  She spent much of her time sleeping because there was nowhere to go.  Fewer friends visited.  My daughter played violin in the hallway as there was no place in her room.  There was no piano for my other daughter. We were always in the hallway. Finally, I couldn’t take it.  I complained to management, not about her care, which was good, but about the facility design and nonsense rules.

I later learned that my complaint was a watershed moment.  The nursing home wanted to do more and be more.  When Mary was 98 years of age, she did in fact walk out of the nursing home- she moved across the street into the Green House.

Mary Valentine celebrating her 100th birthday

It was amazing how suddenly, her life mattered again.  Mary picked out colors to paint her room. She selected furniture and was excited to have a small table with two chairs, lace table cloth, a tea set and photo album and pictures displayed. The French Impressionist art returned.  She had her own closet and wanted nice clothes. After all, she planned for visitors who came from all over the country not just locally.  She really enjoyed sleeping in and still having breakfast, sitting by the fireplace and having meals at a large, beautiful table while chatting with the shahbazim. We visited often and strolled through the neighborhood.  My mother brought her dog all the time.  My daughter played violin for all. We spent Christmas day there two years in a row with violin, serving prime rib (from a blender) and laughter. It was magical. Mary smiled, and laughed.  She bragged on the violinist.

Our family got to know Thomas and Monica, her shahbazim. My grandmother told me she felt bad that Thomas’s dog always fancied her over the others. (Thomas thought that was odd as yes the dog loved her but he said Mary wouldn’t ever let the dog leave her lap!)  Monica once took a dress home to iron so that Mary would not be wrinkled. Every night she donned a soft floral gown and was tucked into bed. The year of 2006 belonged to Mary. Mary celebrated her 100th birthday with a margarita and cigarette on the porch of the home with family and friends.  My mother too connected with the Green House, the shahbazim, and the elders in a deeply almost spiritual way.  When Mary passed on, we grieved with the elders and shahbazim. 

We continued to visit the Green House until all the elders we knew passed on. My mother was attached to this home.  There was a memorial event in honor of Mary the next year with a statue in the garden at that Green House bearing a likeness of my mother’s dog.  The Green House enabled Mary to live some of the happiest days of her life. These also some of the happiest days of my life and that of my mother, as we knew that Grandmother was cared for — deeply cared for.

Special thanks to Ann Frohman and her family for continuing to keep Mary’s light shining bright!

"The Heart of the Home"—Elders, families and staff endorse the Green House homes in New York

aka Catholic Health East Horizons

“We see far fewer elders struggling with behaviors, which we believe is a result of a quieter, calmer environment, increased privacy and a deeper knowing of the elders by staff who provide the care,” said James Farnan, administrator of Eddy Village Green.  In addition, Farnan says they have also seen a sustained reduction in falls among the elders living in the homes. 

The Eddy Village Green is located in Cohoes, New York and is comprised of 16 Green House homes.  It opened in 2008 and is home for 192 elders. 

Quality of life and quality of care are applauded by the families of elders at the Eddy.  Comments include how ‘attentive and compassionate all the staff were’ ‘Dad was so loved and so well cared for by everyone’, and one family wrote ‘The concept of the the individual houses for a small number of residents is wonderful; but it’s just a house unless you have people like the staff…who truly make it a home’. 

Read more about the homes that comprise the largest Green House home campus in the country.  The full story can be found on page 3 of the Spring 2012 edition of Catholic Health East HorizonsLet us know what you think!

 

“The Heart of the Home”—Elders, families and staff endorse the Green House homes in New York

aka Catholic Health East Horizons

“We see far fewer elders struggling with behaviors, which we believe is a result of a quieter, calmer environment, increased privacy and a deeper knowing of the elders by staff who provide the care,” said James Farnan, administrator of Eddy Village Green.  In addition, Farnan says they have also seen a sustained reduction in falls among the elders living in the homes. 

The Eddy Village Green is located in Cohoes, New York and is comprised of 16 Green House homes.  It opened in 2008 and is home for 192 elders. 

Quality of life and quality of care are applauded by the families of elders at the Eddy.  Comments include how ‘attentive and compassionate all the staff were’ ‘Dad was so loved and so well cared for by everyone’, and one family wrote ‘The concept of the the individual houses for a small number of residents is wonderful; but it’s just a house unless you have people like the staff…who truly make it a home’. 

Read more about the homes that comprise the largest Green House home campus in the country.  The full story can be found on page 3 of the Spring 2012 edition of Catholic Health East HorizonsLet us know what you think!

 

Video: Larry Minnix, CEO of Leading Age, speaks about the high standards for long-term care he experienced while visiting The Leonard Florence Center for Living

Larry Minnix of LeadingAge visits The Green House Homes at The Leonard Florence Center for Living in Chelsea, MA.

Watch the below video to hear Larry’s insights and reflections related to this innovation for adults living with ALS and MS.
 

Wisconsin nursing home associations ask for state to expand incentives to replace aging facilites—Green House homes are a prime example

via Wisconsin State Journal 

“It’s the spice of life!” that’s how 80 year old Henry Hintz describes living in a Green House home in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. 

Nursing homes, traditionally marked by long, institutional corridors designed to be efficient for staff are ungoing a culture change across the country and Green House homes are a prime example for the industry.  In Wisconsin, 10 elders live in each of the two homes where breakfast is made to order and all share the meal at one table just steps away from a common area that includes a fireplace and reclining chairs.

“That’s where we want to be,” said Keith Vanlanduyt, a vice president of Oakwood Village, which plans to replace or renovate its 100 bed nursing home, but with land and financial restrictions wonders “how close can we get to that?”

That’s why two nursing home associations have asked the state to expand incentives to replace or remodel aging facilities.  Read more about their efforts and tell us what you think!

Snapshot of The Green House Project

What would you need if you had to move into a nursing home tomorrow?

Some people would say, ‘my coffee in the morning!’, some would say, “access to the outdoors’, some would say, ‘I need people to know me’. The Green House Project is a radically new, national model for skilled nursing care that returns control and a sense of well being to elders, their families and direct care staff.

 This 4 minute video takes you into 4 open and operating Green House homes, where you can hear elders and staff talk about their experience.Seeing is Believing, and viewing this video is a good way to gain insight into how The Green House Project transforms the environment, philosophy and organization of traditional Long Term Care, to create a home.

An “Administration for Community Living”? Yes, but…

Last month, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sibelius announced the merging of the offices for Aging, Disability, and Developmental Disabilites, to form one new agency. This “Administration for Community Living” is designed, in the Secretary’s words, “to help ensure that the supports people with disabilities and seniors need to live in the community are accessible.” She goes on to say that the term “support” includes not only health care, but also appropriate housing, employment, education, meaningful relationships, and social participation.”

Much of the description is encouraging, and the efforts of organziations like the Eden Alternative to change the culture of aging, both in nursing homes and the community, seem well-aligned. One advantage of the alliance of aging with disability agencies is that it may encourage a broader view of the capabilities of people with dementia or age-related disorders to be included in meaningful ways. The comments about social participation for elders, with or without dementia, are most welcome.

At the same time, I have some misgivings. The concept has many positive features, but it’s tricky terrain to navigate in light of our history of aging in America, and things could easily go the wrong way.

First, the pairing of aging with disability may enhance our tendency to see aging as decline, and further medicalize this stage of life for all elders. Along with that “declinist” view come all the trappings of disempowerment and stigmatization that have led us to where we are today.

Second, full social participation is a great concept, but goes strongly against what our society has done for the past several decades. Is this a feel-good statement, or are we ready to pursue this in an honest manner? Are we ready to bring elders to the tables of our communities–even if they don’t have a job title or position power, even if they live with some forgetfulness–and truly listen to what they have to say?

The third issue is a larger one that I explored during my time away with my friend Emi Kiyota, which I’ll be addressing in future posts as well. That is the idea that aging has become a commodity in our society. Older people are seen primarily as consumers of services that are designed by others, for them. An entire industry has been built around this and in doing so, has marginalized elders and repositioned them as needing care and services, creating excess disability.

A prime example of this is the way in which we have sunk untold millions of dollars into senior living communities, rather than redesigning neighborhoods to be more accessible and inclusive. Are we ready to reverse this trend to create true community integration?

Lastly, Secretary Sibelius’ opening statement said (with my emphasis): “All Americans–including people with disabilities and seniors–should be able to live at home with the supports they need, participating in communities that value their contributions–rather than in nursing homes or other instituions.” Strong words. But does this mean aging in community, or aging in place?

Is there true community participation and reciprocity, where others will “value their contributions”, or is this simply housing that becomes a de facto “separate but equal” situation, due to a lack of accessibility for all? Will there be community gathering places that are truly multi-generational, or will the elders only have a “senior center” nearby for their use? Will the elders be consulted and engaged for their wisdom and experience, or will they simply be served by the other generations? One solution is affordable for society and empowering for elders–the other is neither.

(Parenthetically, I gave two talks last week at local community centers. Both had a “Senior Citizen Room”. That is not inclusion.)

This is the time to raise these issues, and this new agency will hopefully spur much more discussion of these topics. Our aging demographics demand it.

Tell us what you think!

Read more posts like this on the Allen Power blog at Chagingaging.org.

SB 1228 could allow for more "kinder, gentler" person-centered care facilities to be built in California

via 89.3FM KPCC

“[Green House Homes offer] an individually tailored environment and experience so someone doesn’t feel as if they’re trapped in a long, pale green hallway of an institution” says Gary Passmore, Vice President and Director of the Congress of California Seniors, which supports a bill being introduced in California by Democratic Senator Elaine Alquist.  The bill, SB 1228, would provide a new licensing category so more person-centered care facilities can operate in the state of California.

To read more about the positive impact the SB 1228 bill will make in the state of California and for additional commentary from Gary Passmore, click here.

Tell us what you think about this exciting new development in California Legislature!

SB 1228 could allow for more “kinder, gentler” person-centered care facilities to be built in California

via 89.3FM KPCC

“[Green House Homes offer] an individually tailored environment and experience so someone doesn’t feel as if they’re trapped in a long, pale green hallway of an institution” says Gary Passmore, Vice President and Director of the Congress of California Seniors, which supports a bill being introduced in California by Democratic Senator Elaine Alquist.  The bill, SB 1228, would provide a new licensing category so more person-centered care facilities can operate in the state of California.

To read more about the positive impact the SB 1228 bill will make in the state of California and for additional commentary from Gary Passmore, click here.

Tell us what you think about this exciting new development in California Legislature!

AARP Texas urges state officials to ease financial restraints and urge developers to build more Green House homes

Sagecrest Alzheimer's Care Center in San Angelo, Texas

via Texas AARP

“The state supports a culture change” in institutional care that would allow more Green house homes in Texas, says Chris Traylor, commissioner of the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services.

Elders and family members are extremely pleased with the care offered at the Sagecrest Alzheimer’s Care Center in San Angelo, Texas, a Green House home project.  Many wish there were more homes being built, but money is the issue.  Texas Medicaid reimbursement is among the lowest in the country, and two-thirds of Texas elders in nursing homes get help from Medicaid.  AARP Texas advocacy manager, Amanda Fredriksen, says those rates largely determine “what Texas nursing homes look like.”

Read more about a Medicaid reimbursement rate that would encourage more Green House homes in Texas…and then tell us what YOU think!

 

Highlighting The Green House Project Team: Lisa Maxwell, Project Guide

Lisa visited her first nursing home when she was 12 years old.  She was playing violin at the time with a youth orchestra, and her mother thought playing for the residents would be “good practice” for her.  It turns out that it was VERY good practice for her, because Lisa has spent the vast majority of her career in aging services.

She vividly remembers that first visit to the nursing home; she loved the smiles and gratitude from the elders, but didn’t enjoy the institutional feel or smells associated with the home.  While attending the University of Texas Lisa was again in a nursing home setting, but this time as a CNA.  Those experiences helped her realize that the traditional model of skilled nursing care needed to change, and she began her journey to support person-centered care and ultimately to oversee the development, construction and operation of two Green House homes.

Today, as a Project Guide for THE GREEN HOUSE ® Project, Lisa is excited to be part of the team and share her knowledge of the model with potential and current adopters.

  • Administrator and Guide—The Village of Redford, two Green House-10 bed homes
  • Master’s degree in Business Administration, an undergraduate degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing
  • Licensed Nursing Home Administrator – largest facility 556 Skilled Nursing home
  • 14 years of experience in a variety of positions in Skilled Nursing and CCRC’s
  • Entrepreneur & Business Plan Development expertise

In addition, while Lisa was in Michigan she was an active member of the education task force for LeadingAge Michigan.

Lisa thoroughly enjoys cooking and has quite a collection of pots, pans and utensils for her craft!  She enjoys international travel and watching TV game shows.