Green House Blog

Green House model creator, Dr. Bill Thomas, to be honored by The Long Term Care Community Coalition

Green House model creator, Dr. Bill Thomas,”an international authority on geriatric medicine and eldercare”, will be honored by The Long Term Care Coalition in a fundraiser to benefit the coalition. The theme of this year’s fundraiser, “improving the lives of nursing home residents and changing the way we think about the elderly”, is a perfect backdrop to Dr. Thomas’ message that it can be different!

The Long Term Care Community Coalition (LTCCC) is a group devoted to improving care for the elderly and disabled. Their work centers around work to ensure that long term care consumers, who are often very vulnerable, are cared for safely and treated with dignity.

The Green House model, created to be a place where Dr. Thomas’ Eden Alternative Principles can thrive, is a living testement to the goals of the coalition. By simultaneously transforming the philosophy, environment and organizational structures of traditional long term care, real power is shifted to the elder and those working closest to them.

To learn more about the coalition and the fundraiser, click here.

Sarah Neuman reported as "Nursing Home of The Future"

Sarah Neuman, is a Green House Project with a long history of culture change, “The initiative is an outgrowth of our cultural change,” said Lisa Feiner, chair of the Sarah Neuman board.  In this recent article, in The Patch online newspapre, the project in Westchester County, NY, is upheld as revolutionary,

 Based on the teachings of Dr. Bill Thomas, a geriatrician whose Eden Alternative philosophy teaches that “aging should be a continued state of development and growth, rather than a period of decline,” the Sarah Neuman nursing home in Mamaroneck plans to build a free standing set of buildings modeled after Thomas’ Green House Project, which will address what Thomas says are the basic problems affecting nursing home residents: loneliness, boredom and helplessness.

In a poignant quote from a National Public Radio (NPR) interview in 2005, Thomas said, “I believe that in the nursing home every year, thousands and thousands of people die of a broken heart. They die not so much because their organs fail, but because their grip on life has failed.”

To read the full article, click here

 

 

Sarah Neuman reported as “Nursing Home of The Future”

Sarah Neuman, is a Green House Project with a long history of culture change, “The initiative is an outgrowth of our cultural change,” said Lisa Feiner, chair of the Sarah Neuman board.  In this recent article, in The Patch online newspapre, the project in Westchester County, NY, is upheld as revolutionary,

 Based on the teachings of Dr. Bill Thomas, a geriatrician whose Eden Alternative philosophy teaches that “aging should be a continued state of development and growth, rather than a period of decline,” the Sarah Neuman nursing home in Mamaroneck plans to build a free standing set of buildings modeled after Thomas’ Green House Project, which will address what Thomas says are the basic problems affecting nursing home residents: loneliness, boredom and helplessness.

In a poignant quote from a National Public Radio (NPR) interview in 2005, Thomas said, “I believe that in the nursing home every year, thousands and thousands of people die of a broken heart. They die not so much because their organs fail, but because their grip on life has failed.”

To read the full article, click here

 

 

VA Illiana Health Care Campus Shares A Balloon Launch To Remember

“The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion…”

-President Abraham Lincoln in The Gettysburg Address, 1863

Abraham Lincoln’s speech is a reminder of the sacrifice so many have made for our freedom.  It certainly influenced Drusilla (Dru) Ford in her decision to work with veterans at the Freedom House on the VA Illiana Health Care (VAIHC) campus in Danville, Illinois.  Furthermore, serving veterans is a way for Dru to honor her father who fought in World War II.

Across the VAIHC campus, it is important that every veteran is honored and remembered for their service to this country.  When someone passes away, the American flag is draped across his or her bed and personal mementos are displayed in the room.  Family, friends and staff have time to reflect, grieve and celebrate with each another.  “When someone passes away” stated Dru, “it truly feels like I have lost a family member.” 

Building strong, intimate relationships with each veteran is one of the most rewarding aspects of her job as a Shahbaz.  In her own family, it is a ritual to launch balloons shortly after an individual passes away.  She presented this idea to both Green House homes and on July 4th, the first balloon launching ceremony commenced.  Veterans shared stories and sang God Bless America.  It was such a memorable experience that the veterans asked that this become a standing ritual in both Green House homes.

Embracing Elderhood Changes Lives Across Generations

By Laura Beck on September 13, 2012

At last week’s Green House Annual Meeting in Grand Rapids, Mich., I had the opportunity to introduce Green House adopters to Embracing Elderhood, an Eden Alternative initiative that brings volunteers, age 16 and older, together with Elders through the power of story

There is an African saying that equates the passing of an Elder to the loss of a library.  This proverb is the inspiration behind Embracing Elderhood and the notion that to truly care for someone, you must have a deeper understanding and appreciation of who they are.  On November 15th and 16th, The Eden Alternative will offer Embracing Elderhood Guide Certification to Green Houses and other organizations to help make legacy creation  an integral part of their community culture.

Part life story and part gift in the form of whatever an Elder wishes to offer future generations, legacies highlight and celebrate Elders as unique individuals, provide meaningful engagement for all, and answer important questions about our own lives.

When Elders are encouraged to share their legacies, we strike a blow against any potential sense of helplessness and isolation and reclaim their vital societal role.  In a healthy human community, this precious balance between giving and receiving across generations is essential. Every effort to weave Elders back into the social fabric of our communities – even one relationship at a time – is another step toward promoting a vision of Elderhood as a valued phase of human development, rather than just the decline of life.

Organizations tell us all of the time that they already ‘do’ Elder stories.  What we’ve learned, though, is that legacy creation, at its best, is much more about the process, than it is the outcome.

Years ago, I had the opportunity to talk to some young people who’d been handed a list of questions and told to sit with an older stranger and get some answers.  These youth shared later that they had no idea why they were there and why they were doing this.  The Elders, in turn, stated that they didn’t know why they were being asked all of these personal questions.  Without a sense of purpose behind their actions, neither walked away touched in any particularly meaningful way.

Knowing WHY an Elder’s legacy has value is the first vital step toward successful legacy creation.  Given the right tools and perspective upfront, participants are often surprised by how deeply they are positively affected by the experience in the end.

Meredith, a 12th grade Embracing Elderhood Recording Partner from Charlottesville, VA, said, “This experience has completely changed the way I think about being an Elder. It helped me to understand that Elders don’t just live in the past. They still have the desire to learn, great senses of humor, and important lives to live.”

Meredith, like all volunteer Recording Partners, began her Embracing Elderhood journey in a 1-day training that introduces participants to culture change ideals.  Through the scope of the Eden Alternative’s Ten Principles, Embracing Elderhood Guides  teach Recording Partners person-directed concepts and techniques designed to create meaningful partnerships with their Elder Storytellers.  The interactive workshop emphasizes the power of story, the impact of ageism, redefining Elderhood, balancing “being” and “doing,” and appropriate communication and companionship building skills.

Recording Partners also learn how to drive an online template for legacy creation, which is just prescriptive enough for them to focus their attention on the relationship they are building with their Storyteller, while leaving room for creative license.  From there, each Recording Team, composed of a Recording Partner and a Storyteller, receives on-going mentorship from their Embracing Elderhood Guide, who is prepared to support each team’s legacy creation process.

Dr. Bill Thomas suggests that “acknowledging and embracing the idea of Elder-richness and strengthening the exchange between the generations can improve quality of life for all ages.” While the participation of youth tends to pique most people’s interest in Embracing Elderhood, Recording Partners can be as young as 16 and as old as they want to be.

This, coupled with the fact that any kind of organization can begin an ongoing Embracing Elderhood initiative, offers flexibility and the opportunity to help create a new vision of aging that calls on everyone to play a part in bringing it to life.

Porter Hills Green House homes awarded 2012 Goodwill Industries Power of Work Innovator of the Year

Porter Hills Green House® Homes is honored to be awarded the 2012 Goodwill Industries Power of Work Innovator of the Year Award. Porter Hills has partnered with Goodwill Industries for 15 years to provide individuals with Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) training. When the Green House® Homes opened three years ago, Sue Kinney the CNA Program Manager and Instructor approached Cheryl VanBemden, Guide, about offering clinical training opportunities in the GHH. Sue believed exposing students to the traditional nursing home model and the Green House® Homes would provide greater opportunities for success to both students of Goodwill and Porter Hills. Porter Hills has hired 12 Goodwill graduates and continues to employ 11 of the individuals. Greg Booth is one of the graduates of Goodwill Industries. Greg exemplifies the character of individuals we desire to employ. He made a decision to change his career path and utilize the training program through Goodwill because of the support provided. Greg has been employed at Porter Hills for just over a year, and it has truly been a rewarding relationship for everyone involved. We are thankful to have partners like Goodwill to assist in giving back to our community and helping others succeed.

The 'Porter Hills Singers' Get To Know Us

This year’s Annual Meeting and Celebration was filled with many celebrations and growing together as we learned to create true meaningful life and engagement.  This year we were incredibly fortunate to be graced with the beautiful music of The Porter Hills Singers.  This incredibly talented group of elders sang us familiar tunes that really got the crowd engaged by encouraging us all to sing along!  We were all left with smiles on our faces and music in our ears that continued throughout the rest of the Annual Meeting and Celebration.  Thank you Porter Hills Singers!

Video streaming by Ustream

The ‘Porter Hills Singers’ Get To Know Us

This year’s Annual Meeting and Celebration was filled with many celebrations and growing together as we learned to create true meaningful life and engagement.  This year we were incredibly fortunate to be graced with the beautiful music of The Porter Hills Singers.  This incredibly talented group of elders sang us familiar tunes that really got the crowd engaged by encouraging us all to sing along!  We were all left with smiles on our faces and music in our ears that continued throughout the rest of the Annual Meeting and Celebration.  Thank you Porter Hills Singers!

Video streaming by Ustream

Dr. Bill Thomas Challenges Us To Be Storytellers

“You are part of a global re-imagination of aging—a re-imagination of life beyond adulthood—a re-imagination of Elderhood!”  That was just one message from Green House model founder, Dr. Bill Thomas.  He also stressed the importance of filling each home with stories, but to do that you must “tell the story”!  Dr. Thomas challenged the Shahbazim to be the story teller.  “If something happens to you, you need to “tell the story” when you are back in the Green House home.  It’s all part of meaningful life, meaningful engagement—the theme for this year’s conference.  Find out what other critical elements are needed in a Green House home by clicking the play button below!

Video streaming by Ustream

The Green House Business Case, Improving Lives and Bottom Lines 9/14 @ 3:00p

Join us this Friday, September 14th at 3:00PM EST, to learn how The Green House Model improves lives and bottom lines! CLICK HERE to sign up for the free webinar!

Since the first Green House homes opened in 2003, THE GREEN HOUSE® PROJECT has worked on the leading edge of deep culture change to evolve and gain momentum throughout the country. We are pleased that there are Green House homes in many states. To see a complete list of Green House homes, by state, click here. The Green House model is a values and evidence based model, which creates flexibility to amplify each organization’s unique mission, while achieving positive outcomes.

The Green House model creates a real home, as a family member noted, “It looks like you’re walking into a living room. There is always someone cooking and it smells good. It’s a homey, warm setting. If I’m not there, the next best thing is on the other side of the door. They are there for her as quick as I am.” The stories and the research show that this model creates a high quality of care and a quality of life for those who are living and working in The Green House homes. The question has still remained, however, that if it is that much better, doesn’t it have to cost more?

The Green House Business Case was created to answer this question. This piece consists of a high level brochure that gives talking points to the champion of the model, the full report of The Business Case, which is created to speak directly to the CFO of the organization, and the video, which highlights our adopters and their experience of The Green House Project as a wise business investment. The Green House model makes sense not only from a quality of life perspective, but also from a business perspective. Operating a Green House home can increase occupancy and revenue while keeping costs the same, compared to a traditional nursing home.

Key Findings:

Increased occupancy rates. Compared to traditional nursing homes, Green House homes have higher occupancy rates–across private pay residents, Medicare residents and overall. “People will travel from near and far to come here,” says Betsy Mullen, executive director of the Leonard Florence Center for Living in Boston. For organizations that have implemented The Green House model, nursing home occupancy rates have increased an average of 6.5 percent overall while private pay days increased 24 percent.

Increased revenues. Research shows that 61 percent of caregivers would pay more to have their family members live in a Green House home, with two-thirds of those caregivers willing to pay 10 percent to 25 percent more. When family members see a Green House home, that is where they want their loved ones to live.

Operating costs at or below average level. Operating costs are more or less the same in a Green House home as they are in a traditional nursing home. Although staffing costs are higher for direct care in a Green House home, these increases are offset by cost reductions in supervisory and administrative staffing.

CLICK HERE to watch The Green House Business Case video and sign up for our FREE webinar

Business Case – Partnering with the Green House Project from The Green House Project on Vimeo.

 

Sneak Peak: Green House 10th Anniversary Trailer– coming to a community near you 2013!

Click here to view The Green House Project 10th Anniversary Trailer. Creating Real Home, Meaningful Lives and Empowered Staff– Coming to a Community Near You– 2013!!

The 5th Annual Green House Meeting and Celebration, a huge success!

“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.