Green House Blog

Leadership and Vision

If you are reading this blog post, three things are clear: You are an innovative leader, who values elders, and you have a definite vision for a better tomorrow.

So, I begin with the most important message: Thank you.
From a leadership perspective, you are driven by governing values, have a clear image of a positive future and have the foundation to take action and be effective.

As leaders in our community, we know 10,000 of our friends, family members and neighbors will turn age 65 every day for the next 19 years! What a blessing it is to be able to tap the energy, insight and expertise of Boomers as they become our elders! And what a challenge it will be to adapt care in terms of financing, engagement and wellness.

My life experience in the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors, working with our treasured elders, has helped me to identify several attributes of effective leaders that will be essential to our professional success going forward.

In creating communities of care inside and outside of centers, effective leaders will recognize the importance of and study effective techniques in communication and negotiation that puts people first, places shared interest over individual position, and separates a person from the problem or challenge with which they are identified.

These concepts of negotiation come from the hallmark text, Getting to Yes by Harvard scholars Roger Fisher and William Ury. For leaders working in a public/private intersecting space with features of home, hospital and community, and with varied voices of community members, families, staff teams, funders and regulators, negotiation is most certainly a necessary core competency for success.

Leaders know the importance of identifying crucial conversations as the intersection between opposing opinions, strong emotions and high stakes – as outlined by the authors Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McLillan and Al Switzler in their powerful book of the same title. In the early pages of Crucial Conversations, the authors begin by offering important and powerful tools of dialogue – shared meaning, active listening, and starting from, instead of avoiding, the heart and emotion – to identify, and successfully navigate crucial conversations.

Today and tomorrow, effective leaders engaged in realizing the opportunities and overcoming the challenges of an aging America will study and work to not avoid crucial conversations with community members, families, employees, teams, and regulators (to name just a few in our broad circle of influence).

As Jack Welch and his wife Suzy point out in their book Winning, effective leaders recognize that “before you are a leader, success is about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is about growing others.” Effective leaders in aging America recognize it is critical to learn from and nurture leaders in care, to grow leaders on staff and community teams, and to recognize the positive influence we can all have on other leaders in the broadest sense of community.

As leaders in our important work of helping elders to be as engaged, well, healthy and safe as they want and are able, we have a tremendous opportunity in our professional communities to envision and make the business case for sustainable care enterprises, whether for- or not-for-profit.

Effective leaders negotiate by putting people first, recognize and have crucial conversations, help others to grow as leaders and focus on all that connects us instead of that which separates us.

Steve McAlilly of Tupelo, Mississippi is this sort of effective, passionate and powerfully impacting leader. Steve can be counted among a handful of gifted leaders in our community of, for- and not-for-profit, large and small, government, private and philanthropic businesses, associations and scholars, who are working to guide us to a better tomorrow.

Our elder community is expanding exponentially. Green House homes have made a tremendous difference in the lives of real people. As long as we all put people first and recognize the various tangible and intrinsic values in caring, there is room for, and value in, various models of care and community.

About Joe:
Joseph DeMattos, Jr., is the CEO of the Health Facilities Association of Maryland (HFAM), Maryland’s oldest and largest nationally affiliated provider association representing skilled nursing, transitional, rehabilitative and long term care providers. Prior to joining HFAM DeMattos worked in the leadership of AARP in Hawai’i, in its national office in Washington DC., and in Maryland.

DeMattos holds Masters Degree in Government from Johns Hopkins University and is an Adjunct Professor of Leadership at the University of Maryland Baltimore County Erickson School for the Management of Aging Studies. He has over 30 years of professional experience in labor, government, the private sector, and in association management with a focus on health care policy. He can be reached at

Older Americans Month, "What is special about Green House homes?"… in 3 words

To celebrate Older American’s Month, we asked Green House homes around the country to send us a photograph of  “What makes Green House homes so special?” in 3 words.

Click here to see the album that was created from their responses.  In these photos we see illustrations of family, love, meaning and above all, HOME!  While we asked for 3 words, these photos are truly worth 1000 words!

Embracing Late-Life Development

Last month, The Washington Post  published an article which revealed that many Americans are in denial when it comes to thinking about the long-term care services and supports they will need as they age. The Post reports that according to a recent poll, two thirds of people over the age of 40 have done little if any planning for elderhood. In fact, 3 in 10 adults in this age group prefer not to think about aging at all.

Despite widespread denial, the facts remain clear; we will all age and advanced planning for long-term care needs are necessary. The article confirms this stating, “Government figures show nearly 7 in 10 Americans will need long-term care at some point after they reach age 65, whether it’s from a relative, a home health aide, assisted living or a nursing home. On average, they’ll need that care for three years.”

In a society where traditional models of long-term care can feel more like impersonal hospitals than real homes, it is understandable that Americans reject the need to think about the care they will need as they age.

Luckily, new models of long-term care like THE GREEN HOUSE® Project, encourage acceptance of aging as a stage of late-life development that is characterized by growth, autonomy and purposeful living. Based on the three core values of Meaningful Life, Empowered Staff and Real Home, Green House homes are designed as a sanctuary where elders thrive and find meaning in late life.

Unlike a traditional nursing home model, 10-12 elders live in a Green House home and they enjoy the aspects of a real home including, private rooms, home-cooked meals and an easy to navigate design. The direct care staff, known as Shahbazim, are empowered as a self-managed work team, providing care in a flattened organizational hierarchy. Finally, meaningful life is considered every person’s right in the Green House home and choice, control, autonomy and close relationships are just some of the ways that this is achieved.

There are 146 Green House homes open in 23 states with an additional 123 in development. Click here to find a Green House home near you!

Social Media "Tweet" Sheet for the 10th Anniversary Event

Tweets about #Tupelo10

Below are a few sample Tweets about the celebration in Tupelo, Mississippi for the 10 year anniversary of Green House homes. You can just cut and paste a sample to spread the word.

If you want to create your own Tweets, just use the hash tag #Tupelo10 to join the conversation. You can also tag The Green House Project at @GreenHouse_Proj

  • @Greenhouse_Proj celebrates 10 years today of the first Green House homes in Tupelo, MS! Share your favorite things about GHP at #Tupelo10
  • 10 years and going strong! Happy Birthday to The Green House model #Tupelo10
  • Here’s to 10 years of Real Home, Meaningful and Empowered Staff! Happy Anniversary Green House homes! #Tupelo 10
  • For 10 years, The Green House model has been bringing Elders home. What makes a real home? Share your story #Tupelo10
  • Protect, sustain and nurture. Thank you for 10 years of love, care and fun to all the Shahbazim of The Green House homes! #Tupelo10
  • Happy 10 year anniversary to The Green House. Elders Rule! #Tupelo10
  • What began 10 years ago in Tupelo is spreading across the country: 32 states in dev. and counting! What a decade @GreenHouse_Proj #Tupelo10
  • All the best wishes to The Green House homes and the Elders in Tupelo, Mississippi! Happy Anniversary @GreenHouse_Proj #Tupelo10

Facebook Posts @TheGreenHouseProject

Below are a few sample Facebook posts in celebration of The Green House Project 10 year anniversary and the celebration taking place in Tupelo, Mississippi. You can just cut and paste a sample into your facebook page to share the news along with photos of your project!

Tag the Green House Project in your own posts by typing @TheGreenHouseProject into the post. You can share what makes The Green House special to you, or just say Happy 10 year anniversary!

  • Happy 10 year Anniversary @TheGreenHouseProject! Our Elders say Green House is ___,____,_____ (enter your 3 words). What does Green House mean to you?
  • Happy 10th Anniversary @TheGreenHouseProject! It’s hard to believe it has already been 10 years since the first homes were built in Tupelo, Mississippi. Time flies when you are having fun!
  • 10 years ago the first Green House homes in Tupelo, Mississippi started a revolution: Elders Rule! Congratulations @TheGreenHouseProject and cheers to many more years!
  • Today there is a celebration in Tupelo Mississippi to mark the 10th Anniversary of The Green House. What better way to celebrate than with a barbeque where it all began? Happy 10th Anniversary @TheGreenHouseProject! We are celebrating with you!
  • 10 years ago the first Green House homes were opened in Tupelo, Mississippi. See how they paved the way for 146 homes in 23 statesto open their doors to Elders across the country since then!
  •  Happy 10th Anniversary @TheGreenHouseProject!

Looking to market your Green House homes?

Wondering how to market your new or existing Green House homes?  Our friends from the Mennonite Home Communities of Ohio have a creative “one-pager” to describe their homes.

This flyer is packed with critical information about THE GREEN HOUSE® model, the unique design of their homes, as well as the philosophy behind the meaningful life Elders will enjoy in their homes.  Click here to take a look!

May marks 10 years Since The First Green House Homes Opened Their Doors

It has been 10 years since Mississippi Methodist Senior Services in Tupelo, MS opened the first Green House project in the country. Throughout May, The Green House Project will celebrate this pioneering organization, and the revolution that they sparked. On Sunday, May 5, there was a block party to celebrate this milestone, with Green House team members and Dr. Bill Thomas in attendance. Check out the photos here and Follow us on twitter at #Tupelo10.  

Steve McAlilly, the visionary leader who believed in The Green House model and brought it to his organization tells a story about its impact:

There was a retired methodist preacher who had Alzheimer’s. He lived in our Alzheimer’s unit in the old ward. He had an eight-year-old grandson who refused to come see him in that environment. His parents couldn’t get him to go see his grandaddy. His disease was so advanced he wasn’t awake but 4 hours a day. But he was one of the first people in the world to move into green house. People would ask what is he going to get out of it? He’s barely awake, has to be fed. But we believed that bringing him to the hearth, to the supper table, something would get through and it would make a difference.

So every day the Shahbazim would get him dressed and bring him to the table. Before too long he was awake again, and his grandson would come back to see him. He came to see his grandaddy so much he knew the name of every elder and every Shahbaz in the house. If that’s the only thing we did we can say it’s worth it. Whatever sweat and tears we had it was worth it.

The Homes that Sparked a Revolution

The 10 year celebration of The Traceway Green House homes in Tupelo, MS, is this Sunday (Follow us #Tupelo10), and The Daily Journal of Northeast Mississippi published an article to tell their robust story. The Tupelo story has had a ripple effect to touch thousands of people over the last decade, “Conceived as a way to deliver skilled nursing care on a human scale that empowered elders and their caregivers, Traceway was the first place in the nation to take the model to reality.”

Traceway is the project that sparked a revolution of a new way to deliver long term care. Currently 32 states have Green House homes open or in development, and that number continues to grow. Nearly everyone, from providers to consumers to policy makers know about The Green House model, and the impact that it can have for elders in their community, “In the Green House environment, there are more relationships,” said Jerry South, executive director for Traceway Retirement Community. “You don’t see those in a traditional nursing home environment.”

People have been impacted by the Tupelo story around the world, and in states as far away as Alaska.  Patty Foldager is the guide for the Seward Mountain Haven Green House homes. When she was learning about The Green House model, she remembers being blown away at the calm way a Shahbaz fixed an egg for a late-riser and then shared an orange with another elder. “This looks nothing like a long-term care center,” she remembers thinking during her visit.

Indeed, this is more than an incremental change, “It’s not just a fresh coat of paint,” said Susan Frazier, the national Green House Project, chief operating officer. “We’re going to change the way folks will age in long-term care in America.”

To read the full article, click here.  Follow us on Twitter this Sunday, #Tupelo10 for live updates of the 10th anniversary block party in Tupelo, MS