Green House Blog

Living the Life You Love in The Green House home

Cheryl Van Bemdem is the guide at Porter Hills in Grand Rapids, MI.  She is speaking at The Green House Annual Meeting, a gathering exclusive to Green House adopters, on the value of The Peer Network.  The Green House Project is comprised of organizations around the country who are leaders in long term care.  Being a part of The Peer Network means becoming a part of something that is bigger than yourself.  Not only are you investing in a proven brand known for clinical quality, satisfaction and a strong business case, but also in a national platform that will amplify your mission.  See below for a blog post that Cheryl wrote in 2012 about an elder who lived a meaningul life in The Green House homes:

When Helen moved into The Green House homes, we found out that she has always been a hostess, and that she loved to plan parties. Her favorite party to plan was on the 4th of July so when she moved here, she asked if she could have the party here. Of course we said yes!

She sent out elaborate invitations to all the elders, their family, the staff and her friends…Since the RSVPs went to her, we were not totally sure how many guests to expect! 150 people ended up attending her party, and She planned the whole thing with some assistance from her family.

Since this memorable party, Helen’s health has declined, and she is now supported on hospice, but even so, she continues to plan parties with the shahbazim and other members of the home. It is important that she is able to continue doing what is meaningful to her in the present and we love hearing about all the parties she had in the past (ex. the pool party where some guests “lost” their bathing suits!).


Dr. Bill Thomas and Beth Baker Discuss 7th Annual Green House Conference

The theme of the 7th Annual Green House Meeting and Celebration this November in Memphis is Leading with Heart and Soul. We are excited to have both Dr. Bill Thomas and freelance journalist and author Beth Baker as our opening and closing plenary speakers, respectively. We caught up with Bill and Beth at The Pioneer Network’s 14th Annual Conference in Kansas City, Missouri to hear more about what Leading with Heart and Soul means to them.

“It means bringing passion into what you do, believing in it…” Dr. Thomas began, going on to say that we all have a moral imperative to help people find new ways to live in the community, including those living with frailty and dementia.

Beth agreed and added that leading with heart and soul is honoring a person’s desire for independence and autonomy as well as their need to balance this with strong relationships and connection to a greater community. For Beth this is what interdependence is all about and will be a key theme of her closing plenary.

“In Green House homes it is interdependence that defines the relationship between Shahbazim and Elders,” Dr. Thomas concluded. “People in each group need each other. Being a part of a community means that we need each other.”

Visit our Facebook page to see a video from this discussion and hear more from Bill and Beth at our Annual Meeting this November at The Peabody Memphis in TN. Green House adopters can register here:

End of Life Experience in Long Term Care

Providing pain and symptom management along with religious, spiritual and emotional support can create the conditions for a good death.  In order to do this, a deep knowing of the individual is paramount.  But too often in skilled nursing settings, this is not the case.

In fact, a recent survey by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) has found that traditional nursing homes were lowest ranked for end of life care experience when compared with home care and hospital settings.  The survey is a pilot right now but it will be officially launched by CMS in 2015 in an effort to provide better information to elders and their family members about hospice programs in their area.

The Green House model creates environments that support a meaningful end of life experience.  The Green House “home for life” philosophy, combined with the small number of elders in a home, and consistent staffing, leads to deep relationships.  In this setting, as an elder nears the end of their life, their desires and preferences are clear and respected.  End of life care is a time of honor and reverence in The Green House model.  Read this granddaughter’s experience at Tabitha Health Care in Lincoln, NE.   The Green House Project has placed an emphasis on end of life care, and has worked with adopters of the model to develop resources and guidance for the end of life that respect the needs of the individual, other elders in the home, support staff and families.



The Historic Peabody Memphis Hotel

We are excited that The Peabody Memphis Hotel is the host site of our 7th Annual Green House Meeting and Celebration this November for adopters of the Green House model!  What is so special about this hotel? The Peabody, a AAA Four-Diamond, Forbes Four-Star hotel, has served its guests with Southern hospitality since 1869. The hotel was built in theheart of downtown Memphis making it an ideal location for exploring historic sites and immersing yourself in the barbecue, blues and rock ‘n’ roll that define Memphis culture.

And then there’s the ducks.

Legend of The Peabody Ducks

In the 1930s, Frank Schutt, General Manager of The Peabody, and a friend, Chip Barwick, came back from an Arkansas hunting trip. They had a bit too much to drink and thought it would be funny to put their live duck decoys in the beautiful Peabody fountain. Three small English call ducks were used and the reaction was enthusiastic. Soon, five North American Mallard ducks replaced the originals.

In 1940, Bellman Edward Pembroke, a former circus animal trainer, offered to assist with delivering the ducks to the fountain each day, teaching them the now-famous Peabody Duck March. Mr. Pembroke became the Peabody Duckmaster and held that role for 50 years.

After nearly 80 years, the marble fountain in the Peabody lobby is still graced with ducks that march at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily.

As our 7th Annual Meeting and Celebration quickly approaches, we look forward to spending time with our adopters learning and growing at this historic landmark. And of course, we are looking for a volunteer Duckmaster for our time there to lead the daily duck march with heart and soul.


The Woodlands at John Knox Village: Construction is underway for new Green House homes in southern Florida

The sunshine state lived up to its name when groundbreaking ceremonies took place on July 18th for 12 new Green House homes at John Knox Village (JKV) in Pompano Beach, Florida.

The event was a true celebration with approximately 350 Elders, local government officials, staff and leadership from JKV attending the event.

Susan Frazier, Chief Operating Officer of THE GREEN HOUSE® Project told the attendees, “We are here today to embrace something incredible.  The essence of the Green House model is not only to provide a real home for Elders, but to fill these homes with warmth and empower staff to create a loving environment.”

The Woodlands at JKV will feature six floors with two Green House homes on each floor.  Each home will have 12 private bedrooms and baths—along with a hearth area, open kitchen and dining room.  A total of 144 Elders will call this home.

To date, there have been a number of training and informational programs for the JKV community.  Implementation teams have been created to help guide the development of The Woodlands and the operational practices that will be incorporated once the homes open.

The first level of The Woodlands will feature a number of ammenties; 50 seat casual Bistro restaurant, a training center and kitchen, a  convocation room with a capacity up to 100 people for chapel services and other special events, and a state of the art short-term rehabilitation center.

The homes are expected to open in the Fall of 2015.

We congratulate everyone involved in the project!

Click here to read more about the project.

Power Belongs with The Elder and Those Working Close to Them

New research from The Journal of Applied Gerontology showed that involving Nursing Assistants in decision making has a positive effect on quality of service. From my experience with person-centered care, I can tell you that the research rings true. The Nursing Assistant is the person who works closest with the Elder, day in and day out, and gets to know them best. These staff members know Elders as individuals, rather than just a diagnosis, and when they are empowered to make decisions based on this intimate knowledge, both Elders and staff benefit.

We do a role play exercise during Green House education where we act out a Care Plan meeting. In the first round, the Care Plan meeting is handled as it would be in a traditional setting, with only the clinical staff involved in the conversation. In the second round, we include the Nursing Assistant, Elder, Family Member and Housekeeper. The reaction to this exercise is always astonishment, as participants realize how much important information is missing when all stakeholders are not represented. As the research states, “When nursing staff had the autonomy to make decisions, there was a higher relationship to service quality. The empowerment of nursing assistants had an even greater effect than empowerment of nurses…”

In The Green House model, the power shifts to the Elder and those working closest to them. Power means having the resources and authority to make and execute a decision. This creates a deep-knowing environment where the Elder’s natural rhythm and preferences are honored. Quality is also impacted because of this familiarity. Staff members notice the small things about the Elder’s well-being, that can lead to early detection of illness and acuity changes. When staff members are empowered to meet the needs of the elder, they feel ownership and valued in their job and Elders feel safe and content, because they are known. Ask yourself, “What is best for the Elder?”, when this question is central, it is clear that those who know them well must be involved with decision making.