Green House Blog

Elder Wisdom Brings The Green House model to John Knox Village

Twylah and David Haun are residents of John Knox Village, in Pompano Beach, Fl, and were a part of a group from Independent Living who researched The Green House model and presented it to Administration.

The administration at John Knox Village, decided that their excellent nursing home was getting old, and needed to be updated.  The residents of John Knox insisted that whatever was built had to have a private room with private bath for each person.  When David first heard about The Green House model, he was skeptical.  He thought it just seemed too good to be true. He feared our local staff wouldn’t accept the concept, and he questioned the quality and efficiency of preparing meals in each home.  Finally he wondered how wise it was to pay outside Green House “experts” who might dictate plans and organization for John Knox.

In 2011, David suggested a visit some existing Green House homes to learn more.  He felt it wasn’t fair to condemn the concept in ignorance.  The possibility of what could be discovered was exciting.

On the first visit to Buckner Westminster Place, in Longview, TX, Twylah remembers thinking, “Wow, this doesn’t look like a nursing home at all!” As their exploration continued, they entered the GH Cottages of Wentworth Place, in Magnolia, Arkansas, and became more and more excited,  Tywlah proclaimed “why would we want to recreate the wheel, this is a proven model”.

Both David and Twylah were impressed with the number of Shahbazim (versatile worker that serves as direct care staff) and Guides saying how thrilled they were with the quality of care The Green House model enabled them to give their elders.  “I never would want to work in a traditional style again” seemed to be a recurring theme.

By the fourth Green House visit in The Green House Homes at Traceway in Tupelo, MS, David found that all of his questions and reservations regarding the cost, the food, and the organization were answered.  He was convinced.  He decided that working with The Green House Project was a sure thing. Just as The Ritz Carlton is a  proven model for creating an excellent hotel, John Knox should depend on The Green House model to guide building design, as well as,  education and organizational redesign.  The Green House homes at John Knox Village will look different than the various homes around the country, because they will reflect the culture of John Knox Village, but they will have the proven elements and core values of Real Home, Meaningful Life and Empowered Staff that has led to successful outcomes across the country.

John Knox leadership decided to follow The Green House model, and plans were drawn for a seven story Health Center with 12 homes, with 12 residents each.

Twylah and David have been privileged to share the story of how the residents of John Knox Village were the driving force to bring this change to the organization.  Honoring varied faith traditions, Twylah shares a request to lift the Green House staff members (and especially the Shahbazim) in prayer to honor those who have chosen to spend their lives caring for elders in this special way; those who have a desire to create a real home that truly meets the unique needs of its elders.

John Knox Village is pleased to become part of The Green House family.  Twylah and David have made many new friends in this journey, and wish all Green House Homes a Happy Holiday and look forward to serving in the New Year.


Ten Reasons to Drive to the Green House Annual Meeting & Celebration in Memphis

The team from Willow Ridge submitted the following blog highlighting their trip to the annual conference:

The last two years Mennonite Home Communities of Ohio, Willow Ridge, drove to the annual Green House Conference.  Last year we drove 12 hours to Boston.  At 5:00 p.m. today, five of us arrived in Memphis after traveling 10 hours.  Shahbazim Mel Lehman and Robbin House, Guide Barb Lawrence, DON Heather Clum and Development Director Doug Luginbill climbed aboard a rented Dodge Caravan at 6:00 a.m. 

Here are ten reasons we would do it again…unless it is in Seward, Alaska!

10. Your snacks are better than airplane snacks!

9. You never leave the ground.

8. You don’t have to worry about your clothes arriving with you.

7. Five people renting one van is much less expensive than five airline tickets.  More money to spend on elders!

6. You get to talk about important issues like how to best protect elders’ clothing when eating meals.

5. You get to strategize about how to get the most out of the Green House Meeting.

4. You learn to know about each other’s families and interests.

3. You get to see cotton fields, Cyprus swamps and deer grazing in fields.

2. You build community!

1. The convivium is awesome!

Veteran's Day 2014, A Letter to the Editor

Below is a letter to the editor that Ann Wagle, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, Gerontological Nurse–BC , the administrator/guide, for The Green
House Homes at VA Illiana Health Care System, Danville wrote for National Nursing Home Week.  In this letter, she shares the power of The Green House model and the value that it holds for veterans.  To learn more about how The Green House Project serves Veterans, visit:

Better Care for Veterans, by Ann Wagle

originally published in The Commercial-News-Danville, IL, May 11, 2014

In recognition of National Nursing Home Week, May 11-17, 2014, we at VA Illiana Health Care
Systems celebrate the person-centered care movement that is transforming the delivery of care in
long term and post-acute skilled nursing care centers around the country. In the spirit of
compassion, kindness, harmony in caring, and respect for those living and working in skilled nursing
centers, we bring to your attention The Green House Project.

The Green House model is rooted in a philosophy of person-directed, relationship-based care.
Based on the three core values of Real home, Meaningful Life, and Empowered Staff, the Green
House model is now operating in 32 states. Individual houses, designed for 10-12 elders, foster the
same feeling and experience you get from living in a real home. The comfort of private rooms, each
with its own private bathroom, is combined with the family-like atmosphere of open common

The model embraces elderhood as an opportunity for continued growth and development and seeks
to create the opportunity for elders to experience continued meaning in their lives, while maintaining
the autonomy and choice they would experience in their own homes. The innovative organizational
structure in the Green House model is based upon the conviction that we need a new framework
around which to organize the experience of those who protect, sustain, and nurture our elders.
Cross-training of certified nursing assistants as universal workers creates an opportunity for the
maximum resources to be placed closest to the elders. A highly skilled team of clinicians provide the
necessary support and services for the elders to maintain their highest level of function, without
centering their lives around medical treatment.

The Green House model has been shown to deliver significant improvement in care and in elder,
family and staff satisfaction. As the nation approaches the impending “age wave”, the Green House
model and small home nursing homes are the future of elder care.

The first Green House home in the VA System opened in Danville at VA Illiana in December 2011.
Two Green House homes, Freedom and Liberty, opened at that time, and two more homes, Valor
and Honor, are currently under construction. Each Green House home at VA Illiana provides
private rooms and bathrooms for 10 Veterans through a partnership with our VA Network in Ann
Arbor, Mich., and our VA Central Office in Washington, D.C. Plans include an additional two
homes and a community center at VA Illiana.In 2012, VA Illiana received national recognition for their planning and implementation of the
Green House model through a federal award by the Under Secretary of Health for Innovation in
Long Term Care.

National Nursing Home Week is the perfect opportunity to celebrate long-term and post-acute
skilled nursing care centers and the people who care for our elders and veterans nationwide. We join
in that celebration as we bring the exciting new Green House model of care to VA Illiana in

Ann Wagle, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, Gerontological Nurse–BC, is administrator/guide, for The Green
House Homes at VA Illiana Health Care System, Danville.

State Regulators Unanimously Approve Plans to Build the First Green House Homes in Missouri

As many of you know, obtaining a Certificate of Need is no easy task these days and that is why we are so pleased with the news from Missouri this week!

The Healthcare Facilities Review Committee of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services unanimously granted an 80-bed Certificate of Need to Focused Senior Communities to build and operate the first Green House homes in that state.

There will be 8 homes built on the campus in Ozark.  Each 7,000 square foot home will include a central dining room, hearth room and open kitchen surrounded by just 10 private bedrooms, each with a full private bathroom.  A screened porch will lead out to a large patio, with a walkway and gardens between homes.

Al Beamer, CEO, said that his family had researched all the options and found the Green House model to be far and away the best choice.

He said “even with all the studies and pictures and testimonials and national press support, it is not until you walk in the door that you truly ‘get’ the ‘Green House Magic.’

A number of local officials strongly supported the project including State Senator Jay Wasson who referenced the Green House model:

“These homes in many other states are well known for providing residents the dignity, care and compassion they deserve.”



Beamer said they plan to break ground in the spring and be open by late fall, 2015.  Congratulations to all and we warmly welcome everyone to the Green House family!

Click here to read about the project as reported in local media.

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Abstract, Green House Nursing Homes: Impact and Outcomes, Honored as the 2014 Ollie Randall Symposium

The Gerontological Society of America’s 67th Annual Scientific Meeting is going on now, from November 5 to November 9. “GSA’s Annual Scientific Meeting brings together more than 4,000 of the brightest minds in the field of aging,” and recognized the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s session entitled Green House Nursing Homes: Impact and Outcomes as the 2014 Ollie Randall Symposium. Every year, the Gerontological Society of America‘s Social Research Policy and Practice (SRPP) “recognizes a symposium that examines cutting edge issues with broad implications for policy or practice.”

Ollie Randall was influential in the field of aging.  “She was the driving force behind the first housing for older people in New York City” and was President of The Gerontological Society. She was known as being outspoken on the issues of “sustaining and enhancing individuality in the later years.” The GREEN HOUSE® Project represents what Ms. Randall stood for by offering “services that were individualized and tailored to meet the diverse needs of elders.”

This year’s meeting theme “challenges researchers to present their best evidence on aging-related connections they investigate, ranging from the smallest particles examined in the lab to the most macro-level issues examined globally.”  The GREEN HOUSE® Project embodies this mission by offering an evidence based model as an alternative to institutional nursing homes.

Dr. Mary Jane Koren Highlights Dr. Bill Thomas at LTCCC Event

Last month, The Green House Project  helped sponsor the Long Term Care Community Coalition’s Sixth Annual Reception which honored the life and work of Mary Jane Koren, M.D., M.P.H. at the Alzheimer’s Association chapter in New York City.  Dr. Koren’s experience includes her work as Vice President for LTC Quality Improvement at The Commonwealth Fund and her position as past chair of Advancing Excellence: Long-Term Care Collaborative.

During her acceptance speech, Dr. Koren shared that, “…between 1950 and 2050, there will be a 10-fold increase in the percent of the population over 85, which is exactly the age cohort most dependent on long-term care services and supports.” She argued that the best way to address this need is to move away from a model that “…puts institutional priorities ahead of resident choice…” and instead follow Dr. Bill Thomas’ lead in creating long-term care models that alleviate loneliness, helplessness and boredom. She shared with the audience that, “Bill Thomas’ philosophy, even at that early stage was, for me an epiphany. I suddenly ‘got’ OBRA’87 in a way I never had before.”

You can read Dr. Koren’s full speech here.

Congratulations to Dr. Koren for her work as a thought leader and innovator in the aging field! We appreciate the work you have done to make the Green House model a reality for so many elders nationwide.