Green House Blog

Dr. Bill Thomas: Creating Real Home with Increased Acuity

As Elders living in Green House homes age in place it is important that we resist the urge to revert back to institutional practices to solve the obstacles that may be associated with their changing care needs. During a Peer Network webinar last month, adopters had the opportunity to hear Dr. Bill Thomas discuss the topic of increasing acuity of Elders in Green House homes and his recommendations for sustaining the Green House core value of real home.

Participants on the call were asked to think about Florence Nightingale and the new approach and standard of practice that she brought to the existing institutions of her time. Dr. Thomas believes that we are descendants of her philosophy of care and therefore must be prepared to care for Elders in sickness and in health.

A few recommendations he provided during the conversation included:

– Having a clear understanding of the advanced care directives of Elders living in Green House homes and what they want when their health changes acutely.  It is important to have these conversations in advance of illness and revisit the topic as needed

– To better understand how quality acute care services are provided in a home, have conversations with the hospice and home care agencies in your community

– Understand from Elders and their loved ones whether they want maximum care or maximum treatment at the end of life. It isn’t possible to provide both simultaneously.

In many institutional long-term care settings a person is placed in the “sick role” and then kept there for the remainder of their life. Green House homes are unique in that they are a place of recovery, rejuvenation and a dedication to the belief that all people have the right to live with dignity, autonomy and purpose until their last breath.

Much Comfort on this Valentine's Day

Below is a special Valentine’s note from Minna Rae Friedman.  Her husband lives in a Green House home at the Capt. James A Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago, Illinois.  While the note is written to express how grateful she is…we think you’ll agree there is much love written here “between the lines”!

My husband, Stanley Friedman, has been a resident of the Green House home for over one and a half years.    He is a 94 ½ year old WWII veteran.  This facility has been a godsend to us both.  It is a pleasure to visit and see the care he receives and his surroundings.  Friends who visit, want to move in.

When I have had health situations needing care, I am comfortable knowing he is being cared for.  Our children have supplied him with a desk and computer so he is able to play his favorite “Freecell” game, which not only engages his time, but provides some mental stimulation.

He has a number of health problems requiring medical and physical attention that I wouldn’t be able to provide, so it is doubly comforting to know he is comfortable, and contented.

We, fortunately, live close to Lovell FHCC, and it is a pleasure for me to visit often and I love to bring homemade treats that are always enjoyed by the residents and staff.  (I hope. They say so.)

The Green House homes are a wonderful addition to Lovell FHCC and a welcome respite from the old, traditional nursing homes.

Minna Rae Friedman





Fed Ex, Manager of Global Citizenship, Speaks at Green House Annual Meeting

Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future. –John F. Kennedy

The 7th Annual Green House Meeting and Celebration provided not just the opportunity to grow and learn from each other but also to draw on the wisdom of leaders in other fields. Our conference was held in Memphis, TN—the home office of FedEx and we were honored to hear the inspirational words from Rose Flenorl, Manager of Global Citizenship. Green House adopters with impressed with her message about leadership and change.

In her speech, Rose built upon the theme of the conference, “Leading with Heart and Soul.” She reflected on the founder and CEO of Fed Ex, Frederick W. Smith, and how he was leading with his heart and soul when he fought against the naysayers, all the critics who called him crazy, to start a little airline, then called “Federal Express.” He had total and resolute faith that this country needed an overnight package delivery service, and he was the one to make it happen. Rose enforced the point that growth and success is not possible without a deliberate focus on adapting to change. In fact, Mr. Smith is often quoted as saying that “managing change is the key to a successful future.”

As Manager of Global Citizenship at FedEx, Rose is a part of the team that demonstrates the heart and soul of the company. She works with non-profit organizations to make a difference in people’s lives. Whether it is disaster relief, pedestrian and road safety, education or the environment – Fed Ex supports hundreds of charitable groups and causes through grants, sponsorships, in-kind shipping and volunteerism.

She leveraged her experiences with change and growth to highlight the changes that are occurring in the health care field, particularly with the aging Baby Boomer population. Through a moving and personal story about her mother, Rose became vulnerable, and connected her story with the work of Green House adopters, “I, for one, don’t want to be a burden on my family. I hope that if/when I get to a point where I need long-term care that I have a nurturing, warm, home-like place I can live complete with a caring and competent staff.”

In preparation for her talk, Rose visited Ave Maria home in Bartlett, TN. She spoke openly about how she felt when she was in The Green House homes, from the clean, warm environment, to the friendliness of the staff and the peaceful, content elders. She said that she never thought that there would be a place where she would feel comfortable bringing her mom to live, until visiting Ave Maria, and now she has hope that things can be different for people who need skilled care.

Because The Green House model centers around the elders, the staff is empowered to do whatever is necessary to create the best home possible, enabling a meaningful life for and with the elders.

Rose left the audience with these thoughts, “You are contributing a social impact, giving back to our communities in a way by providing better jobs for direct care staff, and a better quality of life for elders. It’s all about leadership, wise leadership requires passion, and when you lead with heart and soul, you make significant impacts.”

Thank you, Rose Flenorl, for speaking from the heart, through personal stories, professional experiences and wise words to help Green House organizations grow and stretch beyond our field and comfort zone.

TimeSlips: Forget Memory – Try Imagination!

Forget memory – try imagination!  That’s exactly what TimeSlips is asking of people living with dementia. According to  “The open, poetic language of improvisational storytelling invites people with memory loss to express themselves and connect with others.”  With TimeSlips, people living with dementia are invited to be creatively engage with others by telling stories about pictures that inspire the imagination.

The result? Improved communication, mood and affect among people with dementia. It also improves attitudes about dementia among staff, medical students and general college students. TimeSlips is an evidence based program started by Anne Bastings, a professor of theater at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.  Anne created TimeSlips while volunteering at a nursing home. She has since conducted research with the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee and written three books that demonstrate the value of creative engagement through TimeSlips.

It’s time for TimeSlips to scale up and become more readily available to people living with dementia. You can learn more about how to support the expansion of TimeSlips here.

Click here to learn how TimeSlips is being used creatively at the Green House homes in Seward, Alaska.


Steve Saling Expands his Reach, with the ALS Residence Initiative

If you’ve ever had the chance to tour or attend a Green House workshop at the Leonard Florence Center for Living (LFCL)—you undoubtedly walked away with a special appreciation for the meaningful life taking place in those ten homes.

You may also have had the opportunity to meet Steve Saling, one person living in those homes and is often a tour guide for groups.  In fact, the home he lives in carries his name, the Steve Saling ALS Residence, because he was such an inspirational part of how the technology in that home provides such independence for those living with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or ALS.

Steve is a big supporter of The ALS Residence Initiative (ALSRI) founded to inspire replication of homes like the one at LFCL across America and the world.  Their mission is clearly explained on their home page:

“This is too special a place to be unique in the world. We will help you open an ALS Residence near you. Explore this site to learn more.”

The website offers a variety of information including the fact that there is no known cause and no medical treatment or cure for ALS:

It is a neurodegenerative condition thought to be caused by a breakdown of cellular recycling systems in the neurons of the spinal cord and brain that results in the nervous system slowly losing its ability to carry brain signals to the body’s muscular system. ALS is not inherently fatal but death is usually a complication of the diaphragm becoming too weak for the lungs to function.

The story behind Steve and his involvement in the construction and development of the ALS home is truly amazing.  It is captured in the video on the home page of their website.

We invite you to take a moment and visit the website—we encourage you to share it with your networks.

Who knows…YOU may be the spark that ignites the development of a home that provides a rich and more meaningful life to those who didn’t feel that was possible!


The Green House Model: Person-Directed Relationship-Based Care…An Important Part Of The Conversation For Those Living With Alzheimer ’s Disease.

The “I’ll Be Me” documentary featuring music legend, Glen Campbell has meant a new surge in the discussion about Alzheimer’s disease and how important our person centered perspective needs to be part of the conversation to increase awareness that people living with dementia are creative, resourceful and whole.

Director of The Green House Project, Susan Frazier, recently served on a panel after the showing of the film in Arlington, Virginia—the room was packed with an audience of more than 200 people all eager to ask questions and find out more about the disease.

People with dementia do best when they live within a caring community.  The Green House core values: Meaningful Life, Real Home, and Empowered Staff and the essential practices of the model support each aspect of life for all people living with dementia, and truly, all people living in the homes.

With more than 25 years of experience operationalizing and advancing person-directed care, former speech therapist and long term care administrator, Karen Love, wrote a blog about what needs to happen to encourage others to develop person-directed care.

She points to the white paper in January 2013 titled “Dementia Care:  The Quality Chasm” that provides the consensus definition and framework for person-centered dementia care.

Karen says that successfully evolving to person-centered dementia care practices will require the efforts of all stakeholders including individuals living with early stage dementia, family members and other care partners and healthcare practitioners.

Tell us what you think about the documentary OR your thoughts about person-centered care!