Green House Blog

2015: A Year of Remarkable Growth

Banner signed at the 2015 Annual Meeting by Green House adopters

2015 was a year of remarkable growth for The Green House Project. We are coming to a community near you, and our name is recognized as the pinnacle of long term care innovation. The Peer Network is one of those crucial elements that sets us apart and as our network grows, we develop and evolve because of their wisdom. The 8th Annual Green House Meeting was a powerful convening of this network. Green House adopters from around the country come together to learn from leaders in the field and each other.  They gain energy and successful practices toward continued success. To support this sustainability and apply the results of the THRIVE research that will be published in 2016, The Green House Project Thrive-logoreleased a tool to gauge model integrity. This tool will ensure that The Green House core values of Real Home, Meaningful Life and Empowered Staff thrive in all organizations who are living this model every day.

The Green House Project receives a great deal of recognition and media coverage. Here’s just a small sampling of the dozens of stories and accolades over the last few months.

  • Green House Project Founder Hailed as top “Influencer in Aging.” In its first annual list of people that are changing aging and how we think about aging, Next Avenue recognized The Green House Project’s founder Bill Thomas. Read more.
  • The New York Times Highlights Green House Homes. In a recently published story on the trend toward smaller nursing home residences, the author highlights the Green House model. Read more. The_New_York_Times
  •  Recognition at Annual LeadingAge Conference. At this year’s conference in Boston, thousands of attendees got to hear Atul Gawande’s keynote, where he discussed The Green House model and specifically called out the Leonard Florence Center for Living in Chelsea, MA. Read more. Dr. Eleanor Barbera of McKnight’s visited the Leonard Florence Center while attending the conference and wrote about it. Read more.

The Green House Project is about to end an historic year – there are now 185 Green House homes open in 28 states. Here’s just a sampling of some of the news from Green House projects around the country over the last few months:

  • Washington County (Colorado) Nursing Home Groundbreaking. In a total replacement of its current nursing home, Washington County will be developing 4 Green House homes. This is the second project in Colorado. Read more.
  • Saint Elizabeth Groundbreaking – First in Rhode Island. Rhode Island breaks its moratorium on new nursing home development to approve the first Green House homes in the state. Read More.

    saint e ground breaking
    Groundbreaking at Saint Elizabeth’s Community in Rhode Island
  • Morris Hall Meadows (NJ) Grand Opening. In October, Morris Hall Meadows opened 6 new Green House homes, making it the second Green House project in New Jersey. Read More.
  • Clark-Lindsey (IL) Groundbreaking. In September, Clark-Lindsey broke ground on two Green House homes that will be dedicated to dementia care. This is a major step forward for Illinois providers and regulatory offices looking to spur innovation in the state. Read More.

As we look with hope and gratitude toward the new year, please take a moment to hear Doris Delanus, an elder who lived at The Village of Redford in Michigan, tell us about what these homes mean to her.  Elders Rule! 

Portrait of a Green House Elder: Doris Delanus (2 mins 42 secs) from The Green House Project on Vimeo.

Green House Homes Will Be First of Their Kind in Western Massachusetts

Green House Homes Will Be First of Their Kind in Western Massachusetts
Jewish Geriatric Services Lifecare Partners with THE GREEN HOUSE® Project

LONGMEADOW, MA— Martin W. Baicker, president and CEO, Jewish Geriatric Services (JGS) Lifecare, is pleased to announce JGS Lifecare will be working with THE GREEN HOUSE® Project to implement this revolutionary model of care in the new Sosin Center for Rehabilitation, currently under construction, and throughout the Leavitt Family Jewish Home community over the next 18 months.

“Green House has worked with over 170 nursing homes around the country,” said Baicker. “They’ve helped establish a new standard in long term and post-acute care that’s resulted in higher quality outcomes and increased elder and caregiver satisfaction,” he added.

“JGS Lifecare has a strong reputation for high quality, with over a hundred years of commitment to elders, families and staff in the community. We commend them for their vision to further their mission by implementing The Green House model, and their commitment to transform long term care in western Massachusetts,” said Susan Frazier Ryan, senior director, The Green House Project.

A Green House home is a self-contained home for up to 12 elders, designed to provide a personalized model of care within a real home setting. Each home features ample natural light, a central living area, open kitchen, and dining room. Staff is rigorously trained in the Green House philosophy, giving residents 4x more human contact than the traditional institutional model.

The Green House model will be implemented in the 24,000 square foot Sosin Center, featuring two Green House homes, when it is completed in approximately 8-10 months. The Sosin Center will be the only Green House certified facility in western Massachusetts, the third in Massachusetts. The model will then be implemented throughout JGS Lifecare’s 200-bed skilled nursing home.

“As we move away from traditional models of care and embrace The Green House model of care, we will not only improve the care provided, but also enhance the dignity of those living here. Green House homes combine the best of a real home setting with skilled care, giving elders the freedom to live life on their terms, rather than conform to the rhythms of the institution. It helps them thrive in comfortable spaces that feel like home,” said Anne M. Thomas, vice president of residential health, JGS Lifecare.

JGS Lifecare is working with Perkins Eastman, one of the foremost architectural firms designing in The Green House model in the United States to assist in the design of the upgrades and new facility. The Sosin Center and nursing home remodel are part of JGS Lifecare’s Project Transformation, a dynamic $20 million multi-step initiative to enhance person-centered care on the Longmeadow campus.


About JGS Lifecare: JGS Lifecare is a leading health care system serving seniors and their families. JGS Lifecare services include nursing home care, home health and hospice care, assisted living, adult day health care, rehabilitation services, palliative care, music therapy and subsidized independent living.

 About the Sosin Center for Rehabilitation: Now under construction, the Sosin Center for Rehabilitation will bring the Green House model of care, a more homelike setting for people undergoing rehabilitative care, to JGS Lifecare. The 24-bed short term care/rehabilitation building will be connected to our existing nursing home by a promenade that will include Michael’s Café, a new kosher coffee shop and cafeteria. Sosin Center construction will be completed in approximately 12 months.

 About THE GREEN HOUSE® Project: The Green House Project is a radically new national model for skilled nursing care that returns control, dignity and a sense of well-being to elders, their families and direct care staff. In the Green House model, residents receive care in small, self- contained homes organized to deliver individualized care and meaningful relationships between residents and care staff.

JGS_logoGreen house logo

Home for the Holidays

By Doug Luginbill, Director of Resource Development and Church Relations, Mennonite Home Communities of Ohio

The holiday season in a nursing home is often filled with carolers, family visits and special treats. Activity rooms fill with elementary school children singing familiar Christmas songs as elders smile with enjoyment. Christmas trees adorn the lobbies, dining rooms and other places where space can be found. It is a festive time.

A plate of cookies are enjoyed by Elders and their families.
A plate of cookies are enjoyed by Elders and their families.

Often, Elders are passive observers of these festivities, but in The Green House homes, this is not the case. At Willow Ridge in Bluffton, OH, Elders not only sit back and enjoy, but are actively involved in decorating, planning special meals, making tree ornaments and even baking for the holidays. At Willow Ridge, the Elders are truly “home for the holidays.”

Willow Ridge is composed of two Green House homes. Each home provides 24-hour nursing care in ten private rooms with private bathrooms located around a central hearth/dining room and kitchen. Like in so many homes during the holidays, the kitchen and dining room table become the center for food, fellowship and reminiscing.

In a December 15, 2014 New York Times article entitled The Green House Effect: Homes for the Elderly to Thrive, the author highlights some of the unique aspects of living in a Green House home. The writer states, “(Elders) participate, when able, in food preparation and eat in a communal setting that is more like a home dining room than a cafeteria. Unlike the regimented meals in nursing homes, Green House residents are free to choose when to eat.”

The holidays can be especially difficult for some people. This is often exacerbated for elders living in traditional

Stockings are hung with care at the mantle in Frieda House.
Stockings are hung with care at the mantle in Frieda House.

long-term care facilities. Loss is keenly felt during seasons when family traditions and social gatherings are no longer possible. The challenges of sharing a room with a roommate also are compounded during the holidays. How does one decorate ½ a room? Where can gifts be exchanged festively? Where can the extended family share a meal together?

The elders, their families and staff at Willow Ridge work together to provide activities and events that help fill some of the voids felt during the holidays. It is not uncommon for the families of elders living at Willow Ridge to plan holiday potluck meals together. Impromptu caroling around the hearth often happens. Families can reserve the den to open gifts together or skype other family members. Each elder room can be decorated to her or his preference.

A year ago, Frieda House (one of the homes at Willow Ridge) celebrated the holidays with an “open house” and invited family and friends to join them in singing carols around the piano, playing table games, enjoying Christmas cookies and a trip around town to view the Christmas lights. There was a festive mood in the house as several families sang Silver Bells and Away in a Manger at the piano as the daughter of Christine, one of the Elders, played the piano. Another Elder, Doris, enjoyed cookies and conversation around the dining room table with her daughter and two grandchildren. As is typical at most family gatherings, young children ran through the house, their eyes all aglow, knowing that Santa was on his way. After returning from seeing the Christmas lights in Bluffton, another Elder, Durand, headed straight to the kitchen for some fudge and buckeyes.

The tree is adorned with doves bearing names of Elders who have passed away while living at Frieda House.
The tree is adorned with doves bearing names of Elders who have passed away while living at Frieda House.

In addition to the Open House at Willow Ridge, Elders living there have enjoyed a number of activities and events during the Christmas season including:
• A trip to see the Christmas tree display at the Allen County Museum
• A carol sing-along and craft activity with local Boy Scouts, baking gingerbread cookies and snowmen
• Christmas trivia supper
• Elder/Staff Christmas Meal
• Making snow globes with a craft club
• Family Christmas Day meal
• Barberettes singing at Betty House

In deciding whether or not to pursue the Green House philosophy, Laura Voth, CEO of Mennonite Home Communities of Ohio stated, “When we toured the first Green House homes in Tupelo, MS in 2004, we were struck by how much the houses felt like real homes. It fit so well with our mission of providing person-centered care and purposeful living in a Christian environment. We were convinced this is what the Elders of our communities deserved.”

Since opening in 2012, Willow Ridge has been well received by the community. “We have been full since April, 2013 when we received our licenses from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS),” states Rhonda Wolpert, Administrator of Willow Ridge. “When the Ohio Department of Health did their annual survey last year, they were impressed by the real-home atmosphere as well as the quality of care. In fact, they could hardly believe they were in a nursing home,” Wolpert reported.

Much of the reason for the positive survey can be attributed to the excellent care-givers and the staffing model that is used. Care givers (called Shahbaz in the Green House model) are universal workers meaning that they are involved in all aspects of managing the household. Kind of like the moms and dads of the house, they do laundry, prepare

Frieda House, Willow Ridge
Frieda House, Willow Ridge

meals, and do light housekeeping in addition to providing direct Elder care. This provides increased interaction with the Elders, allowing the Shahbaz to get to know the Elders they serve more fully. There is also consistency in staffing which means the same Shahbazim (plural for Shahbaz) care for the same Elders nearly every day. Each Shahbaz is responsible for just five Elders whereas in many traditional nursing homes an aid typically cares for 7-15 elders.

The unique philosophy and environment of the Green House homes makes it possible for Elders like Christine, Doris, Durand and others to say with sincerity, “It’s good to be home for the holidays.”