Green House Blog

The Visionary Leadership Behind the First PACE Green House homes

Green House homes are dynamic and able to impact innovation in many different settings.  The first Green House homes to be incorporated with a PACE community have opened as part of The Thome Rivertown Neighborhood in Detroit.  It is an honor to be able to open the doors of accessibility for low income elders through this partnership. 

PACE is the acronym of the Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly.  PACE programs are government-funded managed care health plans that also provide comprehensive health services for individuals age 55 and over who have health needs classified as “nursing home eligible” by their state’s Medicaid program.  The goal is to keep chronically ill elders independent for as long as possible –preventing avoidable  hospitalizations, emergency visits and stays in nursing homes.

Roger Myers is CEO of Presbyterian Villages of Michigan, and Mary Naber is President/CEO of PACE Southeast Michigan.  They are the leaders behind this innovation, and hold the belief in this partnership to evolve the healthcare system.  “This is the future.  Health is about more than medical care.  To meet the needs of elders, the focus must be holistic, accessible and home based,” Naber says.

The goal of PACE is to keep people as independent as possible and to avoid nursing home stays.  Despite that, nationally 7% of PACE participants still end up spending some time in long term care, according to Naber, “less because of a need for skilled care, and more because they are not safe to stay in their homes.”

“As we know, even the best traditional nursing home does not provide the greatest living experience, and now, for at least 21 people, The Rivertown Neighborhood is able to offer an alternative.  The Weinberg Green House homes meet their needs, support them to thrive and enable them to remain in the community,” says Naber.  “It’s very gratifying to be able to offer this option.  I wish I had 10 Green House homes for people!”

The Green House homes are licensed as Homes for the Aged, a distinction that provides flexibility and enables elders with a high level of need to live in the least restrictive environment possible.   As it happens, many of the people living in these homes have moved there from nursing homes.  The PACE program provides a “wrap-around” so that elders receive all the services they need, enabling The Green House home will be their home for life.

“The great thing about the co-location of the Weinberg Green House homes to the PACE center is that the elders receive all the same benefits as if they were living in their own homes, which they are- Green House homes.  Being right on the PACE campus will keep elders more mobile and socially engaged.  It will also help PACE clinicians stay in touch, and we know that frequent interactions can help prevent ER visits and other medical concerns.” explains Myers.

“Health is not just about medical care, especially when you’re dealing with chronic illness,” declares Naber.  By leveraging an interdisciplinary team rather than the typical doctor-driven model, the team at the Weinberg Green Houses are able to care for the WHOLE person: body, mind and spirit.

PACE Southeast Michigan is a 501c3 not-for profit government funded unique health plan and comprehensive care provider.   It is a jointly owned by Henry Ford Health System, one of the early PACE innovators, and Presbyterian Villages of Michigan.

The Thome Rivertown Neighborhood includes Independent Living, Assisted Living, the PACE Center and now The Green House homes.  Not everyone who lives on the campus is a part of PACE, but it is built as a continuum to enable low income and highly frail people to stay in their community as their health status changes.

Integrating residential living with PACE is proving to be an effective development that will hopefully spread throughout the country.  PVM led the development effort for this supportive neighborhood during the recession, and the idea was so compelling that they were able to achieve their goals.  A $2 million grant from the Baltimore-based Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation provided much of the support to make their vision to add Green House homes to the community a reality.

 

 

A Sage’s Testimonial of Short Stay Rehabilitation in a Green House home

For the last few years, I have served as a Sage (volunteer who supports and advises the self managed work team) at The Green House homes of Mirasol.  Recently, my role was reversed, when I moved in to recover after an extremely taxing and debilitating surgery.  These homes are listed as 5 Star by Medicare and Medicaid, a wonderful professional endorsement.  I can tell you, however, that the essence of what I experienced, goes far beyond that checklist, and their stellar outcomes reflect something much deeper and more comprehensive.

The Green House homes were the only attractive option for rehab within 20 minutes from my home.  Because I know how popular The Green House homes are, I was worried that there would not be space for me.  I was delighted to be able recover in a Real Home. I knew that being a volunteer would be very different from being a guest in the community, but I couldn’t have predicted how impressed I would be, or the gratitude I would feel.

The Green House team ensured that the process was smooth and dignified from the very beginning.  They managed all the hospital paperwork, follow-up appointments and coordination, which in my mind already goes leagues above 5 stars!  The driver’s vehicle enabled me to sit comfortably up front, and he even offered me clip-on sunglasses, my choice of music and a warm blanket (an important touch on a freezing Colorado day).  We quickly fell into a comfortable chat and discovered many things that we had in common.

When I arrived, I was greeted warmly, like a long-lost, favorite uncle!  The Shahbazim (direct care staff) offered me the choice of going to my room for a rest, or staying at the table for a meal.  Having already having discovered my dietary preferences, they offered to make something special, just for me.  The whole home smelled scrumptious when I came in the front door! Just being there made me feel better, and I had a renewed appreciation for the airiness of the dining area, the good smells of the kitchen, and the warm, inviting fireplace area.

We went to my room – private room with private bathroom, thank goodness.  As I was oriented, I was reminded that no room is more than six doors from the hearth, and this was confirmed the next morning by the aroma of breakfast wafting into my bedroom.  How refreshing to recover without the long and disorienting corridors lined with carts of stale food or unmentionables waiting to be taken out back.  At no stage
was I “parked” anywhere in the house, as I have seen in other nursing homes, left alone to wait.  To be treated like a person, rather than an object; what this did for my well-being, I can’t begin to measure.

Dinner was a very communal event, and I felt very welcomed by my fellow elders at the table.  Some required help with eating, which the Shahbazim did casually and warmly with considerable skill and NO DEMEANING BIBS.  It immediately felt like the elders were interested in me as a fellow member of the house and its extended family of elders, staff and family members. The feeling of family was beautifully illustrated, as one elder spontaneously went over to another elder, who seemed unhappy, and simply gave him a hug.  It was then that I was brought to tears, so moved by the atmosphere of support and caring. The elders are empowered to care and support each other, creating a community of reciprocity, where everyone has something to offer.

The hearth in the center of the house is a place where elders and Shahbazim could naturally get to know each other more deeply, creating mutually supportive relationships as our stories are shared. What a realization to know that the more deeply we know each other, the more we are valued.  These relationships enable the elders and Shahbazim to go beyond medical needs, and become connected, helping each other to live the best life possible.

The staff appeared to be encouraged to stop over each day and chat for a while just to get to know me better.  I felt understood, and like the things that were important to me, were important to them.  If I had a visitor (like my wife of 51 years) or was engaged elsewhere, my nurse would ask if I would prefer she come back later. She put me in the driver seat of my care, and made me feel like she honored my privacy and dignity. The Shahbazim seemed to anticipate my needs, incorporating what they learned about me from our conversations, and providing personalized care that went well beyond my physical needs.  Team members would stop by at the end of their shift to just chat about their plans for the rest of the day, to ask advice, or to ask me about my life stories.  This genuine caring, was something that I hadn’t experienced in other nursing home/rehab settings, and it was so gratifying and replenishing.  To be known and truly valued, this is better than the best medicine.

What a phenomenal rehabilitation experience, delivered by wonderful people who love their
job, love the people they work with and the elders they serve.  The Green House homes provide opportunities for these open-hearted people to grow and develop their already extraordinary gifts.  I am honored to be able to share my experience as a testimonial to others who are seeking a place where they can recover, not only physically, but holistically.  It is because of this experience that I healed so rapidly, with caring and the preservation of my dignity.

Learn more about The Green House homes at Mirasol>>

 

Green House Team Members Move “Heaven and Earth” for Patrick to Attend White House Reception

Patrick O’Brian lives with ALS at Leonard Florence Center for Living, a Green House Project in Chelsea, Massachusetts.  His father, Mayor Kennedy O’Brian of Sayreville, NJ,was invited to the White House St. Patrick’s Day Reception, and he knew he had to find a way to bring his son.  Patrick’s dad said that the team from Leonard Florence Center (LFCL) moved “heaven and earth” to get his son to the event.   Patrick was able to shake the President’s hand and meet the Irish Prime Minister…It was certainly a once in a lifetime experience.

LFCL has a long history of connecting people to meaning and adventure. From trips to Cape Cod and Disney World, to sky diving, this organization believes that well-being is about a lot more than physical health.

Beyond this exciting event, Patrick O’Brian is a filmmaker.   He was honored in 2015 at the Tribeca Film festival for, Transfatty Lives, a piece that he created with eye gaze technology, while living at LFCL.

We celebrate Green House homes who are pushing the envelope everyday to ensure people live full and meaningful lives, from simple pleasures like getting a cup of coffee just the right way, to traveling 12 hours with a full medical team and meeting the President.  “I’m just a proud father and a grateful father,” Kennedy O’Brian said.

 

 

 

 

Ave Maria Home Receives Grant to Build Safe Havens for Victims of Abuse

Acting on a strong mission to serve elders in need, Ave Maria home, in Bartlett, TN is embarking on Phase II of their Green House journey.  They are currently building five 12-bed Green House homes that will join four Green Houses built six years ago.  The new homes have a special purpose, to serve as a safe haven for elders who have experienced abuse.

To support this worthy endeavor, The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Inc. has awarded them a grant of $500,000.  Ave Maria CEO, Frank Gattuso, states “It’s exciting to have a national foundation’s involvement in recognizing the importance of care for our elders.  The Weinberg Foundation is committed to assisting elders through post-acute care and culture change in our community with these Green House homes.”

Maureen Conley, family member of one of the Ave Maria residents.

The Green House model has within it, the power to impact those who live and work there.  The comprehensive transformation of environment, philosophy, and organizational redesign creates an interelated web that supports people to flourish.  Ave Maria home is a leader in Tennessee elder care, and we are so proud to be a part of their innovative and compassionate work.

The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Inc. are integral partners.  Susan Ryan, Senior Director of The Green House Project shares, “Since 2013, the reach of The Green House Project has been expanded through the generous support of The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation. Their involvement enables the Green House® Project to make an even greater impact, bringing a highly and more personalized standard of care to elders in every community.   These funds have furthered innovation in the field and are vital to extend truly excellent, affordable long term care to all people regardless of acuity level or ability to pay.”

Congratulations to Ave Maria Home, on this truly important work, and the national recognition and support

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