Green House Blog

Keep it Simple: How We’ll Take Aged Care Challenges

Evermore Founder Sara McKee writes about what she learned at the recent Green House conference about how we can tackle aged care challenges by keeping it simple, and the importance of celebrating differences. (Reposted from Evermore Blog)

I recently attended the annual Green House  conference in Fort Lauderdale. It was fantastic to be in a T-shirt in November – having left rather chillier conditions back in Manchester.  It was also great to be with hundreds of believers from across America who are delivering a better way of living in older age, every day.

I was the only English person at the conference alongside fellow international explorers from Panama, Brazil, Bermuda, Israel and Singapore. However, if you take the vast expanse that is the United States, then it felt truly multicultural with folks from Alaska to Colorado, Pittsburgh and Arkansas.

Whilst the language of the conference was English, this multicultural dimension made us all recognise our differences in culture, approach and, indeed, language. We may all be speaking the same words, but do we really understand each other’s meaning?

James Wright delivered a challenging keynote on diversity and inclusion, highlighting our scientifically proven hidden biases. He explained how we operate on an unconscious level which makes us have implicit preferences.  A book he referenced about the topic is ‘The Hidden Brain’ and I’m going to read it to find out more.

One example he gave was how we make assumptions based on accent. He said that coming from South Carolina, he’d trained out his southern drawl as that made him sound stupid in the eyes/ears of others. Good News for me was that he said the English accent was universally seen as the smartest sound!

He was keen to point out that it doesn’t make us racists or any particular “–ists” – it simply is how we’re made! His mission is to move from talking about equality to equity – a discussion deserving of a blog of its own.

What can we learn from all of this?

We had gathered at this conference, many colours, ages and backgrounds to talk about the challenges we all faced with an ageing population and a shrinking workforce. Yes, we had similar challenges, we could share experiences and our different solutions. And yet we were not all the same.  That’s where it felt we had real strength. If we celebrated our differences and built on our joint appetite for collaboration, we could continue to innovate and create new opportunities for living well in older age.

James shared this clever video which reinforced the point for me: “Be together, not the same

My take away from the conference – Keep it Simple:

  • Simplify our approach to engaging with customers – what matters to you? Not what’s the matter with you!
  • Simplify our language – let’s get rid of the jargon. We talk about ‘convivium’ at the heart of our family households, yet it’s hard to say and even harder to spell – so let’s talk about sharing our life together and breaking bread.
  • Be consumer driven – let’s develop and deliver services that are focused on what our customers want. Sounds obvious, but often feels like rocket science in the world of aged care.
  • Translate connectedness, meaning, purpose and exercise into everyday activities. Not make each element someone’s task.

I’ve come back from the conference feeling re-energised and determined to maintain our international collaboration as we can all learn and build new world thinking together.

Register Today for The Distinguished Speaker Webinar Series and OnSite Workshops

Register Today for The Distinguished Speaker Webinar Series and OnSite Workshops
  • Cultural Transformation Through Green House, January 9 (3:00p ET). Join Green House Senior Director, Susan Ryan to hear an Overview of The Green House model as you’ve never heard it before! THE GREEN HOUSE believes that all elders deserve to grow and thrive no matter where they reside, and that to impact lives in a meaningful way, it takes more than environmental change. To make meaningful change a reality, it is imperative to infuse the entire organization with optimal systems and structural changes that create a cohesive approach to elder-directed care.  Register>>
  • Innovations and Trends in Elder Care, February 1 (3:00p ET). Lisa McCracken, Director of Senior Living Finance Research and Development with Ziegler will provide an overview of the key trends and innovations in Elder Care. This is the opening session of our Business Case series which will shed light on how The Green House model is a viable solution amidst the backdrop of a dynamic economy and healthcare climate.Register>>
  • Improving Long Term Care Workforce With Strategies that Work, February 22 (3:00p ET). Robyn Stone, Senior Vice President of Research, LeadingAge, will provide an overview of the demographics, trends and challenges of the workforce in Elder Care. This is the opening session of our Workforce series. which will identify practices within The Green House model that create the potential for successful workforce development. Register>>
  • Living with Dementia: New Perspectives, March 22 (3:00p ET). Dr. Al Power, author of Dementia Beyond Drugs and Dementia Beyond Disease, will look at the experience of dementia through the frame of well-being, and explore how this perspective is challenged, both by brain changes, our attitudes, and care systems. Register>>

A Global Community of Thought Leaders at The Green House Annual Meeting

“Waves of Change, Oceans of Opportunity” became more than a theme for the 2017 Green House Annual Meeting, it became a rallying cry. The world is at a pivotal point, and the meeting tapped into the collective potential of an innovative group to help shape the future. Over 250 people from around the globe converged in sunny Florida to connect, learn and grow. Hosted by the progressive and gracious John Knox Village, attendees were able to experience the potential of The Green House model, firsthand. Coming on the heels of the devastating Hurricane Irma, The Green House community came together to raise over $1200 for disaster relief, including many in-kind donations.  Engaged and generous sponsors add to the rich tapestry of learning, and enhance the conference experience.  Through challenging speakers, interactive opportunities, and recognition of the global voice, the ripples of the time together will continue to be felt for a long time.

Sharpen your skills in the kitchen!  This was the challenge put out to direct care staff who were invited to participate in a “Chop Chef” style competition in the onsite training kitchen at John Knox Village. Under the guidance of Chef Mark of John Knox Village and Chef Ian from Christian Cares in Kentucky, direct care staff gained valuable skills in the kitchen, build strong relationships with peers and deepened their understanding of being an empowered staff member.

Over 40 Executives including representatives from 8 countries participated in a stimulating and challenging session about Social Entrepreneurship led by Green House Board President, Scott Townsley. The commitment and vision of these leaders to share their voice, demonstrates the power of a community of thought leaders to change a paradigm.

The conference opened with keynote speaker, James Wright, challenging the group to explore the meaning and value of diversity in the workplace. Through interactive exercises to uncover unconscious bias and understand the difference between equity and equality, Mr. Wright’s message became a thread for meaningful discussion throughout the conference, and perhaps a new lens to view the world.

Monique, shahbaz at Weinberg Green House homes in Detroit, MI

The Green House Annual Meeting welcomes every role within The Green House model, believing that sharing an education space leads to some incredible conversations and epiphanies. For example, in the closing plenary session, when Monique, a direct care staff member from Detroit, stood up and said, “this is not a job, this is a career”, there was electricity throughout the room, and a heightened understanding that workforce development is essential to ensure sustainable success of Green House homes. The education sessions range from important macro topics like “What You Need to Know About the New CMS Regulations to Lead the Way” to nuts and bolts topics like how to engage in constructive conflict. Facilitated networking through an exercise called “Words Make Worlds”, led to

Words to Leave Behind was followed by a round of Words Make Worlds

spirited conversation, and many creative expressions of words to take forward, and those to leave behind. There is value provided at a strategic level and an operational level, and the interaction that occurs is priceless.

Yaron from Israel, and Janet from Alaska reunited after meeting 8 years ago at Seward Mountain Haven

Last year, one of the far reaching visions was that Green House would “Go Global”. At the time, it seemed like a dream, and then international visionaries began to reach out about bringing Green House to their community. This year, representatives from Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Israel, Indonesia, Panama and Singapore participated in The Green House conference, and an International Think Tank where ideas and possibility spread through the room like wild fire. One participant remarked that what may have started as a ‘project’ is now far more than that… it is The Green House Movement! Everyone left with a ‘fire in their belly’ to make meaningful change. Conversations and plans have continued full force, and there are now expansive opportunities for Green House to impact the needs of aging individuals on a global scale.

The Green House Annual Meeting is always an energizing time for those who are exploring, implementing and sustaining the model to connect with their peers and deepen their understanding. This year brought new elements that challenged the group to deepen their role as a community of thought leaders and lead society as an inclusive and innovative force that celebrates the intrinsic worth of EVERY individual.   The Green House movement has the energy and vision to disrupt the status quo and propel a dynamic system to new heights amidst a rapidly changing world.

New York Times Calls The Green House, “A Better Kind of Nursing Home”

Green Hill, West Orange, NJ

At The Green House, vision is merged with rigor, passion with determination, and a belief  that there’s never a best that can’t be made better.   In their article, “A Better Kind of Nursing Home”, The New York Times says, The Green House model is demonstrating that life in long term care can be different. With real life experiences to support the movement, and world-class research to keep improving, the potential for future impact is vast.

“Lots of things look different when you step into a small Green House nursing home.  The bright living and dining space, filled with holiday baubles at this season. The adjacent open kitchen, where the staff is making lunch. The private bedrooms and baths. The lack of long stark corridors, medication carts and other reminders of hospital wards.”

Robyn Grant, public policy director for The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, emphasizes that the goal of this shift that The Green House Project is leading means “deinstitutionalizing nursing homes, making them more like the way we’ve lived all our lives, with our own routines and familiar objects.”

Green Hill hearth decorated for holidays

The national initiative has committed itself to the rigors of research in pursuit of continued growth.  Research has shown that model components such as consistent and increased staffing, lead to deep knowing of the elder and early detection of health changes, “The [THRIVE] researchers found that Green House residents were 16 percent less likely to be bedridden, 38 percent less likely to have pressure ulcers and 45 percent less likely to have catheters. Avoidable hospitalizations and readmissions were also lower, reassuring observers who wondered if the Green Houses’ emphasis on quality of life meant sacrificing quality of care.”

In a dynamic world and healthcare landscape, it is essential to be a part of the solution. The Green House Project “Compared to traditional nursing homes, no doubt about it,” said Dr. Sheryl Zimmerman of the THRIVE research team. “It’s a preferable model of care.”

Read the Full New York Times Article>>