Recently, CMS announced important life safety regulatory changes that will support the creation of home in long-term care settings. All of these changes have been approved by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and are effective immediately. It is important to note that elder/resident safety and quality of life were held as top priorities throughout the process of revising the regulations. Among the changes are:
• Allowing open kitchens
• Allowing permanent seating groupings in corridors
• Allowing gas fireplaces in common areas
• Increasing the amount of wall space that may be covered by decorations
These changes are the result of three years of collaborative work by a taskforce known as the National Long-Term Care Life Safety Taskforce organized by The Pioneer Network. The taskforce consisted of individuals representing CMS, state survey agencies, provider associations, architects, researchers, culture change and life safety code experts.
The Green House Project was represented on the Taskforce by Robert Jenkens, Director. The stated goal of the group was to remove “unintended barriers to quality of life” found in the NFPA 101 Life Safety Code which is the standard used by CMS to regulate long-term care settings. These barriers came in the form of regulations that prevent the design of homes for elders/residents in certain ways that honor human needs, culture and preferences. Designing homes for the people who will live in them is a philosophy that is fundamental to The Green House model’s foundational principle of “creating home”.
What is “creating home”?
Creating home is a key culture change principle which holds as a top priority that long-term care environments must be viewed first as homes for the people who live in them. This contrasts the traditional medical model philosophy which held that long-term care settings were to be designed for the efficient delivery of care with little regard for the humanity and individuality of those who live and work there.
Better for everyone
These recent improvements to life safety code will better equip long-term care providers to successfully create home for the elders/residents they care for. While the new regulations are less prescriptive and more flexible, they do not compromise safety. Having increased flexibility to create homes that honor individuality, culture and meaningful engagement equips providers with the ability to accomplish more for the hard work they do and improve the quality of live for elders/residents in the process.
Adopters of The Green House model are intrinsically bound by their common commitment to elders, empowering caregivers and creating intentional communities that facilitate growth for all who live and work there. Like any group of professionals, GHP adopters share a need to network, collaborate and celebrate the wonderful work they do with others in their field.
Geographic isolation is one obstacle to personal interaction among Green House adopters. Adopters live and work in communities separated by hundreds and even thousands of miles. Another barrier to relationship building that GHP adopters face is cultural isolation. GHP adopters often experience isolation from their peers in the greater long-term care community because dramatic differences between The Green House model and traditional, institutional models of long-term care are often not widely appreciated.
Despite obstacles such as geographic and cultural isolation, The Green House Project Peer Network is evolving into an increasingly invaluable resource for GHP adopters. Built on the concept that working, sharing and celebrating together turns like-minded individuals into a vibrant community, the Peer Network is successfully circumventing the challenges inherent to geographic and cultural isolation. GHP adopters have embraced a long-term strategic plan that relies on careful management of their time and resources to facilitate opportunities for meaningful collaboration, celebration and relationship building.
The Peer Network will feature committees focused on areas of mutual need and interest such as education and peer support, model integrity, regulation, public policy and development of the next generations of Green House adopters. The Peer Network will work in a close partnership with the Green House Project Initiative staff on a wide array of issues that are crucial to the continued success and growth of The Green House model.
The Peer Network will utilize a blend of social media technology and in-person gatherings to facilitate regular interaction among adopters and members of The Green House Project team. Peer Network members will be active participants in their network as they plan and implement strategies aimed at supporting one another’s continued success and the promotion of model growth.
This is an incredibly exciting time in the evolution of the community of Green House Project adopters known as the Peer Network. The path they have chosen will lead them to fully realize the potential of their community. As a result they will emerge as stronger advocates for elderhood and the empowerment of caregivers. Their wealth of knowledge, passion and experience will be leveraged to carry The Green House movement far into the future.