Green House Blog

Dr. Atul Gawande Examines Life Worth Living in Green House Homes

This month, Dr. Atul Gawande is promoting the release of his new book, “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End,” which challenges readers to think carefully about the decisions they make for themselves and their loved ones at the end of life.

During an interview with the Diane Rehm Show on NPR this week, Dr. Gawande asked listeners to strive for more than simply “a good death.” Instead, he says we must ask ourselves what brings the most meaning and purpose to our lives and fill our days with those things, to the best of our ability, until we die. During the interview, Dr. Gawande mentions The Green House Project as an organization that is working tirelessly to expand a model of autonomy, growth, and purposeful living to individuals at the end of their lives. The full interview transcript is here, in addition to the audio recording.

At an appearance in Washington, D.C. last night, Dr. Gawande spoke to a crowd of over two hundred people about the innovative approach of The Green House model in skilled nursing care. In Chapter 5 of his new book he writes that Green House homes are “…designed to pursue that idea that a life worth living can be created…by focusing on food, homemaking, and befriending others.”

The loneliness, helplessness and boredom so often experienced by those living out the end of their lives in long-term care institutions should not be the norm in this country. We need innovative approaches, like The Green House model, which are built on the belief that every person, up until their last breath, should have the freedom to feel empowered and engaged in their life.

Dr. Bill Thomas and Beth Baker Discuss 7th Annual Green House Conference

The theme of the 7th Annual Green House Meeting and Celebration this November in Memphis is Leading with Heart and Soul. We are excited to have both Dr. Bill Thomas and freelance journalist and author Beth Baker as our opening and closing plenary speakers, respectively. We caught up with Bill and Beth at The Pioneer Network’s 14th Annual Conference in Kansas City, Missouri to hear more about what Leading with Heart and Soul means to them.

“It means bringing passion into what you do, believing in it…” Dr. Thomas began, going on to say that we all have a moral imperative to help people find new ways to live in the community, including those living with frailty and dementia.

Beth agreed and added that leading with heart and soul is honoring a person’s desire for independence and autonomy as well as their need to balance this with strong relationships and connection to a greater community. For Beth this is what interdependence is all about and will be a key theme of her closing plenary.

“In Green House homes it is interdependence that defines the relationship between Shahbazim and Elders,” Dr. Thomas concluded. “People in each group need each other. Being a part of a community means that we need each other.”

Visit our Facebook page to see a video from this discussion and hear more from Bill and Beth at our Annual Meeting this November at The Peabody Memphis in TN. Green House adopters can register here: https://greenhouseproject.wufoo.com/forms/7th-annual-green-house-meeting-and-celebration/

The Historic Peabody Memphis Hotel

We are excited that The Peabody Memphis Hotel is the host site of our 7th Annual Green House Meeting and Celebration this November for adopters of the Green House model!  What is so special about this hotel? The Peabody, a AAA Four-Diamond, Forbes Four-Star hotel, has served its guests with Southern hospitality since 1869. The hotel was built in theheart of downtown Memphis making it an ideal location for exploring historic sites and immersing yourself in the barbecue, blues and rock ‘n’ roll that define Memphis culture.

And then there’s the ducks.

Legend of The Peabody Ducks

In the 1930s, Frank Schutt, General Manager of The Peabody, and a friend, Chip Barwick, came back from an Arkansas hunting trip. They had a bit too much to drink and thought it would be funny to put their live duck decoys in the beautiful Peabody fountain. Three small English call ducks were used and the reaction was enthusiastic. Soon, five North American Mallard ducks replaced the originals.

In 1940, Bellman Edward Pembroke, a former circus animal trainer, offered to assist with delivering the ducks to the fountain each day, teaching them the now-famous Peabody Duck March. Mr. Pembroke became the Peabody Duckmaster and held that role for 50 years.

After nearly 80 years, the marble fountain in the Peabody lobby is still graced with ducks that march at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily.

As our 7th Annual Meeting and Celebration quickly approaches, we look forward to spending time with our adopters learning and growing at this historic landmark. And of course, we are looking for a volunteer Duckmaster for our time there to lead the daily duck march with heart and soul.

 

Reducing Readmissions and Healthcare Costs: The Green House Solution

In a recent issue of McKnight’s, I saw this headline – “Reducing readmissions should be No. 1 priority for reducing healthcare costs, quality experts say.”    That was a key conclusion of a recent online poll from 300 members of the American Society for Quality (ASQ) , which describes itself as the “largest network of quality resources and experts in the world” and includes prominent long-term care quality consultants.

It doesn’t take a quality expert to realize that reducing preventable readmissions is a great way to reduce healthcare costs.  By definition, “preventable” means wasted money.  In addition to saving money, reducing readmissions improves the quality of life for Elders, by minimizing the stress and disruption hospital admission causes.

Another article in McKnights from a couple of months ago suggests that pressure ulcer stats are the most reliable indicator of the likely readmission rate from a particular nursing home.  Based on an analysis of data from 4,000 hospitals, HSR: Health Services Research found that pressure ulcer prevalence in particular predicts whether a nursing home will readmit residents.

Can Green House homes help reduce readmissions?  The answer is a resounding “yes!”  In preliminary research (a complete study will be available later this year from the THRIVE research team), traditional nursing homes had readmission rates that were 7 points higher than Green House homes.  A related study found that the incidence of pressure ulcers in Green House homes was “significantly lower” than the incidence in traditional homes.

The bottom line?  The THRIVE research team concluded that the “overall difference in total Medicare and Medicaid costs per resident over 12 months (sum of hospitalization and daily care costs (RUG costs)) ranged from approximately $1,300 to $2,300 less for residents in Green House vs. traditional nursing homes” depending on RUG rates in the state.

Registration Open! 7th Annual Green House Meeting & Celebration

 

Dust off your cowboy boots, brush up on your Elvis impersonation and save room for some of the country’s best BBQ!  The 7th Annual Green House Meeting and Celebration for Green House adopters is going to be in Memphis, Tennessee on November 17-19. 

This year’s conference will take place at the historic and incredibly beautiful Peabody Memphis hotel. The Peabody Memphis is located near Beale Street, a melting pot of delta blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll, R &B and gospel. That’s where music legends like Louis Armstrong, Memphis Minnie, Muddy Waters, and B.B. King made their mark.  It’s no surprise that Memphis is known as Blues City.

Our site visit this year will be to Ave Maria in Bartlett, TN where there are four Green House homes- St. Francis, St. Anne, St. Joseph and St. Mary. These homes replaced an aging nursing home wing (circa 1956) and have allowed Elders to thrive in real homes that offer meaningful life and empowered care partners.

This year’s theme, Leading with Heart and Soul, will flourish amid this magnificent mecca where musical legends combined soul with talent and passion to become the pioneers for American musical genres.

The Green House Annual Meeting & Celebration is an excellent opportunity to connect with fellow Green House pioneers, to learn, grow, and leave inspired to lead well, as we continue to champion change that meaningfully impacts the lives of Elders.

 

National Nursing Home Week® 2014 Success Stories

Green House adopters and enthusiasts across the country came together last month during National Nursing Home Week to educate their local communities and policymakers about The Green House difference. This year, the American Health Care Association used the Hawaiian theme, “Living the Aloha Spirit,” for the week. The Green House model’s core values of Meaningful Life, Empowered Staff, and Real Home, aligned closely with this year’s theme and we were excited to invite communities across the country to see the difference that our model offers for elders and their families.

Here are just some of our success stories from that week:

  • From February 2014 to today, we have gained 220 followers on Twitter totaling 1,635
  • From April 2014 to today, we have received 73 new likes on Facebook totaling 2,483
  • Two templates were added to our Support the Movement page
    • Sample Letter to the Editor
    • Sample Letter to a Policymaker
  • Editorial from the Guide at The Green House Homes at VA Illiana Health Care System in Danville, IL was printed in two local papers
  • The Guide with the Green House homes at Mirasol in Lakewood, CO wrote an editorial
  • Three policymakers site visits occurred in conjunction with National Nursing Home Week:
  • Photos like the one you see above from St. Martin’s in the Pines in Birmingham, AL were shared and added to our Flickr account

A big thank you to all who participated!

Want to learn more? Visit our Support the Movement page and use our policymaker site visit letter and editorial sample and share these tools with your Green House home friends and colleagues.

Contact Meaghan McMahon at (mmcmahon@capitalimpact.org) with your questions or comments.

Anna Ortigara, MSN, Honored by Long-Term Living Magazine

We’re not surprised…but we are very pleased to hear that our colleague and friend Anna Ortigara is one of the four people selected this year to receive Long-Term Living Magazine’s 2014 Long-Term Living Leaders of Tomorrow award.

The award honors individuals who are “…making a difference in their towns and states while serving as exemplar model for others across the country” as leaders in the long-term and post-acute care field.

For the past six years Anna was the Resource Director for The Green House Project.  She was a passionate and driven team member who played an integral role in developing our educational program including countless tools and resources.

Earlier this month, Long-Term Living Magazine published a profile of Anna and the incredible work that she has done over the years, including her work before Green House and the role she holds now as an organizational change consultant with the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (PHI).  In the article, Anna talks about the importance of educating others about communication and team-based problem-solving skills and says, “I’ve come to really believe that using a coaching approach to leading change as the model or framework creates the capacity, the possibility of all the rest of the transformation for the organization.”

Talk about Green House Core Values during National Nursing Home Week® 2014

Are you interested in spreading the word about the Green House model and bringing Green House homes to your community? You’re invited to join Green House adopters and enthusiasts across the country next week during National Nursing Home Week® to educate your local communities and policymakers about The Green House difference.

This year, the American Health Care Association is using the Hawaiian theme, “Living the Aloha Spirit,” for National Nursing Home Week. According to their website, this aloha spirit means that “… the people of Hawaii are encouraged to treat others with deep care, respect and humility, leading to individuals creating a better world.” The Green House model’s core values of Meaningful Life, Empowered Staff, and Real Home, align closely with this year’s theme and we are excited to invite communities across the country to see the difference that our model offers.

Want to get involved next week? Click the Calendar of Events below for details.

 

Contact Meaghan McMahon at (mmcmahon@capitalimpact.org) with your questions or to share success stories, photos and letters.

Green House Model Integrity Initiative and Questionnaire

Since the beginning of this year, the Peer Network Model Integrity Committee has worked hard to establish goals for creating a benchmarking system based on the Green House Project core values and clearly defined essential practices. These goals are:

–          To develop a credible, efficient, and effective system to monitor, assist and promote excellence among Green House Model adopters

–          To create this system using a set of Standards of Excellence that in content and application become the gold standard in benchmarking superior performance in  Long-Term Care

This initiative, led by the Peer Network Model Integrity Committee in partnership with Peer Network Project Guide Marla DeVries and consultant Sandy Ransom, will include both quantitative and qualitative elements.  According to Sandy, “We want to be able to clearly show, in quantifiable terms, the Green House difference. This will enable both adopters and the Green House Project Team to definitively show that general long-term care expectations are exceeded in Green House homes, and people experience a greater sense of home and autonomy.”

In order to establish a system that will work for all communities, we will be sending a questionnaire to each adopter organization this summer that asks for information regarding Meaningful Life, Empowered Staff and Real Home and the essential practices that comprise each value. There will also be questions regarding each adopter’s current data collection processes.

This process will allow us to successfully implement and sustain the integrity of the Green House model now and in the years to come.

 

Introduction of H.R. 4122 for Reauthorization of Older Americans Act

Today, President Barack Obama proclaimed May 2014 as Older Americans Month and so it seems timely to take a look at where reauthorization of the Older Americans Act of 1965 stands.  Although there isn’t visible progress on proposed legislation on the hill these days, it is encouraging to see certain policymakers take up the cause for Reauthorization of the Older Americans Act. Last year, the Older Americans Act Reauthorization Act of 2013 (S.1562) was introduced in the Senate to address the fact that authorization ended in 2011 and critical funding for the Act’s programs are in jeopardy.

On February 28th of this year, H.R. 4122 was introduced in the House of Representatives as a bill “to reauthorize the Older Americans Act of 1965, and for other purposes.” The bill was introduced by Representative Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) with Rep. Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX) and Rep. George Miller (D-CA). What makes this bill unique is that it goes further than simply reauthorizing the Older American Act by including other provisions to protect the health and well-being of older adults.

According to Peter Notarstefano at Leading Age, some of these provisions include:

–          Creation of Federal Database to address Elder Abuse and Neglect

–          New standards for screening and assessment at OAA Nutrition Programs

–          Plans to modernize community senior centers

–          Increased service availability for person-centered transportation

–          Improved resource access for LGBT Older Adults

In addition to H.R. 4122, a bill to simply reauthorize the Older Americans Act (H.R. 3850), was introduced on January 10, 2014 by Rep. Chris Gibson (R-NY) and cosponsors, Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY), and Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN).

 

Talk about The Green House Project during National Nursing Home Week® 2014

Are you interested in spreading the word about the Green House model and bringing Green House homes to your community? You’re invited to join Green House adopters and enthusiasts across the country during National Nursing Home Week from May 11-17 to educate your local communities and policymakers about The Green House difference.

This year, the American Health Care Association is using the Hawaiian theme, “Living the Aloha Spirit,” for National Nursing Home Week. According to their website, the aloha spirit means that “… the people of Hawaii are encouraged to treat others with deep care, respect and humility, leading to individuals creating a better world.” The Green House model’s core values of Meaningful Life, Empowered Staff, and Real Home, align closely with this year’s theme and we are excited to invite communities across the country to see the difference that our model offers.

Want to get involved next month? Here’s how:

Write an op-ed in your local paper in support of the Green House model & share with us!

– If you’re already an adopter, invite local policymakers to “see the difference” by visiting your Green House home during that week and sharing photos with us

– Help us launch a “Get Connected” campaign and share your National Nursing Home Week stories and photos using social media and connecting with us on Facebook and Twitter using #EldersRule

Need a template to get started? Visit our Support the Movement page and use our policymaker site visit letter and editorial sample and share these tools with your friends and colleagues. Contact Meaghan McMahon at (mmcmahon@capitalimpact.org) with your questions or to share success stories, photos and editorial letters.

Great Minds Gala at PEAK Leadership Summit

This year the Leading Age PEAK Leadership Summit will be held March 17-19 in Washington D.C. and THE GREEN HOUSE® Project is excited to send some of our team members to the event.  This summit aims to expand the world of possibilities for aging; a vision we support and work toward wholeheartedly. Not only will we engage with peers in the field by attending sessions and exhibiting at the summit but also through our sponsorship of the Great Minds Gala.

The Great Minds Gala is a fundraising event that will honor Leading Age members and other individuals in the field who have shown courage and leadership as they work tirelessly to improve the lives of those affected by Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.  One honoree at the event will be Glen Campbell, renowned country music singer and actor, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2011.

You can join the summit conversation by following @LarryMinnix, @LeadingAge and @LeadingAgeCAST on Twitter using #PEAK14 or by liking the Leading Age PEAK Summit Facebook page.