Green House Blog

Joan Lunden on Planning for the Future and Finding Resources for our Elders

The American Society on Aging’s bi-monthly newsletter, Aging Today, interviewed Joan Lunden about her work with A Place for Mom and the need for having a plan in place for your aging parents. Lunden uses her platform as former Good Morning America host to advocate for senior care.

Aging Today asked Lunden about her mother and the obstacles she faced while caring for her:

I was so unprepared, and had no plan in place. I’m sorry to say that I think [that’s] typical. It’s just part of human nature—we want to think of ourselves as kids and our parents as in charge, impenetrable decision makers. But there comes a time when they’re not. … The day you have to become a parent to your parent is unnatural, and uncomfortable. You don’t want to burden your parents by asking what their plans are for later life, you don’t want to be presumptive or make them feel awkward, but if we don’t ask, [their care] might financially devastate our own family. And our parents are reluctant to answer, which is also part of human nature because it represents their mortality.

It is important to establish a plan for the elders in our lives, so the people who mean the most to us are taken care of in a healthy setting. Green House homes offer home for life in an empowering environment so that our loved ones experience meaningful life.

Click here to read the full interview.

Dr. Mary Jane Koren Highlights Dr. Bill Thomas at LTCCC Event

Last month, The Green House Project  helped sponsor the Long Term Care Community Coalition’s Sixth Annual Reception which honored the life and work of Mary Jane Koren, M.D., M.P.H. at the Alzheimer’s Association chapter in New York City.  Dr. Koren’s experience includes her work as Vice President for LTC Quality Improvement at The Commonwealth Fund and her position as past chair of Advancing Excellence: Long-Term Care Collaborative.

During her acceptance speech, Dr. Koren shared that, “…between 1950 and 2050, there will be a 10-fold increase in the percent of the population over 85, which is exactly the age cohort most dependent on long-term care services and supports.” She argued that the best way to address this need is to move away from a model that “…puts institutional priorities ahead of resident choice…” and instead follow Dr. Bill Thomas’ lead in creating long-term care models that alleviate loneliness, helplessness and boredom. She shared with the audience that, “Bill Thomas’ philosophy, even at that early stage was, for me an epiphany. I suddenly ‘got’ OBRA’87 in a way I never had before.”

You can read Dr. Koren’s full speech here.

Congratulations to Dr. Koren for her work as a thought leader and innovator in the aging field! We appreciate the work you have done to make the Green House model a reality for so many elders nationwide.


The Green House Homes at Legacy Village Win Celebrate Arkansas Magazine Award

Congratulations to The Green House Homes at Legacy Village! Celebrate Arkansas Magazine has announced Legacy Village as their winner for “Very BEST Award for Retirement Living.”  This reader’s choice award speaks to the consumer driven demand for quality long term care that offers a real home to elders.  We are so proud to see Legacy Village recognized for the way they are changing elder living for the better, with real home, meaningful life and empowered staff.  You can look for the article announcing The Green House Homes at Legacy Village as the winner of the “Very BEST Award for Retirement Living” in the December issue of Celebrate Arkansas Magazine.

Join us at the Leading Age Annual Meeting and Expo

We hope you join us in Nashville at the Leading Age Annual Meeting and Expo October 19-22. The meeting “connects thousands of aging services professionals who are facing the same triumphs and challenges that you face every day.”

Come see us at booth 2331 where you will have a chance to win Atul Gawanded’s new book, Being Mortal, which highlights The Green House model as a place to live a meaningful life. Additionally, we are co-guitar-slider.jpghosting the Reception for Person Centered Care Leaders, along with the Eden Alternative, LifeBio, It’s Never 2 Late and Penner Spas. And on Wednesday, October 22, from 1:30pm – 3:00pm you will have a chance to hear us speak in a breakout session called Green House homes: Challenges and Opportunities.

We look forward to seeing you there as we re-define age.

7th Annual Green House Conference in November – A Time to Connect

At The Green House Annual Meeting, organizations gain strength from each other around implementing and sustaining this model.  Connecting to share lessons learned and best practices of this paradigm shift in Long Term Care is one of the most valuable parts of being a trademarked Green House home.

This year’s conference for Green House adopters will take place November 17-19, at the historic Peabody Memphis Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee. Our theme, Leading with Heart and Soul, is ideal for this magnificent mecca where musical legends combined soul with talent and passion to become the pioneers for American musical genres…much like The Green House Project has pioneered the transformation of long-term care.

 

TIME FOR A ROAD TRIP!

The Green House Annual Meeting & Celebration can be a wonderful time for a road trip!  That’s right…why not drive to the conference and miss all the hassle of flying these days?  Well, that is exactly the decision that was made by team members last year from the Green House Homes at Willow Ridge in Blufton, Ohio.

 

Their new Guide, Barb Lawrence, shared the following memories from the trip:

Last year, four Shahbazim (Paula, Tammy, Terry, and I), one nurse (Coral), the Guide (Rhonda), and the Fund Development person (Doug) rented a van and drove to Boston for the Green House Annual Conference.

Paula and Terry were from one team, and Tammy and I were from the other team at Willow Ridge.  The 14-hour van ride allowed for much bonding opportunity.  We shared about our personal lives as well as our experiences thus far working in the Green House homes.  We played trivia games that we found on our phones, we enjoyed the beautiful landscapes of Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and Massachusetts, and enjoyed one another’s company.  We texted folks back home (we’re not there yet!), we listened to music, and some read books.

Mid-way through the trip, Doug said, “Do you want the good news or the bad news first?  The good news is that we are half-way to Boston!  The bad news is that we are ONLY half way to Boston!”

Once we got to Boston, Doug and Rhonda had to find a parking garage that would be tall enough to fit our 12-passenger van.  Boston buildings are small!

Leaving Boston was equally as challenging.  Since we left in the middle of the night (3:00 AM), many of the exits off of the highway were closed, and there were very few signs giving direction – it took over 45 minutes just to get out of the city!

The team is again taking a road trip to this years conference in Memphis and Barb is quick to point out that “it’s only half the distance to Boston!”

 

Tomah VA Medical Center Opens Two New Green House Homes

The Green House Project is proud to say that two new Green House homes have opened in Tomah, Wisconsin at The Tomah VA Medical Center. On August, 13th The Tomah VA celebrated their home openings with a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony.

Mario V. DeSanctis, the Medical Director at Tomah VA Medical Center remarked, “This is the future of skilled nursing care and we are proud to join the Danville VA (Ill.), Lovell Federal Health Center (Ill.) and Milwaukee, Wis., in providing this new concept of care for Veterans.  We believe this transformation of care will dramatically enrich our Veterans lives and the lives of the next generation of Veterans.”

Tomah VA Medical Center has named their homes Patriots’ Place and Heroes’ House. These  two homes will serve veterans in need of skilled nursing care.  Veterans will move in during the month of September.  You can read more about the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the Tomah VA Medical Center here.

The Ribbon Cutting Ceremony was also highlighted on WKBT News, you can see the news clip here.

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/

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.

 

The Second Wind Tour: Act III Begins

When we heard that Bill Thomas was working on a “non-fiction theatrical experience” we knew this would be a once in a lifetime chance to join a national conversation about what it means to age in today’s culture. From March 31st to June 6th we have visited 25 cities with Bill Thomas’ Second Wind Tour.  It has been such an experience to be on the road touring with visionaries in elder care. But even more exciting were the discussions we had with attendees who want to change how we think about the aging process.

In two acts, the performance used a blend of the spoken word, innovative set design, film and music to stimulate a new conversation about aging, and to re-frame “life after adulthood” as an exciting stage of human growth and development.

The third act, as Bill Thomas told us, is up to us.  That means it’s up to all of us to continue the national conversation the Second Wind Tour started.  With the help of the people who participated in the tour, and all the others who know there’s need for change, we can change the misconception of what it means to age.

We are so thankful for the local support and the positive energy that came from the audience at every performance and every event.  We can see now, more than ever, our country is ready for a new way to care for elders.  We are thrilled to be a part of this journey.

If you couldn’t join us, you can get a glimpse of the show with this video.

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.

Learn New Skills to Keep a Healthy Mind

Green House Homes are known for providing a healthy and stimulating environment to their elders. Meaningful life is key to the Green House Project’s mission. And now there is research to support the importance of intellectual stimulation as one ages.

The Association for Psychological Science conducted a study whereby 221 people, ages 60-80 were randomly assigned an activity to engage in, ranging from learning a new skill to participating in more familiar activities, to study the effects on one’s memory.

“Some participants were assigned to learn a new skill — digital photography, quilting, or both — which required active engagement and tapped working memory, long-term memory and other high-level cognitive processes.

Other participants were instructed to engage in more familiar activities at home, such as listening to classical music and completing word puzzles. And, to account for the possible influence of social contact, some participants were assigned to a social group that included social interactions, field trips, and entertainment.”

The results indicated that those who learned a new skill showed improvements in their memory.

“‘It seems it is not enough just to get out and do something — it is important to get out and do something that is unfamiliar and mentally challenging, and that provides broad stimulation mentally and socially,’ says psychological scientist and lead researcher Denise Park of the University of Texas at Dallas. ‘When you are inside your comfort zone, you may be outside of the enhancement zone.’”

THE GREEN HOUSE® Project strives to provide a home setting where elders can take part in any activity they wish, whether it be a familiar hobby or learning a new skill, to keep them engaged and living a meaningful life. So, get out there and take a photography class or learn to paint your surroundings, as it will have lasting effects on your memory.

Click here to read the full study.