Long Term Living magazine’s March issue rounds up the top 10 senior design innovations that have transformed nursing home and long term care in the past decade. It’s no surprise that The Green House Project not only makes the top 10, but it embodies nearly every other item on the list. Here’s a quick synopsis of the top 10 innovations compiled by Margaret P. Calkins, PhD, for Long Term Living:
- INTENTIONAL ELDER-FRIENDLY COMMUNITIES — The movement to create communities that allow not only aging in place, but aging in age-integrated communities, is among the most promising innovations of the past decade. Long practiced as public policy in places like Scandinavia, elder-friendly communities are popping-up all over the U.S. thanks to groups such as the Village to Village Network, supported by NCB Capital Impact, which also oversees implementation of The Green House Project. Baby boomers have the opportunity to reshaping aging by pioneering and demanding creation of elder-friendly communities.
- THE GREEN HOUSE® PROJECT — Labeled by Provider Magazineas “the pinnacle of culture change”, The Green House Project proves that it is not only possible to live in a small home and receive skilled nursing care, it is a financially feasible alternative to traditional nursing homes. As the article notes, the model is so radical, “that a lot of professional caregivers and nursing home administrators still don’t believe it can be done. And yet it is. Ask those who live or are employed in a Green House and they will tell you, in no uncertain terms, that it works.”
- CODIFYING PERSON-CENTERED CARE AND THE HOUSEHOLD MODEL — For many years a big hurdle to embracing culture change was the belief that person-centered care practices violated strict federal nursing home regulations. For instance, 10 years ago it was common to hear nursing home administrators argue you can’t “let” residents sleep because it violates the rules on time allowed between meals. In reality, forcing anyone to wake up against their will or bath and eat at specified times is a violation of their free will and dignity. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid agree agree and have clarified that culture change practices embodied in the Household Model of care are consistent with federal regulations. Right now there are nearly 2,000 elders living Green House Project homes who sleep in as long as they like, bath when they want and eat what they please.
- ELIMINATING THE NURSING STATION — Among the guideline changes that codified person-centered care was a change in policy stating that nursing stations are no longer required. Once dispensable, the nursing station is now seen as a barrier between staff and the people they care for.
- ELIMINATING THE MED CART — The plastic med cart is an icon of institutional care that “should be retired.” Smaller care environments and consistent staffing are key to eliminating the need of a med cart.
- SMALLER IS BETTER — “… virtually every study that has looked at resident/staff outcomes related to the size of resident groupings (units or households) concludes that outcomes are more positive with smaller groupings.” Independent studies of The Green House Project concur.
- BETTER BATHROOMS — Better bathrooms are great. Private bathrooms are better. The Green House Project model is the only financially viable nursing home alternative that provides private rooms and private bathrooms to all residents.
- LIGHTED GRAB BARS — This innovation is simple and brilliant. Most falls occur at night when elders get up to use the bathroom. Turning on the lights can be disorienting and turning them back off can cause temporary blindness. A lighted grab can help mitigate the risk of falls.
- BETTER CEILING LIFTS — Strain from lifting is the leading cause of injury for nursing home employees. Ceiling lifts are an excellent innovation to help protect care givers from injury.
- UNIVERSALLY DESIGNED IMPLEMENTS — Manufacturers are slowly produce a range of products specially designed to meet “Universal Design” principles. The products are usually larger, ergonomically correct and easier to grasp, operate or read.
As Calkin rightly points out, the post-war generation is poised to spur even more revolutionary design ideas as they live into their 60s, 70s and beyond. Read the full article 10 Senior Living Design Innovations here.