Green House Blog

The Wall Street Journal Exposes Common Myths of Aging

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal exposes many common myths of aging. Some of these myths have become so common, they could easily be mistaken for the truth. Have you ever heard someone say, “depression is a normal part of aging” or “cognitive impairment is inevitable with age”? This article clears the air for six big myths about aging.  You can read more here.

For many people, the myths of aging may have come from observing what Dr. Thomas calls the three plagues of long-term care: loneliness, helplessness, and boredom.  Fortunately, the culture change movement is showing us what aging is really all about – another stage of growth and development for all people.

CMS Five-Star Rating Program Update

The President and CEO of The American Health Care Association (AHCA), Mark Parkinson, recently released a statement to AHCA members regarding President Obama’s Executive Action on October 6th to improve the Five-Star Rating Program.

As a result of the President’s Executive Action, the Five-Star Program, created by CMS six years ago, will change in two key ways. First, payroll data will be collected in order to improve accuracy of staffing information. Second, the administration has developed three new quality measures that will be added to the nine existing measures: rehospitalizations, discharge back to community and antipsychotic use.

According to Parkinson, “As CMS changes the staffing and quality measures, it will need to create new scoring and therefore, new cut points. This inevitably will impact the staffing scores and quality measure scores for a significant number of providers.”  In light of this, AHCA has issued a collective call to action in order to educate providers, legislators and CMS about the potential problems that may result from the Executive Action.

To learn more about the history of the program and AHCA’s call to action, read the full statement here.

Project Update: Occupancy Faster Than Anticipated for First Green House Homes in Minnesota

It’s the kind of issue that all marketing directors are happy to manage—an unexpected “rush” of Elders that want to move in ASAP to your new Green House homes!  Well that is precisely what happened at Water’s Edge in Mankato, Minnesota.

Since the first Elders moved in this past August…there has been a whirlwind of activity to welcome Elders into their new homes and to make sure that all hiring and training is accomplished on time.  In fact, during the first week of opening their first home, they moved in 9 Elders!  “We certainly hadn’t planned it that way,” said Director of Operations, Brooke Olson, “but it’s not a bad problem to have so many Elders want to move in when you first open your doors!”

Water’s Edge is comprised of three assisted living Green House homes, each with 12 private bedrooms.  They are operated by Grace Senior Services.  The owners, Brad and Heather Bass have long been committed to serving Elders in their community.  They opened their first adult day service in their home more than 18 years ago.  They currently have several senior housing cooperatives, and adult foster care program, two assisted living communities and now the new Green House homes at Water’s Edge.

The second home is nearly full, so training and hiring will begin for the third home very shortly.  The plan for Water’s Edge had always included a position for Marketing and Elder Enrichment, but they were not going to fill it until much later.  However, with the pace of occupancy, they decided that the role was going to be needed much sooner.  In September, they welcomed Rachel Carpenter to their team.

We congratulate Water’s Edge on their success and wish them only the best moving forward!

Long Term Care Community Coalition Reception Honors Mary Jane Koren

The Green House Project is proud to help support the Long Term Care Community Coalition’s Sixth Annual Reception celebrating the life and work of Mary Jane Koren, M.D., M.P.H. at the Alzheimer’s Association chapter in New York City.

The Coalition is honoring Dr. Koren at a reception on October 22nd for her dedication and passion for improving the lives of seniors in her work and research. Some of her accomplishments include 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.

We are excited to celebrate Dr. Koren’s accomplishments and support the Coalition’s mission to improve care, quality of life and dignity for elders and the disabled.

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/

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.

 

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.

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).

 

Dr. Bill Thomas’ Second Wind Tour Kickoff

Dr. Bill Thomas’ Second Wind Tour kicks off in three weeks. As a sponsor, THE GREEN HOUSE® Project is busy getting ready to revolutionize the national conversation around nursing homes, by bringing attention to our person-centered model with an emphasis on each person living a meaningful life. We are taking this message on the road and hitting 25 cities along the way!

Inspired by Thomas’ new book examining the baby boom generation’s reluctant generational second coming of age—“Second Wind: Navigating the Passage to a Slower, Deeper and More Connected Life” (published by Simon and Schuster March 11 and named by Publisher’s Weekly as a Top 10 Social Science book of 2014)—the Second Wind Tour will visit 25 cities on a national bus tour from March 31-June 6, 2014.

Each half-day performance will be held in a premier theater with two acts. Act one will consist of five fast-paced theatrical monologues featuring a cast of speakers including Dr. Thomas, Susan Frazier or David Farrell of THE GREEN HOUSE® Project, and renowned consumer health expert and TV personality Dr. Janet Taylor. The second act blends the illumination of the deep connections between music, identity, and memory in the form a “marvelous surprise” documentary film preview by director Michael Rossato-Bennett followed by a live musical performance by Musicians for World Harmony founder Samite Mulondo.

If you are interested in attending one of these performances, please visit the Second Wind Tour Website, http://secondwindtour.org/. If you are not near a tour stop or unable to attend, we still want you to be involved! Join the social media conversation by following The Green House Project, @GreenHouse_Proj, and the Second Wind Tour by using the hashtag #secondwindtour.

We are so grateful for the opportunity to spread the Green House vision across America!

Senate Bill 1562: Older Americans Act Reauthorization Act of 2014

Keeping track of what is happening in Congress is no easy task- but here is some news that will interest all of us because it affects elders across the country. Last September, Senator Bernard (“Bernie”) Sanders (I-VT) introduced a bill to reauthorize the Older Americans Act (OAA) of 1965 and funding for its programs for FY2014-FY2018.

The Older Americans Act established the United States Administration on Aging (AoA) as well as state aging agencies that provide a comprehensive network of community based services for older adults that allow them to live meaningful lives in their homes and communities.  The Act is comprised of seven titles that are primarily funded by the AoA except for Title V, a senior employment opportunity program, funded by the Department of Labor. Included in the OAA is the long-term care ombudsman program, nutrition services, grants for Native Americans, support services for caregivers, employment opportunities for older adults, elder abuse prevention programs and transportation assistance.

If you’d like to learn more about the Older Americans Act and the bill to reauthorize it please visit:

The National Council on Aging

AARP Policy Institute

National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities

Seniors Aid New Hampshire at the Pioneer Network Conference

Last month, at the Pioneer Network 2013 Conference, a session entitled “Networking Elders to Provide Them with a Greater Voice,” engaged audience members by inviting Elders themselves to talk about their peer networking and advocacy work.  These Elders were introduced as members of an organization called “Seniors Aid New Hampshire” (SANH). They are a community of Elders that live in Nursing Homes, Assisted Living and Independent living settings throughout their state. With the help of a conference call line, they have joined together each month over the past seven years to host senators, state representatives and members of government agencies in addition to advancing their own community organizing and advocacy agenda. As a result of their organizing, these Elders even provided video testimony in a Senate Committee hearing regarding medication administration.

SANH began in the summer of 2006, when Elders living at different Nursing Homes and Assisted-Living communities in New Hampshire determined that it was “unacceptable for people to go to bed hungry.” The group was assisted by the  New Hampshire Health Care Association in creating a forum for fund-raising and communication to occur. In the early years this group called themselves “Seniors Feed New Hampshire” and in the first year alone raised $42K to assist the New Hampshire Food Bank. In later years the group gained momentum, changed their name and began to focus on other areas of interest that provide opportunities for meaningful resident work and creating communication between Elders living in different long-term care residences across the state.

The session at the Pioneer Network Conference was facilitated by Darlene Cray, a Long-Term Care Ombudsman and Statewide Volunteer Coordinator in New Hampshire and Mark Latham, Administrator of Pleasant View Center, a Nursing Home in Concord, New Hampshire.  In addition to the panel of SANH members, Kathleen Otte from the Administration for Community Living also joined by phone, as well as Jennifer Hilliard, Public Policy Attorney from Leading Age and representatives from Senator Larsen’s office. During the session, Darlene Cray reminded attendees that “When we focus on the ability of the individual, we see Elders.”

The American Healthcare Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) named Seniors Aid New Hampshire as their 2012 National Group Volunteer of the Year.