Green House Blog

ProBuilder.com, Green House Innovative in Design and Model

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The Green House Cottages of Carmel, Carmel, IN

An intentionally built environment is crucial to support the success a person-directed home.  ProBuilder Magazine highlights innovation in senior care with a focus on the comprehensive transformation of The Green House model.  Green House “has three core values,” says senior director Susan Frazier Ryan, “real homes, meaningful life (culture) and empowered staff (organizational change/human architecture, all of which help an elder live the best life.”

This article features innovative Green House homes, including St. John’s, the first

St. John's Penfield Green House homes in Rochester.  SWBR designed these homes in collaboration with the team from St. John's and The Green House Project
Penfield Green House homes of St. John’s, Rochester, NY

community integrated Green House homes as a model to influence future developers as they look to meet the needs of an aging population,”In 10 years, the first of the 77 million baby boomers will turn 80. That’s the age, say those involved in senior housing, where the intersection of the built environment and health is critical.”

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The Skilled Nursing Development Opportunity – Aspiring to Something More

I read with interest a recent article in Senior Housing News- Developers See Opportunity as Old Nursing Homes Become Obsolete. It’s great to see not only that people recognize that the stock of 40+ year old nursing homes is not going to cut it, but to hear the sentiment that the replacement of old nursing homes is an opportunity. But when we think about replacing nursing homes, what are the key considerations? Are we making the most of this opportunity by re-thinking them, or are we simply sprucing up the same institutional approach?

For nursing home providers considering a significant renovation, the article makes the point to do your homework. “Given the relative aging of the post-acute care facilities, some providers are finding that it’s more cost-effective to develop new facilities rather than redesign multiple decades-old properties.”

Also think about the long-term value of your renovation investment – a renovated facility will look good today compared to what’s available, but how will it look against the competition in 20 years? How will it fare as consumer demands continue to evolve?

What I love about the nursing home model discussed in this article is that it’s designed to be a community gathering place. Most current designs and locations segregate their older population from everyone else. This is bad for everybody – Elders don’t get to interact with anyone other than other older people. And younger people don’t have the opportunity to appreciate Elders and to benefit from everything they have to offer. Creating a space that is inviting to the surrounding community, families and friends is a great idea.

On the other hand, I got the sense that at their heart, these facilities are potentially the same old institutional nursing home in a prettier box. In addition to community space, this design will have examination rooms, because that’s what physicians want. As I hear providers embrace the “hospitality” model, with cafes, wireless and flat screen TVs, I wonder if anyone has asked Elders what they want.

I’m also wondering about how these new nursing homes will actually work. Will the design make it easier for people to get around or will it still have long hallways filled with workers hurrying from place to place (albeit on nice carpet)? Will the culture put people first, or will it simply be the same institutional approach? Will the people who work there develop real relationships with the Elders who live there? Is it designed to maintain dignity and create meaningful lives?

There’s no doubt that these new nursing homes will be a huge upgrade over what’s currently available to most people. They’ll be more attractive, and more comfortable than facilities built in the 1960’s, but will the experience really be that different?

If you ask people where they want to spend their last years, they’ll tell you “home.” When Elders are admitted into institutional skilled nursing facilities, they want to go “home.” If an Elder is in long term care, being physically at home is no longer an option. So what can “home” mean in that context? First off, I’m pretty confident it doesn’t mean something that looks like a hotel. I think it means a place that is comfortable and is familiar, and allows them to continue to live their lives as they would if they were living independently. It means having opportunities to make the choices we all expect as adults – when to get up, when to have meals and what to eat, how we spend our time. It means being able to do the things that make life meaningful, and to be respected and known as individuals.

So when we invest in new skilled nursing development, don’t redesign something based on today’s nursing homes. Start with the mission and important values. Think about a design that will work better for Elders and the people who work there. Let’s not squander the opportunity to create something new. Let’s aspire to something better than more attractive institutions.

Green House homes as an Innovation for Short-Term Rehabilitation

In the December print version of Long Term Living, an article by the Director of THE GREEN HOUSE® Project, David Farrell explores the new customer for Short Term Rehab and how The Green House model can meet their needs.

The customer for short-term rehabilitation is changing, and as the baby boomers continue to age, providers must adapt to meet the needs and desires of this influential demographic.  Long Term Living Magazine highlights one of these innovations, by demonstrating how rehabilitation thrives in a Green House setting.

This new patient is more empowered, more likely to question care decisions and seek alternate opinions, and generally be a more active participant in his or her care. The Boomer also expects to remain active, stimulated and social during recovery—not isolated and treated as frail. Given this significant shift in their consumer base, nursing homes must rethink their approach to short-term rehab (and long-term care, for that matter). Boomers will be seeking—and expecting—a lot of it in the coming years.

Director of The Green House Project, David Farrell, writes about this changing customer and the success of The Green House model to meet their needs by highlighting Leonard Florence Center for Living, “The reason that the Green House Project offers such a strong model for short-term rehab boils down to the concept of home. By making elders feel truly at home, the Green House model actually helps residents rehabilitate faster—and in a safer environment.”  Bob Richman experienced rehabilitation at Leonard Florence and shares the difference that he attributes to the real home environment, “I’ve been in skilled rehab two times: once at a traditional nursing home and once here in a Green House home. It’s not just the exercise here that gets you well again…it’s the people around you having a similar experience. It’s coming together around the table for our meals. It really works.”

It is not only the anecdotes of success, but also the data that is telling a positive story, ” On average nationwide, 20 percent of elders return to the hospital within their first 30 days of stay at a nursing home.At Leonard Florence, the rate has been half that—around 10 percent. Staff members also have reported an increase in the number of referrals from discharge planners, orthopedic doctors and repeat customers who need new procedures. ”

The Green House Project currently has 150 homes in 24 states around the country, and sees short term rehabilitation as an innovation that will continue to grow as the customer demands more personalized care in a setting that is both comfortable and effective.

Full Article in Long Term Living >>