Green House Blog

The First Green House Homes Turn 15 Years Old

“For thousands of years, elders have been held in high esteem and involved in the community,” says Steve McAlilly, CEO of Mississippi Methodist Senior Services. As the world shifted and the role of elders changed, Steve sought a way to bring them back to a place of reverence and respect. 15 years ago, Steve courageously opened the first Green House home in Tupelo, MS, effectively building a home where elders could live full and meaningful lives, “Within hours of moving in, a peace came over the home,” Steve remarks.

Not only do these homes positively effect the elders who live in them, but also the direct care staff who take on expanded roles to become the managers of the home. The skills that they learn in The Green House homes affect every area of their lives, “I’ve watched team members grow and thrive in the Green House” says Michele Daniel, VP of Philanthropy & Strategic Implementation. Mississippi Methodist Senior Services currently has 19 Green House homes on four separate campuses.

Returning the elders to a place of esteem, honor and respect is an investment in the quality of life of the entire community.

This 15 year milestone began with the vision of Dr. Bill Thomas and was embraced by Steve McAlilly’s leadership.  Thanks to the support of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, this radically simple innovation has become a proven movement that continues to grow with integrity and sustainability. Now with Green House homes open and operating in 33 states, small house nursing homes are a trend addressing many of the challenges in healthcare. The Green House model is demonstrating that the status quo is not good enough and that there is a better way. Thank you to Mississippi Methodist Senior Services, and all of The Green House partners who have opened their doors in the past 15 years. Together we are fostering environments of empowerment, dignity and respect, and a world where every individual can anticipate a hopeful future

Person-Directed Lives Exemplified Through Interviews

Lori Gonzalez, is a researcher with Claude Pepper Center at Florida State University. She wrote an Op-ed for a Tampa Bay newspaper about the need for Green House homes in the state, and the national initiative reached out to discuss further collaboration. Recently, The Claude Pepper Center had the opportunity to capture interviews at The Woodlands in John Knox Village, and highlight the words of the people living this model everyday.  Check them out here:

Highlighting Shahbaz, Darlene Scott at Porter Hills Green House homes

Empathy, compassion, honor and respect are just a few of the qualities required in those working with elders in THE GREEN HOUSE® homes. These qualities are extremely evident in Darlene Scott, a Shahbaz at the Porter Hills Green House homes in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

2Darlene has worked at Porter Hills since 1998 when she was hired as a certified nursing assistant in the Health and Rehab Center. After a short period of time, she was promoted to Unit Clerk and continued to prove she had the personality and skills needed to build strong and trusting relationships with residents. This ability to connect with those she served opened the door to a position as an activity coordinator.

While in this new role, Darlene took advantage of many educational opportunities to develop and hone her skills. This included becoming a Certified Eden Associate1

When Porter Hills decided to build two Green House® homes, Darlene was encouraged to consider working as a Shahbaz. “When I was presented with the opportunity to be a part of Green House® homes I thought, this is it, this is living out everything I have been trained to do. I had retained my CNA license which meant I qualified, so I decided to pursue this role that embodied my passion for elders.”

Darlene has worked as a Shahbaz since September of 2009 and enjoys the person-centered approach and the strong relationships developed. She has seen first-hand the impact that this unique approach to skilled care has on elders in the home.

“We had an elder who moved in with late stage dementia. She was high acuity, didn’t walk or talk, and was total care. Her son brought her here and told us that the doctor had said she had 6 months to a year left to live. The son wanted his mom to have the best care possible and he knew that it would be through the Green House® homes at Porter Hills. His mother had already been receiving care but he wanted her to have the ‘best of the best’. She moved in and initially didn’t talk and needed to be coaxed to eat. One day, I was leading a time of discussion and questions and asked about favorite colors. As we were going around the room hearing each elders’ answer, she raised her head and said, ‘my favorite color is yellow’. After that day she began to feed herself again and communicate. To me that signified living because with a lot of elderly people, eating is the last thing they have control of. Not eating can be their way of saying ‘I’m done’. For her to show that she was going to feed herself and was going to live again was a defining moment for me. I realized in that moment, that the concept of the Green House homes was not just a theory. This works, this is where people want to come to continue living no matter what stage of life they are at.”

3Darlene’s primary role in the home is to protect, sustain, and nurture the elders living there by providing assistance with activities of daily living and meeting other needs as required. “We are given the time and atmosphere to develop relationships with the elders and their families. It’s a wonderful place to work. This is a great community and Porter Hills is a great organization. Having The Green House homes and supporting them as a business, Porter Hills shows that we are here for elders, we are here for the geriatric population, and we are here to provide them with the best services and the best life that they can live.”

The rewards are not only felt by the elders in the community. “When you walk out of the door, despite the ups and downs, you know that you have made a difference. These elders could be living anywhere and not getting the care and relationships that they have here. But, they are HERE and we can give them that. It’s very rewarding.”