Green House Blog

The Evolution and Impact of The Green House model: Interview with Journalist and Author, Beth Baker

Beth Baker, Journalist

There are 214 Green House homes, however there are 15,600 traditional nursing homes in our country.  As we work to transform long term care, Beth Baker has been a critical voice in journalism, describing innovations in the field.  She has spent the last decade telling the story of culture change to a wide audience and earlier this month, Beth Baker highlighted The Green House model as The Nursing Home of the Future, in Politico Magazine.  

As a journalist and author, Beth Baker, writes about healthcare in outlets like The Washington Post and the AARP Bulletin, describing what is possible in long term care,”What [The Green House Project] does is to demonstrate that people can keep living and enjoying life until their last breath given the right environment and relationships.”  This journey led her to Tupelo, the first Green House homes, and the transformative story of Mildred Adams:

Beth became intrigued by the rich human stories found throughout the culture change world, and eventually decided to write a book, Old Age in A New Age.  Her work has expanded,  in a second book, With A Little Help From Our Friends, that focuses on “the importance of community and social connection as we grow older.”  Beth sees boundless opportunities to write about people who are,”looking at aging in our society and thinking about how to make it a richer and more respected time of life.”

When Politico approached Beth, they asked her to write a visionary piece about the nursing home of the future… when Beth pitched The Green House model, they were delighted to see the potential that exists today to create meaningful lives for those who live and work in long term care.

In her reporting for the Politico article, Beth visited Lebanon Valley Brethren Home in Palmyra, PA.  After a three hour drive on a cold, rainy day she shared how warm and welcoming it was to ring the doorbell and walk into the home, ” there was a fire in the hearth and one of the women was doing a jigsaw puzzle… it felt so familiar and was just a reminder of why [The Green House] is such a wonderful model”.  Through interviews with elders and Lebanon Valley Brethren Home CEO, Jeff Shireman, Beth was able to convey the comprehensive nature of the model, and how the interplay of the environment, organizational redesign and philosophy work together to create positive clinical, financial and satisfaction outcomes, “Having a strong case for the finances and business outcomes of The Green House Project has been really important, ” remarks Baker.

Beth Baker’s credible voice shines light on the potential for aging to be different, and it is so important that we continue, because as Beth shares, we have a lot of work to do, ” … It is going to take a culture change beyond long term care… [we need] a change in how we view aging, to get people to accept that it doesn’t have to be the way that it has always been.”

To read the full Politico Article>> 

 

 

‘Politico’ Hails The Nursing Home of the Future

politico1In Rebooting The Nursing Home, Beth Baker shares the deep human stories that describe The Green House model and shaped her visit to Lebanon Valley Brethren Home.  These Green House homes are a part of a “growing movement to transform nursing homes from medicalized institutions to places that feel much more like home.”

Resident choice and autonomy, a homey environment, and well-trained and invested staff are hallmarks of the Green House and similar models that are slowly and fundamentally changing long-term care for Americans who otherwise could be forced into traditional nursing homes.

Lebanon Valley Brethren Home has experienced the model’s benefits from a business politico2perspective, as well.  CEO, Jeff Shireman shared that after the capital investment, operating costs have been comparable or even lower than their traditional nursing home.  This cost savings is directly correlated with the comprehensive paradigm shift of the model and fully leveraging the role of the versatile worker (known as a shahbaz), “What you must do as a leader is to support [the shahbazim] and empower them and hold them accountable,” says the Green House Project’s Senior Director, Susan Ryan. “That is where you’ll see the efficiency.”

politico3This article paints a warm picture of a day in the life of a Green House home, and the elements that make it a viable model that is changing the landscape of long term care.

Read The Full Article>>

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.