Green House Blog

A Special Milestone Celebrated for the First Skilled Nursing Green House Homes in Florida

john knox tree threeAs many of you know celebrations and rituals hold a special place in the philosophy of the Green House model.  It’s important to take time to honor special goals that have been achieved.  John Knox Village did just that in late April when the community celebrated the tree topping ceremony.  It’s a tradition in the construction industry when a building’s structure has reached its maximum height.

Elders and Community leaders were all on hand when the Christmas Palm was placed atop their seven story building, called The Woodlands, which will include 12 Green House homes.john knox tree four_topping of tree

john knox tree top twoGuest speakers included City of Pompano Beach Mayor, Lamar Fisher who said “John Knox Village has become the leader in healthcare in Pompano Beach.  It is the largest healthcare provider and employer in the city.  The Woodlands will continue this leadership.  It will be the pinnacle of our cultural change.”  Mr. Fisher made those comments during an earlier groundbreaking event for the project.

The construction of the building is being led by The Weitz Company which has offices in South Florida.

IMG_0632The Woodlands is a $34-plus million project and is expected to open the middle of next year.  Each of the top six floors will have two Green House homes with a total of 144 private bedrooms and bathrooms for the Elders.

We congratulate all of those involved with the project and look forward to the grand opening of this very special development!

State Regulators Unanimously Approve Plans to Build the First Green House Homes in Missouri

As many of you know, obtaining a Certificate of Need is no easy task these days and that is why we are so pleased with the news from Missouri this week!

The Healthcare Facilities Review Committee of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services unanimously granted an 80-bed Certificate of Need to Focused Senior Communities to build and operate the first Green House homes in that state.

There will be 8 homes built on the campus in Ozark.  Each 7,000 square foot home will include a central dining room, hearth room and open kitchen surrounded by just 10 private bedrooms, each with a full private bathroom.  A screened porch will lead out to a large patio, with a walkway and gardens between homes.

Al Beamer, CEO, said that his family had researched all the options and found the Green House model to be far and away the best choice.

He said “even with all the studies and pictures and testimonials and national press support, it is not until you walk in the door that you truly ‘get’ the ‘Green House Magic.’

A number of local officials strongly supported the project including State Senator Jay Wasson who referenced the Green House model:

“These homes in many other states are well known for providing residents the dignity, care and compassion they deserve.”



Beamer said they plan to break ground in the spring and be open by late fall, 2015.  Congratulations to all and we warmly welcome everyone to the Green House family!

Click here to read about the project as reported in local media.

7th Eden Alternative International Conference: Green House Staffers Present on a Wide Variety of Culture Change Issues

The Eden Alternative is celebrating 20 years in 2014!  So, the conference last week was time for a celebration and a chance for thought leaders and partners from across the country to share their knowledge and experience with conference participants.  Below are highlights from just a few of the sessions led by Green House team members.

Bringing Eden Alternative Principles to Hospice: Treading New Ground

Person-centered care can be a powerful differentiator in competitive hospice markets.  The Eden Alternative Philosophy can help hospices deal with financial realities like the increased focus on efficiency dictated by Medicare reimbursement cuts, as well as the employee stress and dissatisfaction caused by these changes.   It’s also an important way for hospice organizations to demonstrate to staff that they remain focused on their clients and mission, despite the economic challenges.

That was the message from the session entitled: “Bringing Eden Alternative Principles to Hospice: Treading New Ground” presented by Project Guide, Claire Lucas, of The Green House Project.  While the basic concepts remain consistent across the care continuum, there are unique challenges incorporating person-centered care in the surprisingly medically focused hospice environment.  One challenge is that Elders are located remotely.  Another is the short duration of typical hospice care, with most ranging from just a few days to two weeks.

The Eden Alternative philosophy encourages hospice providers to enrich their visits, and add more value.  Focusing on simple pleasures, activities and hobbies, and reminiscing are a few ways to keep the focus on the person.  Other ways to enhance home hospice visits include aromatherapy, comfort touch and music.

Well-being and the Empowered Workforce: Respect, Relationships, and Growth

The key to empowered staff is coaching leadership according to Project Guide, Marla DeVries and Director, Susan Frazier of the Green House Project staff.
Empowered Staff is the “human architecture” of the Green House home explained Frazier.

In the Green House model, the CNA role is replaced by a versatile worker, called a Shahbaz .  They are part of a self-managed work team – a team that is respected for its proximity and deep knowing of Elders.  A central component of an empowered workforce is coaching leadership, creating empowerment conditions and always “educating, educating, educating.”  “While traditionally a leader is focused on managing people,” said DeVries, “coaching leaders must embrace people.”

With an empowered workforce, the focus is no longer about care-giving, but about care partnership – how staff works together.  Clinical support team staff members do not come in to deliver a solution, but to support staff and to work as a coaching partner.  While working as a mentor and an educator, a coaching leader must balance support and accountability with team members.

A Community-based Green House Approach: Development Goals, Opportunities and Outcomes

There are unique benefits available to providers and developers teaming up to provide healthcare via decentralized community-based approach.

Using the nation’s first community-based Green House project as a case study, Susan Frazier and SWBR Architect, Rob Simonetti, expressed that incorporating senior living options like Green House homes into residential developments is a win-win.  Elders benefit because they’re not segregated from the community, living in a real home, with a normalized environment and routine, and being part of a real community.

Incorporating Green House homes into developments also benefits the developer.   It enhances community support and helps them achieve construction efficiencies.  It’s also a significant market differentiator – the Green House model is very attractive and seen as a positive addition to a development.  “Green House homes make it easier for developers to sell market rate housing,” according to Simonetti.  Part of the attraction is buyers who are anticipating a future need, either for themselves or a loved one.


First Green House Homes in Minnesota Set to Open in June

It’s been a long winter, but that hasn’t stopped construction crews in Mankato, Minnesota!  The assisted living Green House homes, called Water’s Edge, are slated to be open within three months.

They are being developed and operated by Grace Senior Services.  The owners, Brad and Heather Bass, have been committed to serving Elders for many years.  In fact, they started their journey by opening an adult day service in their home 17 years ago.  They currently have several senior housing cooperatives, two assisted living communities, and an adult foster care program.

Brad and Heather are most excited about bringing The Green House model to Minnesota.  The new Director of Operations for Water’s Edge, Brooke Olson will be welcoming 36 Elders to the homes when they open.  Of course, we’re all hopeful that by June the snow will have melted and the flowers will be blooming!

A Pre-Conference Intensive for Shahbazim at The 6th Annual Green House Meeting and Celebration: A Day to Explore the Coordinator Roles and Relational Coordination in Green House Homes

On the day a Green House home opens the Shahbazim become the managers of the home as well as partners to the Elders.  It requires a deep understanding of the systems that support the home. The core functions include the Food, Scheduling, Care, Team, and Housekeeping systems and the Coordinator Roles each Shahbaz fills on a rotating basis.  These functions are the guts of the home and to be successfully carried out require strong relationships and excellent communication.  If the systems work, the days go smoothly. Without good systems, respectful relationships and high communication it can be a rocky road!

This preconference day will explore the Coordinator Roles and the core systems around Food, Scheduling and Care.  It will ask participants to identify what makes for good relational coordination; meaning shared vision, shared knowledge and mutual respect.  The best thinking and lessons learned will be the basis for conversations on how to sharpen and improve the core systems and relationships of the homes.  

If you are a Shahbaz at an open or soon to be open Green House home, plan on attending THE GREEN HOUSE®  Annual Meeting and Celebration in Boston on November 18th.   Leave with new ideas, new insights and many new friends.  Register at the Peer Network website.  For more information about the program contact

Please note:  The Green House Annual Meeting & Celebration is an event exclusively available to Green House adopters for sharing, learning, and celebrating the growth of The Green House model.  The Annual Meeting honors organizations for their commitment to create real home, empowered staff, and meaningful lives for elders. Sessions provide peers with an opportunity to reflect on lessons learned, revisit skills for coaching leaders, and build relationships to support sustainable change

Sunshine State to Welcome the First Skilled Nursing Green House Homes at John Knox Village

These are definitely exciting times at John Knox Village in Pompano Beach, Florida!  Last week their Board of Directors approved the development of THE GREEN HOUSE® residences at the Village and renovations to their current Health Center. 

“This project ensures our ability to fulfill our health care contract with our residents at the level and quality of care they expect from us,” said Board Chairman William Knibloe, II. “Further, it provides for our employees the opportunity to be part of the most important development and progressive care giving to seniors existing today.” 

The $34-plus million project will be located on the northwest corner of The Village’s 65-acre campus.  There will be seven floors, with the main floor featuring a community area for all Elders.  The other six floors will each have two Green House homes.  Each home will have 12 private bedrooms and bathrooms, plus a living area and kitchen.

Groundbreaking is slated for July, with the first Elders moving in October 2015.

Click here to read more about this development!

Despite the Weather…Ground is Broken for the First Skilled Nursing Green House homes in Minnesota

We all know how crazy the weather has been this past winter…but who would have thought snowflakes would fall on a May 1st groundbreaking ceremony? Well, that’s exactly what greeted the guests for the Episcopal Homes of Minnesota ceremony to launch the construction of six Green House homes on their campus.

The $45 million project will provide a variety of living options for Elders including the skilled nursing services in the Green House homes which will be called “Episcopal Church Home – The Gardens”.  Episcopal Homes has been providing house and care for Elder for more than 100 years in St. Paul, Minnesota. The homes are slated to be open in late 2014.

We all know how important nature is to all of us, especially our Elders in Green House homes…so our friends at Episcopal Homes plan to do something special with the ground flung into that wheelbarrow. It will be saved and used in the future greenspace and two-story indoor garden. Such a wonderful and thoughtful idea!

Read more  about the project. Then tell us what you think!

The 6th Eden Alternative International Conference

One of many celebrations!








The conference lobby was buzzing with excitement as individuals gathered for the 6th Eden Alternative International Conference.  Even as a newcomer to this event, it was evident that everyone was deeply connected both personally and professionally.  It felt like a large family reunion, and in no time, I was swept up in all the enthusiasm and camaraderie.

I have been pondering how to capture my experience but have found it very difficult to neatly package three powerful and enlightening days into one blog.  I anticipated I would meet extraordinary people, but I never imagined every person I met to leave such a lasting impression.  For instance, I met Connie Goldman, a former staff member of National Public Radio and life-long advocate of changing society’s perception on aging.  “We all want to live a long life,” she stated during the conference. “However, no one wants to age.  What people don’t understand is that being older is the best time of your life or at least it can be.”  I realized I was surrounded by people tirelessly working to make this a reality.

The conference was packed with educational sessions, panels, an exhibitor booth, and plenty of convivium and celebration.  Information ranged from international growth to intergenerational opportunities.  The conference also illuminated how the Eden philosophy and principles thrive in The Green House model.  It was a reminder that relationships are the basis of the work we do and will continue to guide our work in the future.

Community integrated Green House homes provide a New York neighborhood with something special…licensed nursing home care

It takes a variety of homes to make up a neighborhood—so why not build Green House homes in existing communities?  There are those who would question whether it’s possible…but in upstate New York it’s proving to be a wonderful addition to the neighborhood and a shining example of skilled nursing home care.

While many of us would clearly prefer home and community-based care, it’s estimated that 1.2 million Americans currently live in institutional facilities.  This rings especially true for low-income elders and others who lack access to affordable nursing services in their area.

Green House homes offer elders a place where autonomy and choice are honored, direct skilled nursing care is a priority, and they have more satisfying and meaningful lives, work and relationships.  When the home is located within a neighborhood—it also meets that desire for community-based services.

St. John’s Home in Rochester, New York opened the first two community-integrated Green House homes two months ago and will part of an evaluation of the concept over the next three years.

CLICK HERE to read the full story.

Tell us what you think below!

Green House Model and the Eden Alternative: Setting the stage for people to grow

By Judith Meyers-Thomas

When I gave birth to my first child I had no idea that it would be a lesson in empowerment. Haleigh Jane, who is just about to turn 18, was born with Otahara Syndrome. In the simplest terms, her brain will never develop past that of an infant. We were told she would never live to six months. Two and a half years later, my second daughter was born with the same condition. The doctors who had initially told us it was not a genetic condition, apologetically informed us they were wrong.

For years I accepted the opinions of the almost constant parade of doctors, therapists and counselors as they attempted to tell me what was best for my daughters. It is difficult for me to admit that I went along with many of those suggestions because I did not trust that I might actually understand more about my precious girls than they did. After all, they were the “professionals”. When I finally found the courage to stand up and say “no”, the sense of empowerment that I experienced was life altering.

Websters dictionary would have you believe that empowerment is something that is bestowed upon us. I think they are wrong. Empowerment comes from within. When you accept who you are at this moment in your life; when you can be true to yourself, you will find that the power you are looking for is right there inside of you. Look, for example, at Mother Theresa. She lived and worked within the confines of a male dominated bureaucracy that is certainly not known for empowering women and yet she followed her heart and found strength and comfort in helping those most in need. She made a difference.

In the Eden Alternative and Green House models we set the stage for people to grow. We encourage the many women (and men) who live and work there to be engaged; to be empowered. Principle 8 states:

“An Elder-centered community honors it’s Elders by de-emphasizing top-down bureaucratic authority, seeking instead to place the maximum possible decision-making authority into the hands of the Elders or the hands closest to them.”

The message is clear. The table is set. Accept where you are in life. Find joy in the people who surround you and you will find the strength to do what needs to be done. The power you are looking for is right there inside you!

“Anything you want to ask a teacher, ask yourself and wait for the answer in silence.” – Byron Katie –

THRIVE Research – What does this mean for Green House Homes?

THRIVE Research – What does this mean for Green House Homes?


You’ve probably heard about the THRIVE  research studies aimed at learning more about how the Green House model works and how it differs from other models of care.   You might be curious what this means for the Green House projects over the next few years.


Many of the Green House projects will be getting calls over the next year to discuss participation. Research team members from Pioneer Network, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of North Carolina, and Health Management Strategies will be contacting several projects to ask them to participate in one or more parts of the study.


Here are some terms you might hear or see:


Questionnaires: These are paper or electronic surveys staff complete on a topic.


Site Visit: Several Green House projects will be asked to host a visit by a small team of friendly researchers (usually 2-4 people).  The purpose of the visit is to collect information on what life is like in the Green House homes for shabhazim and elders and how care is provided.


Interviews: Interviews are one way researchers get to know details about how things work in the Green House homes. Interviewees will be asked questions that allow them to tell stories and share their experiences.


What is a site visit like? 

Enjoyable !  A site visit from the research team is not like a visit from state regulators, in that the intent is to learn and not to evaluate.  It’s a time for researchers to learn about what life and care is like in a Green House, and for Green House staff, shabhazim, and elders to have the opportunity to contribute to what is being learned.  


Lori Kinney, Green House Guide at Lebanon Valley Brethren Home, has experienced a few site visits from research teams. “The research team’s communication was great, whether it was through emails or phone conversations. The visits went well… Since we, staff and elders, were prepared for the visits from the research team, things moved along swiftly and elders always appreciate visits from ‘new’ people that enjoy listening and talking with them.”


The researchers understand that the Green Houses are the elders’ homes and intend to minimize disruption as much as possible. The researchers are flexible and know things can “pop up” that make it difficult for staff to attend to the research needs during the visit. Elder’s needs are always the top priority.


The research team looks forward to working with the Green House homes! Questions about THRIVE can be directed to Lauren Cohen ( or 919-843-8874).


 The THRIVE research studies are funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.