Green House Blog

A Global Community of Thought Leaders at The Green House Annual Meeting

“Waves of Change, Oceans of Opportunity” became more than a theme for the 2017 Green House Annual Meeting, it became a rallying cry. The world is at a pivotal point, and the meeting tapped into the collective potential of an innovative group to help shape the future. Over 250 people from around the globe converged in sunny Florida to connect, learn and grow. Hosted by the progressive and gracious John Knox Village, attendees were able to experience the potential of The Green House model, firsthand. Coming on the heels of the devastating Hurricane Irma, The Green House community came together to raise over $1200 for disaster relief, including many in-kind donations.  Engaged and generous sponsors add to the rich tapestry of learning, and enhance the conference experience.  Through challenging speakers, interactive opportunities, and recognition of the global voice, the ripples of the time together will continue to be felt for a long time.

Sharpen your skills in the kitchen!  This was the challenge put out to direct care staff who were invited to participate in a “Chop Chef” style competition in the onsite training kitchen at John Knox Village. Under the guidance of Chef Mark of John Knox Village and Chef Ian from Christian Cares in Kentucky, direct care staff gained valuable skills in the kitchen, build strong relationships with peers and deepened their understanding of being an empowered staff member.

Over 40 Executives including representatives from 8 countries participated in a stimulating and challenging session about Social Entrepreneurship led by Green House Board President, Scott Townsley. The commitment and vision of these leaders to share their voice, demonstrates the power of a community of thought leaders to change a paradigm.

The conference opened with keynote speaker, James Wright, challenging the group to explore the meaning and value of diversity in the workplace. Through interactive exercises to uncover unconscious bias and understand the difference between equity and equality, Mr. Wright’s message became a thread for meaningful discussion throughout the conference, and perhaps a new lens to view the world.

Monique, shahbaz at Weinberg Green House homes in Detroit, MI

The Green House Annual Meeting welcomes every role within The Green House model, believing that sharing an education space leads to some incredible conversations and epiphanies. For example, in the closing plenary session, when Monique, a direct care staff member from Detroit, stood up and said, “this is not a job, this is a career”, there was electricity throughout the room, and a heightened understanding that workforce development is essential to ensure sustainable success of Green House homes. The education sessions range from important macro topics like “What You Need to Know About the New CMS Regulations to Lead the Way” to nuts and bolts topics like how to engage in constructive conflict. Facilitated networking through an exercise called “Words Make Worlds”, led to

Words to Leave Behind was followed by a round of Words Make Worlds

spirited conversation, and many creative expressions of words to take forward, and those to leave behind. There is value provided at a strategic level and an operational level, and the interaction that occurs is priceless.

Yaron from Israel, and Janet from Alaska reunited after meeting 8 years ago at Seward Mountain Haven

Last year, one of the far reaching visions was that Green House would “Go Global”. At the time, it seemed like a dream, and then international visionaries began to reach out about bringing Green House to their community. This year, representatives from Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Israel, Indonesia, Panama and Singapore participated in The Green House conference, and an International Think Tank where ideas and possibility spread through the room like wild fire. One participant remarked that what may have started as a ‘project’ is now far more than that… it is The Green House Movement! Everyone left with a ‘fire in their belly’ to make meaningful change. Conversations and plans have continued full force, and there are now expansive opportunities for Green House to impact the needs of aging individuals on a global scale.

The Green House Annual Meeting is always an energizing time for those who are exploring, implementing and sustaining the model to connect with their peers and deepen their understanding. This year brought new elements that challenged the group to deepen their role as a community of thought leaders and lead society as an inclusive and innovative force that celebrates the intrinsic worth of EVERY individual.   The Green House movement has the energy and vision to disrupt the status quo and propel a dynamic system to new heights amidst a rapidly changing world.

Reflections on Culture Change from the United Kingdom

Recently, change agent and founder of Evermore, Sara McKee, spent time with Green House team members and Dr. Bill Thomas.  She visited a Green House home, and dreamed about how the inspiration of The Green House model could meet the needs of elders and direct care staff in the United Kingdom.  Read her reflections below.  

In the relentless pursuit of keeping institutional behaviour at bay

Is it any wonder that the turnover of care staff is upwards of 30% in most organisations in the sector; when the opportunity to do what they really want – care for individuals – is often denied them?

Time limits, task-based activity, cost pressures – all take away the pleasure to be derived from work with such a purpose. Add to that the insecurity of having low pay with zero hours contracts, and any job role starts to look more appealing than care. This is probably why care worker posts are generally the last on the list offered in a Jobcentre.

It really doesn’t have to be this way.

With the right leadership we can achieve amazing things. We have to get the basics right (pay/conditions) and then we have to enable people to flourish. As Daniel Pink explains, people are motivated by Autonomy, Mastery & Power.

That’s what gets us up in the morning, and I’m hopeless at early mornings. Seeing the art of the possible in front of me on a recent trip to The Green House Project in the US, and I’m bouncing out of bed. Hector, my trusty hound, is finding that change in arrangements rather alarming!

My point is simply this: we will fail if we carry on trying to make the current institutions work by incremental change. As Einstein said, insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Time for a game change.

We’re taking the lessons from the Green House Project where staff have autonomy, become masters of their craft and have real power to advocate on behalf of their elderly residents. We will make sure that those in our care get to make the decisions, keep control and continue to contribute. By helping each other, we know they’ll stay active, engaged, be happy and well.

We don’t need task-based hierarchy to make things work. Let’s face it, the current system is expensive, unproductive and adds nothing to the quality of service.

We need enthusiasm, capability and energy. We need to recruit from across the age spectrum and train staff to create warm, domestic and convivial environments where really meaningful conversations take place. That way “person-centred” care and other useless jargon can be thrown away as real relationships are fostered. We do this by focusing on smaller numbers of people and enabling staff to be close to their elderly compatriots.

Less time focused on the P&L and more time on creating the place to live a happy life. My experience across various industries has shown me that if you do the right thing well, the money follows because people want to be a part of what you’re creating.
It’s not a pipe dream or an aspiration. It’s what we need to do and we intend to show how it’s done.

Big thanks to my community of colleagues in Washington, DC who continue to motivate and support me to be the game changer. And it is with them that I join in our relentless pursuit of keeping institutional behaviour at bay.