Green House Blog

The Visionary Leadership Behind the First PACE Green House homes

Green House homes are dynamic and able to impact innovation in many different settings.  The first Green House homes to be incorporated with a PACE community have opened as part of The Thome Rivertown Neighborhood in Detroit.  It is an honor to be able to open the doors of accessibility for low income elders through this partnership. 

PACE is the acronym of the Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly.  PACE programs are government-funded managed care health plans that also provide comprehensive health services for individuals age 55 and over who have health needs classified as “nursing home eligible” by their state’s Medicaid program.  The goal is to keep chronically ill elders independent for as long as possible –preventing avoidable  hospitalizations, emergency visits and stays in nursing homes.

Roger Myers is CEO of Presbyterian Villages of Michigan, and Mary Naber is President/CEO of PACE Southeast Michigan.  They are the leaders behind this innovation, and hold the belief in this partnership to evolve the healthcare system.  “This is the future.  Health is about more than medical care.  To meet the needs of elders, the focus must be holistic, accessible and home based,” Naber says.

The goal of PACE is to keep people as independent as possible and to avoid nursing home stays.  Despite that, nationally 7% of PACE participants still end up spending some time in long term care, according to Naber, “less because of a need for skilled care, and more because they are not safe to stay in their homes.”

“As we know, even the best traditional nursing home does not provide the greatest living experience, and now, for at least 21 people, The Rivertown Neighborhood is able to offer an alternative.  The Weinberg Green House homes meet their needs, support them to thrive and enable them to remain in the community,” says Naber.  “It’s very gratifying to be able to offer this option.  I wish I had 10 Green House homes for people!”

The Green House homes are licensed as Homes for the Aged, a distinction that provides flexibility and enables elders with a high level of need to live in the least restrictive environment possible.   As it happens, many of the people living in these homes have moved there from nursing homes.  The PACE program provides a “wrap-around” so that elders receive all the services they need, enabling The Green House home will be their home for life.

“The great thing about the co-location of the Weinberg Green House homes to the PACE center is that the elders receive all the same benefits as if they were living in their own homes, which they are- Green House homes.  Being right on the PACE campus will keep elders more mobile and socially engaged.  It will also help PACE clinicians stay in touch, and we know that frequent interactions can help prevent ER visits and other medical concerns.” explains Myers.

“Health is not just about medical care, especially when you’re dealing with chronic illness,” declares Naber.  By leveraging an interdisciplinary team rather than the typical doctor-driven model, the team at the Weinberg Green Houses are able to care for the WHOLE person: body, mind and spirit.

PACE Southeast Michigan is a 501c3 not-for profit government funded unique health plan and comprehensive care provider.   It is a jointly owned by Henry Ford Health System, one of the early PACE innovators, and Presbyterian Villages of Michigan.

The Thome Rivertown Neighborhood includes Independent Living, Assisted Living, the PACE Center and now The Green House homes.  Not everyone who lives on the campus is a part of PACE, but it is built as a continuum to enable low income and highly frail people to stay in their community as their health status changes.

Integrating residential living with PACE is proving to be an effective development that will hopefully spread throughout the country.  PVM led the development effort for this supportive neighborhood during the recession, and the idea was so compelling that they were able to achieve their goals.  A $2 million grant from the Baltimore-based Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation provided much of the support to make their vision to add Green House homes to the community a reality.

 

 

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.”

Joint Provider Surveyor Training: Building Vital Relationships

Susan-Frazier_8924A mutual goal of providers and regulators is for elders to experience high-quality lives, enjoying choice, freedom and dignity. The Green House Project understands this, and supports dialogue and education to build strong relationships among all stakeholders. The Joint Provider Surveyor Training, recently held in Grand Rapids, Michigan, provided an opportunity to spread our message about the importance of partnership, and its necessity to achieve positive outcomes for the future of aging.

As Senior Director of The Green House Project, I joined Renee Cunningham, Director of Nursing for Kalkaska Memorial Health Center, to present the latest research on The Green House model. Renee shared her organization’s journey to adopt The Green House trademark, and the value that they believe it will bring to help them achieve their goal of opening two Green House homes in 2015.

The Green House Project partners with state regulators to understand the specific regulations of each state, and educates them about The Green House model. Since the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) of 1987 was enacted, mandating that nursing homes “…help each resident attain or maintain the highest practicable well-being…” (CMS 1987), person-centered thinking has been inscribed in long-term care policy. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) continue to advance this agenda through regulations and interpretive guidelines that mandate person-centered approaches. It is essential to bring regulators and providers together for vital collaboration. Building those relationships at the policy and advocacy level are essential to achieving meaningful life at the individual level.

Stories of Love and Family from Boersma Cottage

While attending a Green House Conference, one of the main things that was discussed was “The Story”. The Story as they say has a beginning, middle, and an end, it can be a sad story, a happy story one with lots of twists and turns or it can be a very simple story. My story, or rather, our story, is all of the above and more.

At Boersma Cottage, The Green House home at Resthaven Care Community in Holland, MI, there is an Elder who lives with Muscular Dystrophy. Through his illness, he is confined to a scooter and he finds it hard to lift his head. It is a struggle every day for him to perform everyday tasks, yet it rarely slows him down. He has a son that struggles in his day to day life as well and is in need of a liver transplant. On a cold night in November, our Elder received a phone call that struck terror into His heart, as it would any parent. The call was to say that the Elder’s son was enroute to the hospital, and they didn’t know if he would pull through. Our Elder was upset, to say the least. The Nurse and the Shahbaz on duty instantly knew something terrible had happened and stepped up the plate to help. While trying to find out answers, we focused on the needs of the Elder, since he was worried sick, not just for his son, but also, his wife.

So we did what needed to be done even if it meant we were going to have to load him and his scooter up in the back of our Nurse’s pickup truck to get him to the hospital. We called to our legacy home and found our ever-willing Floor Man and asked him for a huge favor. We asked if he could please drive our Elder to the hospital so that he could be with His son and Wife? We had no sooner asked than he called his supervisor who said he could use the van to drive our Elder to the hospital. In less than 15 min our Elder was loaded up and on his way to the hospital. His wife was surprised as all get out when her husband came rolling into the hospital. She needed the support and our Elder got to be what he is, “the Man of the House”. Our Elder got to see his son whom he hadn’t been able to see in 4 months due to his son’s illness. He was able to reassure His wife and son and be with them in a great time of need. When our Elder arrived back home he was relieved and very happy. It was one of the very few times that we got to see our Elder smile.

I am proud to say that I am part of an amazing team that will do whatever it takes to be there for our Elders. Everyone was so willing to pitch in, everything worked smoothly, as if every move was pre-planned. Our Elder thanked us repeatedly for helping him, and each one of us told him the same thing, “We are a family and that’s what families do. God blessed us to be together and together we all are family. “

Our story is ongoing and I am sure there will be many more twists and turns, but to end this tale on a wonderful note , our Elder’s son did get his liver and is doing well. Thank you God.

The Green House Annual Meeting and Celebration

The Green House Project is excited to host The Fifth Annual Green House Meeting and Celebration, an exclusive opportunity for organizations who have adopted The Green House Project.  This year’s meeting will be held on September 5-7 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Building on an important value of The Green House concept, this year’s theme, “Meaningful Life, Meaningful Engagement”, will highlight the impact organizations are having on the lives of the people who are living and working in their Green House homes.  

The Green House Project is eager to use this platform to acknowledge the four Green House Projects that are open and thriving in the great state of Michigan.  From Pinecrest in the Upper Peninsula to Porter Hills, in Grand Rapids, our host city; from the Villages of Redford in Detroit’s outskirts to Resthaven on the the eastern shores of Lake Michigan, we honor all of the homes where elders and persons living with disabilities can live lives of meaning and engagement in homes where they are well known.  

This meeting and celebration as always been a time to honor the commitments that Green House organizations have made to the model and the initiative,  and the hard work to make this vision a reality.  We hope this experience provides our network with the opportunities for learning, growth, replenishment and fun!

The opportunity to visit Porter Hills will give adopters a chance to how The Green House model is lived on another campus, and there will be plenty of time for networking and relationship building amongst peers throughout the conference.  This venue will be bustling with best practices, and lessons learned from all phases of Green House development and sustainability.  Education and growth are key features of The Green House model, and there will by thoughtful sessions by Dr. Bill Thomas, founder of The Green House model and international change agent, dementia care expert Teepa Snow OT/R, and many others.   

This meeting brings together Shahbazim, Guides, CEOs, Clinical Support Team members and Elders to share their knowledge and everyday experiences. 

If you can’t attend this year’s meeting, or if you are not a Green House adopter, but are interested in the agenda, don’t worry– there will be interactive opportunities throughout the meeting!  We will be livestreaming from our website: Dr. Thomas’ keynote (9/6/2012, 9:00a), Teepa Snow’s keynote (9/7/2012, 8:30a).  We will also be updating our facebook page throughout the conference and will be using hastag: #GHP12, to tweet exciting news and photos. 

Thank you for your support and energy to further The Green House Project, and our quest to create “Meaningful Engagement and Meaningful Lives