This week, representatives from the White House Conference on Aging (WHCOA) and THE GREEN HOUSE ® Project visited the Leonard Florence Center for Living (LFCL) in Chelsea, MA. The Center is the first urban Green House skilled nursing community in the country. Nora Super, Executive Director (WHCOA) and Rachel Maisler, Deputy Communications Director (WHCOA) traveled from Washington to see, first hand, how The Green House model supports a successful aging and good jobs. Senior Director of The Green House Project, Susan Frazier and Director of Outreach, Scott Brown, were in attendance; Betsy Mullen, COO of the Chelsea Jewish Foundation, the non-profit organization that operates LFCL, directed the visit.
The visit began by spending time with a group of elders who were celebrating National Senior Health & Fitness Day. Amidst songs and dancing, it was clear that these people are living life to the fullest. Winnie Murphy, who is 105, told the group she loved living at the LFCL because there “was always something to do and people to visit.” In fact, Winnie is engaged in meaningful activities every day; she goes to the salon to get her hair done about once a week, relaxes with a drink at the monthly Pub Hour, plays bingo as often as possible and attends a daily exercise class.
A key focus of the visit was to highlight the increased quality of life that elders and staff experience in The Green House model. Because of the high rise setting, the ground floor of the building has become a “main street” of sorts. The group spent time in the café, deli, spa and outdoor patios as well as the residences where elders receive long-term care and short term rehabilitation. It was gratifying to see Ms. Super’s reaction to each elder having a private bedroom and bathroom, and the sense of comfort and belonging that one feels in the open floor plan with accessible kitchens and dining areas in every home. Clearly, this revolutionary model of living made a tremendous impact upon the visitors, which will hopefully lead to tremendous impacts in policy to support the spread of this model across the country.
An added plus: the WHCOA team sent a camera crew to video-tape the tour. We are hopeful that this footage will be featured at the White House Conference on Aging, to be held in Washington, DC on July 13.