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British Parliament Takes a Look at The Green House Project

From the ChangingAging Blogstream

The Green House Project isn’t just making waves in the U.S. The model’s innovative transformation of nursing home care was the the subject of a British Parliamentary hearing this week on the future of caregiving in the UK.

A British researcher who recently visited the United States testified before the Parliament Health Committee Tuesday, Jan. 10, that Britain should look at the Green House model as the future of nursing home care.

Dr. James Mumford, a senior researcher for the Centre for Social Justice, told Parliament that it was “absolutely vital that we dream a different future for residential care, particularly nursing care,” and “The Green House model presents a new way of doing that.” The Centre for Social Justice is a British think tank focused on finding effective solutions to poverty and Mumford leads research focused on low-income older adults in the UK.

“The (Green House) model was invented by Dr Bill Thomas but it is not just a brainchild; it actually exists. There are 127 Green Houses in the U.S. with 250 in development,” Mumford said.

In Britain, policymakers are currently too focused on delivering services that help elders remain in their homes longer, Mumford said. He warned that the growing population of adults with dementia and other chronic conditions means the need for nursing homes (which the British call “care homes”) is not going away and such settings need to be reformed.

The committee called on Mumford to report findings of his visit to the U.S., including a tour of Green House homes at The Eddy in Albany, N.Y. Mumford testified that the key innovations in the Green House model are achieved through reforms in design and staff ethos:

These Green Houses are self-contained buildings for nine to 12 people with about two staff members looking after each home. Their kitchen is not downstairs or siphoned off but is actually at the heart of the home. There are no clinical corridors and the rooms are off the central area.

The design is half of it. The second half of the innovation is around the staffing ethos. Basically, by cutting out middle management, the key thought is this: the staff in the care home context are bigger than the roles that they have.

By empowering the staff to actually take responsibility for the way that that particular Green House is run, and by also allowing them to take charge of cooking the meals and doing the laundry, you make huge staffing efficiencies, so that there is not actually any more hour per resident in terms of the staff labour cost, but it is for the same cost.

“They have seen extraordinary results from what they have achieved because of these two dramatic innovations at the heart of this new form of care,” Mumford testified. “As I said, this is not just a bright idea, it is being backed and rolled out across the US.”

Watch the full Parliament hearing here (Mumford’s Green House testimony begins 28 minutes into the hearing):

You can read the full transcript of Mumford’s testimony after the jump.

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