Green House Blog

The Green House Pioneers of Alaska

seward
Seward Mountain Haven

As the only Green House homes in Alaska, we love sharing our story, and our passion for The Green House model’s Core Values of Real Home, Meaningful Life and Empowered Staff. When visitors come to Seward Mountain Haven they are struck not only by the beautiful view, but also by the feeling they have when they step inside our homes. The feeling is immediate and visceral. It’s family. Many people still expect to see the traditional institution and it gives me so much pleasure to be a part of changing that expectation.

I can’t tell you how many times visitors have joked with me, saying, “Sign me up! This is where I want to be!” They are joking but in reality they are saying, “Yes! This is what Long Term Care should be!”

Brittany and her colleagues from Seward Mt. Haven smile with Dr. Bill Thomas at the Green House Annual Meeting

It is easy to focus on the day to day challenges, and sometimes we have to remind each other, our team, to step back and notice the incredible work that we are doing. If we just let that sink in for a few minutes…it is SO powerful.

We are proud to be a pioneer in The Green House movement. The peer network that we are building nationally, enables us to share our successes and lessons learned with developing Green House homes and to gain insights from Green House organizations around the country. There is power in knowing that we are a part of something that is bigger than ourselves, and that we share this calling to better the lives elders every day.

I joined The Green House team at Providence Seward Mountain Haven January 2011 as a social worker. During my education, I never saw myself going into eldercare, and my road to The Green HouDSCN2761se homes was happenstance. I joined the team because I wanted to be a part of something innovative; I wanted to be a part of a group that was making a difference. I never would have imagined how much my decision to work in a Green House home would affect me. I am pushed to grow, learn and continually challenge my thinking… this opportunity is much more than just a job.

One of my most memorable experiences in The Green House homes was when I was pregnant with my son. Because we have such close relationships with the elders, they naturally wanted to stay informed of all the details, and to also share their pregnancy and birth experiences with me. As it got closer to my delivery date their excitement and anticipation grew, and when he finally came, we all celebrated the arrival of THEIR baby! This experience really drove home the fact that we really care about each other here. The elders are just as invested in us as we are in them and that is a feeling you only get in a Green House home. It’s very special.

A Son Expresses The Need for Green House homes in Every Community

A son’s personal experience shapes his support for bringing The Green House model to Maplewood Nursing home, in Cheshire County, NH.

As someone whose father greatly benefited from living in a Green House cottage, I feel compelled to lend my voice in support of the concept as the proposed alternative to the deteriorating Maplewood nursing facility which now serves many needy elders of Cheshire County.

Paul JenkinsMy father was a well-educated, highly respected writer and clergyman who, in his final years of life, had the misfortune to develop Lewy Body Dementia, a disease that resembles a devastating combination of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. It was one of the most difficult experiences of my life to watch this highly articulate man robbed of his joy, his speech, and, eventually, his mind.

When it became evident to our family that my mother could no longer care for my father in their home, we were blessed with the opportunity to be part of a Green House community in Holland, Michigan. The Green House concept is light years ahead of the type of care that has typically been given in places such as Maplewood Center. Maplewood has been a valued and effective facility for many years, but it simply cannot compare to a Green House setting. Green House residents live in private rooms with private baths. They are always treated with respect and dignity. They are referred to as “elders” rather than “patients.” Living, recreating and dining among a small community affords them with companionship that is so vital to their continued health. Family members are always welcomed at meals and other activities.

Before my father entered the Boersma Cottage, he was sinking deeper and deeper into depression, withdrawing from life, and was rapidly losing his desire to live. What struck me as miraculous is that, within a few weeks of his arrival, he started to regain his sense of humor and even had a playful quality about him that had been lacking in recent months. It is true that, because of his dementia, he was no longer fully the man I had known and loved. But the person that he became in his final months was well cared for and enjoyed a quality of life that, in my experience of such care – which is quite extensive – is unparalleled. My only regret is that he didn’t come to a Green House home earlier so that he might have enjoyed even more of its benefits. In the end, his death was a good one and for that I will always be grateful.

The Green House concept is, I believe, at this time the best way to provide quality of life for those in need of long-term care. It respects the dignity of the person and values the gifts that they still bring to the lives of others.

It’s time for Cheshire County to embrace this truly remarkable approach.

The Rev. Mark A. Jenkins

Rector, St. James Episcopal Church, Keene

Elders rule in Green House homes; setting a trend for traditional nursing homes

Via DemocratandChronicle.com

“The medical model is not good for the human condition.  We need quality of life to thrive.”

That’s how Rose Marie Fagan, co-founder of the National Pioneer Network describes how Elders should be at the center of their care and well-being.  Green House homes provide that quality of life for Elders to thrive. 

77-year-old Sal Speranza, who helped plan the St. John’s Green House homes, couldn’t agree more:

“This is getting away from the institution thing,” said the 77-year-old, this is the thing of the future.”

Let us know what you think!