It is hard to believe that it has only been 10 years since the first Green House homes opened in Tupelo, MS. It all began when Green House founder, Dr. Bill Thomas, had a radical idea that people should age in real homes, rather than institutions. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation agreed, and this model has served as a catalyst for significant social change. To date, 1579 elders, veterans and people with disabilities live as full and meaningful lives in Green House homes, and gaining momentum to bring this model to a community near you.
Be sure to watch the below video to see the impact that this model made on long term care, and what the future holds.
The article profiles Steve’s upbringing, and the winding path that brought him to the helm of Methodist Senior Services in Tupelo, MS. It has been 10 years since the first Green House homes opened, and it is astounding to look back at all the factors that aligned to make this dream a reality. McAlilly says the “great adventure” of the Green House taught him how to “move forward without knowing all the answers.”
Chief Operating Officer, Susan Frazier, decribes the leadership gifts that have contributed to the success of Steve’s organization and The Green House model, “He demonstrated you can work through the regulatory challenges, the capital challenges,” Frazier says. She calls him a “profound leader” who is warm and gracious, and known by all the direct care staff.
It has been 10 years since Mississippi Methodist Senior Services in Tupelo, MS opened the first Green House project in the country. Throughout May, The Green House Project will celebrate this pioneering organization, and the revolution that they sparked. On Sunday, May 5, there was a block party to celebrate this milestone, with Green House team members and Dr. Bill Thomas in attendance. Check out the photos here and Follow us on twitter at #Tupelo10.
Steve McAlilly, the visionary leader who believed in The Green House model and brought it to his organization tells a story about its impact:
There was a retired methodist preacher who had Alzheimer’s. He lived in our Alzheimer’s unit in the old ward. He had an eight-year-old grandson who refused to come see him in that environment. His parents couldn’t get him to go see his grandaddy. His disease was so advanced he wasn’t awake but 4 hours a day. But he was one of the first people in the world to move into green house. People would ask what is he going to get out of it? He’s barely awake, has to be fed. But we believed that bringing him to the hearth, to the supper table, something would get through and it would make a difference.
So every day the Shahbazim would get him dressed and bring him to the table. Before too long he was awake again, and his grandson would come back to see him. He came to see his grandaddy so much he knew the name of every elder and every Shahbaz in the house. If that’s the only thing we did we can say it’s worth it. Whatever sweat and tears we had it was worth it.
The 10 year celebration of The Traceway Green House homes in Tupelo, MS, is this Sunday (Follow us #Tupelo10), and The Daily Journal of Northeast Mississippi published an article to tell their robust story. The Tupelo story has had a ripple effect to touch thousands of people over the last decade, “Conceived as a way to deliver skilled nursing care on a human scale that empowered elders and their caregivers, Traceway was the first place in the nation to take the model to reality.”
Traceway is the project that sparked a revolution of a new way to deliver long term care. Currently 32 states have Green House homes open or in development, and that number continues to grow. Nearly everyone, from providers to consumers to policy makers know about The Green House model, and the impact that it can have for elders in their community, “In the Green House environment, there are more relationships,” said Jerry South, executive director for Traceway Retirement Community. “You don’t see those in a traditional nursing home environment.”
People have been impacted by the Tupelo story around the world, and in states as far away as Alaska. Patty Foldager is the guide for the Seward Mountain Haven Green House homes. When she was learning about The Green House model, she remembers being blown away at the calm way a Shahbaz fixed an egg for a late-riser and then shared an orange with another elder. “This looks nothing like a long-term care center,” she remembers thinking during her visit.
Indeed, this is more than an incremental change, “It’s not just a fresh coat of paint,” said Susan Frazier, the national Green House Project, chief operating officer. “We’re going to change the way folks will age in long-term care in America.”
To read the full article, click here. Follow us on Twitter this Sunday, #Tupelo10 for live updates of the 10th anniversary block party in Tupelo, MS