Green House Blog

The Wall Street Journal Investigates: How Does Dementia Impact Health-Care Spending?

Researchers from the Rand Corporation recently published a study that found medical costs of treating dementia totaled $109 billion in 2010. This is more than was spent on heart disease or cancer! What can be done now to slow increases in expenses and improve care? The Wall Street Journal Real Time Economics Blog highlights the financial impact of The Green House model:          

RWJ and a nonprofit, NCB Capital Impact, have also funded the Green House Project. Each Green House accommodates 10 to 12 seniors with medical help provided by certified nursing assistants.

David Farrell, The Green House Project director, says the small homes allow for less administrative costs and allows residents to remain ambulatory, even with a walker, rather than depending on wheelchairs.

Plus, the nursing staff develop a closer relationship with a small number of [Elders]. “The [CNAs] can pick up on subtle changes in the elderly,” which leads to preemptive care rather than medical emergencies, Mr. Farrell says. 

In a Green House home more money is spent on care and less on administration.  The Elder to staff ratio makes for better care and less hospitalization of Elders.  To learn more, read about The Green House Project’s cost saving summary.  Read the full Wall Street Journal article here or learn more about The Green House model.

Why I Love My Job…

Shahbaz Sarah Hoffman from The Green House homes at Lebanon Valley Brethren Home shares why she truly loves her position: 

Every Thursday in the Legacy building of our facility, they have bible study. As the elders are filing into the area, we have a pianist playing prelude, often one of our independent living volunteers. For various reasons our regular pianists could not make it yesterday, so activities’ staff asked one of our green house elders if she’d be interested. She agreed, but as it came time to head down, she expressed some reservation about not knowing what to play. I reassured her to just play from her heart.  I assisted her to the piano, adjusting the bench to her liking. For nearly half an hour, without any sheet music she began playing. And then started singing. I watched from the sidelines as her entire face lit up…she was beaming, proudly playing hymns she’d grown up with. The room began singing along with her…it was truly a beautiful moment. A couple of hymns were requested from the audience that she didn’t remember right away. I sang the first line and she picked it up and ran with it!
Sure, there may have been a few missed notes along the way and she may have played a couple hymns twice or thrown in a non hymn here and there…but in that moment, at that piano, she was THRIVING.

And my heart was smiling.

Please share your comments!

Bringing Game-Changing Ideas to Scale

The Green House Project has been called the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (RWJF) signature example of bringing game-changing ideas to scale. It started with an idea 12 years ago for a housing and skilled-nursing care environment that could provide a better, warmer, and more dignified alternative to traditional nursing home facilities for frail elders. Today, there are 137 Green House homes in 22 states across the U.S., with many more in development.

In this case study for The Green House Project, Jane Isaacs Lowe, Vulnerable Populations team director at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), shares the strategy around bringing an innovation to scale.  She believes that “when it comes to nurturing social innovation and bringing effective solutions to where they are needed most, this is the dawn of a new era.”

To read the full article, click here

 

Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center Celebrates The Opening of Their First Green House Home

It was a clear sky with not one cloud to cause a shadow on what was about to commence:  the ribbon cutting on the first of 12 Green House homes to care for the veterans who so selflessly gave their lives to fight for the American way of life Freedom.

 Around 200 people attended the gathering in the perfect 70 degree weather.  There were 10 individuals who were all dressed the same and when they were introduced no one was surprised as they were already caring for the veterans who would live in the homes.  These 10 people were the Guardians and were wearing light blue polo shirts with khaki pants. The 10 veterans were introduced to the crowd and it was an honor to hear that they were Vietnam and Korean War Vets who would be the first to move in and live there.  Mr. Tyler spoke to the reason why they were chosen by telling a story about the Vietnam War and how when the war changed due to changes in the Vietnamese’s tactics our men were physically left in dangerous situations and also publically back in the states our men were forgotten as it was not a popular war.  Mr. Tyler dedicated the first of these homes to them because they will never forget them.

Dr. Powers, Associate Chief Staff Geriatric and Extended Care spoke to the need to care for those veterans who have dementia and how these homes are the best place to serve individuals with dementia because of the home environment.  He mentioned that some colleagues had asked him if the home would be wasted on those individuals because of their memory loss.  He mentioned a story of how the brain, mind and soul work in every human being.  The brain is the hardware, the mind is the software and the soul is what makes us human.  He told a story of a soldier who recently won an important medal for his heroism.  This soldier ended up saving 7 of his group when he went against orders to pull back.  His brain was telling him to turn away for his own safety, his mind knew the consequences of not following orders but his soul is what was the humanity that made him go in and save those people.  So even if our brain and mind are not functioning our soul is always there and that is why the homes are perfect for those living with dementia because it is home and their souls will flourish living there.

 The name of the home was unveiled at the ceremony and was chosen by the veterans and the Guardians.  It will be called The Magnolia House.

Mennonite Home Communities of Ohio Celebrates The Grand Opening of The First Two Green House Homes In Ohio

By: Doug Luginbill, Director of Resource Development and Church Relations

“I want to call your attention to the wind.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed but it’s been blowing!”  With those words, Dr. Bill Thomas stated the obvious but also drew attention to how the “winds of change” have been blowing at Mennonite Home Communities for over fifty years.  The most recent change was why he and others were gathered that day; the blessing of the first two Green House homes in Ohio.

It was a very blustery day as over 250 people gathered under a tent to participate in “A Home Blessing: Celebrating Life.”  The hour-long celebration was marked by Laura Voth, CEO, retelling the eight-year-long journey of persistence and patience that brought Mennonite Home Communities to that day.  Words of thanks were expressed to many people for making that day possible; THE GREEN HOUSE® Project, pH7 Architects, Garlock Brothers Construction, Citizens National Bank, many subcontractors, and staff.  Community supporters were also thanked for the $1.8 million contributed toward the New Vision: Transforming Elder Living campaign that made the project financially feasible.

Phyllis Osborne, an elder who will be moving into one of the homes at Willow Ridge, shared how she had a change of heart about The Green House project.  As an assisted living resident, she was very happy right where she was and couldn’t think of living anywhere else.  When her doctor encouraged her to consider nursing care, she had to “eat crow” and “begged” to see the homes at Willow Ridge.  When she and her family toured the homes, she knew immediately that this was the place for her.  Phyllis, along with her son, a Shahbaz and a member of the clinical support team spoke a litany of mutual support and commitment to one another as a plant was symbolically transplanted and watered.  The litany ended with the following words spoken by those gathered, “Together we nurture one another.  May our Creator bless these homes with purpose and life.”

Lisa Maxwell, Green House Project Guide, shared the importance of being part of the broader Green House network and Ohio Long Term Care Ombudsman expressed appreciation for the person-centered care and culture change focus The Green House homes make possible.

As guests exited the tent they were given a yellow tulip bulb to which was attached the following verse of poetry; “An elder is a person who is still growing, still a learner, still with potential and whose life continues to have within it promise for and connection to the future.”

The celebration ended with a tour of The Green House homes.  Lots of “wows” and “this is beautiful” were heard as guests snacked on cookies made in the homes by Willow Ridge staff.

1st Green House CEO, Steve Mcalilly, wins 2012 LeadingAge Award of Honor

The winners of the 2012 LeadingAge Awards embody the LeadingAge promise, to “Inspire. Serve. Advocate.” As a pioneer of culture change, and innovative care for elders, Steve McAlilly is an extremely deserving recipient. The Green House Project joins Leading Age in honoring this extraordinary leader, who has changed the landscape of skilled nursing care. Click here to read the full article.

Green House model creator, Dr. Bill Thomas, to be honored by The Long Term Care Community Coalition

Green House model creator, Dr. Bill Thomas,”an international authority on geriatric medicine and eldercare”, will be honored by The Long Term Care Coalition in a fundraiser to benefit the coalition. The theme of this year’s fundraiser, “improving the lives of nursing home residents and changing the way we think about the elderly”, is a perfect backdrop to Dr. Thomas’ message that it can be different!

The Long Term Care Community Coalition (LTCCC) is a group devoted to improving care for the elderly and disabled. Their work centers around work to ensure that long term care consumers, who are often very vulnerable, are cared for safely and treated with dignity.

The Green House model, created to be a place where Dr. Thomas’ Eden Alternative Principles can thrive, is a living testement to the goals of the coalition. By simultaneously transforming the philosophy, environment and organizational structures of traditional long term care, real power is shifted to the elder and those working closest to them.

To learn more about the coalition and the fundraiser, click here.

VA Illiana Health Care Campus Shares A Balloon Launch To Remember

“The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion…”

-President Abraham Lincoln in The Gettysburg Address, 1863

Abraham Lincoln’s speech is a reminder of the sacrifice so many have made for our freedom.  It certainly influenced Drusilla (Dru) Ford in her decision to work with veterans at the Freedom House on the VA Illiana Health Care (VAIHC) campus in Danville, Illinois.  Furthermore, serving veterans is a way for Dru to honor her father who fought in World War II.

Across the VAIHC campus, it is important that every veteran is honored and remembered for their service to this country.  When someone passes away, the American flag is draped across his or her bed and personal mementos are displayed in the room.  Family, friends and staff have time to reflect, grieve and celebrate with each another.  “When someone passes away” stated Dru, “it truly feels like I have lost a family member.” 

Building strong, intimate relationships with each veteran is one of the most rewarding aspects of her job as a Shahbaz.  In her own family, it is a ritual to launch balloons shortly after an individual passes away.  She presented this idea to both Green House homes and on July 4th, the first balloon launching ceremony commenced.  Veterans shared stories and sang God Bless America.  It was such a memorable experience that the veterans asked that this become a standing ritual in both Green House homes.

Creating A Safe Place For Older Adults Who Are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender

Kate Waldo and Debbie Wiegand, Project Guides at The Green House Project

It is hard to believe there is a group of older adults who are less likely to use health services, visit their local senior center and be open about their lifestyle when living in a nursing home or assisted living facility.  However, this is the reality for most older adults who are  Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT). 

Kate Waldo, Project Guide at THE GREEN HOUSE ® Project discussed this issue at The Pioneer Network 12th National Conference in Jacksonville, Florida.  She talked about ways aging providers can improve services and support for LGBT older adults.  To say support for this population is inadequate would be an understatement.  So why is this happening? There has been a long history of discrimination, stigmatization and persecution of this population.  The LGBT older adults we are currently serving have lived through heinous treatment, from electric shock therapy as the standard “treatment for homosexuality” to losing their jobs and children for being gay.  It is no wonder many individuals have waited until late life to come out or continue to hide it.    

As health care providers, we cannot be satisfied with services that are not meeting the needs of one of the most vulnerable populations.  To learn more, contact the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging.

“Let’s Play Green House homes”

Edna, a shahbaz at Lebanon Valley Nursing Home shares an experience that occurred in her Green House home.  Sometimes, the evidence that we are changing the way people view aging is in the small details of everyday life…   
“I want to share this story with everyone . I am not a writer so bear with me. One of our elders had her great-grandaughter come to visit from Alaska. The 4 yr old great-grandaughter looked at her grandmother told her “we are going to play Green House home. She told her grandmother she will be “Edna”.  I was quite honored! No one ever wanted to be me before… so they continued to play Green House home. They proceeded to ring the door bell, and the little girl would ask her grandmother who she was here to see, and led her sweetly to the table and so forth.  This brought a smile to my face in all the years I worked in the traditional nursing home, which by the way I started in 1977, I never heard a child want to play “nursing home”….Another reason why I love working in the Hostetter House in Palmyra,  Pa…..Thanks to all of you that make it posssible for us to give our elders what they deserve…..”

"Let's Play Green House homes"

Edna, a shahbaz at Lebanon Valley Nursing Home shares an experience that occurred in her Green House home.  Sometimes, the evidence that we are changing the way people view aging is in the small details of everyday life…   
“I want to share this story with everyone . I am not a writer so bear with me. One of our elders had her great-grandaughter come to visit from Alaska. The 4 yr old great-grandaughter looked at her grandmother told her “we are going to play Green House home. She told her grandmother she will be “Edna”.  I was quite honored! No one ever wanted to be me before… so they continued to play Green House home. They proceeded to ring the door bell, and the little girl would ask her grandmother who she was here to see, and led her sweetly to the table and so forth.  This brought a smile to my face in all the years I worked in the traditional nursing home, which by the way I started in 1977, I never heard a child want to play “nursing home”….Another reason why I love working in the Hostetter House in Palmyra,  Pa…..Thanks to all of you that make it posssible for us to give our elders what they deserve…..”