Green House Blog

2017: Building the Future – Beyond Better

While 2016 was an impressive year with more than 200 homes open and operating in 30 states, we expect to see that momentum continue in 2017!  It will be a year where we will see our first PACE Green House homes open in Michigan…and the first Green House homes will be opening in Rhode Island, where Saint Elizabeth Home broke a 20 year moratorium on new nursing home beds.

Here’s a quick look at how the year is shaping up for Grand Openings and Groundbreaking ceremonies:

Grand Openings:

rivertown_windows-in-dining-room-pvm_pic-twoPresbyterian Villages of MichiganDetroit, MI

2 Homes


The first PACE Green House Homes in the country–this development is part of the Thome Rivertown Neighborhood in Detroit, MI




Clark Lindsey Village,  Urbana, IL 

2 homes


1st home opens in January, 2nd home



cottages-of-lake-st-louis-032Cottages of Lake St. Louis, Lake St. Louis MO

6 homes


1st home opens Jan 23rd with homes opening sequentially through Spring




Belle Meade RehabilitationParagould, AR

9 homes








Saint Elizabeth Home, East Greenwich, RI

4 homes


Click here for more details on this project



bridgewater-at-hanover-construction-november-30-2016Grace Senior Services/Bridgewater,

Hanover, MN

2 AL homes






Janesville, MN

2 AL homes






Buckner – Calder Woods, Beaumont, TX

2 homes






jewish-senior-life-dec-2016Jewish Senior Life, Rochester, NY

9 homes








VMRC, Harrisonburg, VA

5 homes (in addition to their 3 existing)

3 homes open early fall (September) and 2 homes open 6 weeks later






West Vue, Inc.,West Plains, MO

3 homes






Cave City Nursing Home, Cave City, AR

4 homes





Southern Administrative Services,   Little Rock, AR

10 homes




Sharing a Favorite Salad During This Holiday Season Can Bring Unexpected Joy

During the holidays we like to feature a recipe from an Elder in a Green House home.  This year we are featuring a Cranberry Jell-O salad that was a favorite of Millicent Stutzman who lives in the Showalter House at the Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community in Harrisonburg, VA.  Her daughter, Marliese Poskitt, shares the story below concerning this special salad.  There is no recipe for this salad…so her daughter made the salad this Thanksgiving from the memory of watching and helping her mother over the years.


“Thanksgiving at our house always involved getting out the metal food grinder that attached to the end of our kitchen counter like a vise. Mom washed the cranberries, peeled the apples, and Dad put them through the old hand-cranked grinder. Along with chopped pecans and Jell-O, it made a delicious and colorful salad. The holiday doesn’t seem the same now without her Cranberry Jell-O salad. So, when we were invited to have Thanksgiving Dinner with her at the Showalter House, I washed the cranberries, peeled the apples, and chopped the nuts (with my electric food processor) and brought Mom’s salad to share. At dinner, Mom tasted it and her eyes lit up a little. She said “That’s me! That’s me!” and pointed to the salad. At 94, having dealt with memory loss issues for many years, she struggles to communicate with us. We don’t know for certain what was going on in her mind, but to my brother and me, she seemed to be saying, “Hey, that’s my recipe!” The salad, and her response, was her gift to us this Thanksgiving.”
And so we share the gift with you and perhaps you might enjoy making Cranberry Jell-O Salad for or with your family for Christmas.”

Going Home: Ron Yoder, VMRC, and THE GREEN HOUSE® Project

Ron Yoder has a deep memory of being a young child and, every weekend accompanying his parents to visit his grandfather, who had suffered a debilitating stroke. Ron remembers him in a bed in the living room, being cared for by the family. He remembers him in his home…and dying in his home.

Years later when Ron’s father got older and sick, the family got to a point where they couldn’t care for him anymore and eventually his father was transported to a nursing home. Ron was four hours away by car. His father died there. It felt different.

Maybe Ron knew it then or maybe he knew it later, but eventually he admitted to himself, “I’m the generation that’s not caring for their parents.” And he knew he needed to do something about it.

This is what Ron Yoder carried into his office when he became president of Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community (VMRC) and Woodland Park, a long-term care facility in Virginia, in early 1999. He also carried with him not a health-care background, but a business background, and a track record of making places better. And he carried his ability to listen.

So when he first came to work, he didn’t go forward. Instead, he went back—all the way back to the founding, planning, and vision documents that VMRC’s advisory board had crafted in the 1970s. What he found were articles about “normalization”—a desire to carry forward the residents’ patterns and conditions of everyday life. That stuck.

What also stuck was VMRC’s track record of following that path and implementing some radical change every decade. He wondered what he would do. He thought of normalization and how its intellectual and philosophical framework could help shape the design of new programs and upgrading of existing programs and facilities. That’s when he found The Green House Project and saw how perfectly the two aligned.

By the time he started, VMRC already had made innovations such as creating “neighborhoods” instead of corridors—an innovation that took place before Ron got there, but residents still needed more private space and still had to share rooms divided only by curtains. Ron knew that wasn’t home. It became a moral imperative to keep moving toward normalization. In The Green House model, Ron and VMRC found what they were looking for.

They found the blueprint for a system that could offer to someone who needs complete living care an environment that is home.
“There were other models out there, but most still used a lot of the same central services,” he said. “None went as far as The Green House Project does in creating a home environment. None rose to our levels of value—our philosophy.”

So VMRC signed on with The Green House Project, who provided a practical model and a plan for success. The Green House Project also gave VMRC a network and an association of project adopters so that it would continue to be a member of and contributor to a learning community.

The Green House Project had data showing increased satisfaction of residents, employees, and families, and it also shared the research it had conducted on other projects showing an increase in positive clinical outcomes. It was that last result, combined with the alignment in philosophy, in caring, and in dignity that solidified VMRC’s decision to work with The Green House Project.

VMRC opened three Green House homes this January in their Woodland Park neighborhood, with plans to build 10 in the future to replace the entire institutional environment. They’re all full. Actually, they were full before they opened. They had chosen one existing “neighborhood” of VMRC with around 30 residents, plus staff, and offered the new model to them as an option. Most residents and staff said yes.

And although the data is just coming in, the stories are already here. Ron was in the wellness center doing his strength training the other day and saw one of the new residents.
“Morris, what’s the news from Woodland Park?” he said. “You still happy?”

“Yes, yes, still happy,” Morris replied. “Actually, I heard one of the other residents say, ‘I never thought I’d live long enough to go home.’”

Real Home and Real Relationships are Positive for People Living with Dementia (and all people)

At a recent Leading Age Luncheon, CEO of Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community (VMRC), Ron Yoder, shared a story that illustrated the power of home over institution to support those living with dementia

In 2000, VMRC had a secured Alzheimer’s neighborhood in its nursing center. The layout is semi-private rooms on both sides of a middle corridor and a sitting area at the entrance to the neighborhood. When the carpet needed to be replaced, the residents were moved to an assisted living neighborhood during the day while the workers were laying the carpet.

The assisted living neighborhood is “homelike” — private rooms and private baths surrounding common/shared spaces consisting of a dining room, living/sitting room, and residential kitchen.

The first day the residents were in the assisted living neighborhood their caregivers reported that the residents were more alert and active. At the end of the day residents asked, “can we stay here?” and not return to the Alzheimer’s neighborhood.

I remember reflecting that if a “homelike physical environment” has that profound of a life giving impact on residents with Alzheimer’s disease compared to an “institutional environment,” it creates a moral imperative to change.

Several years ago the Alzheimer’s neighborhood in the nursing center was closed. We now have three memory care neighborhoods in the assisted living community for residents with various types of dementia. Residents with dementia who require 24-hour complete living care (need assistance with all ADLs) live throughout the nursing center rather than in a dedicated neighborhood.

The Green House Model takes this concept to the next level through a real home environment, person-centered focus, and deeply knowing relationships that create an ideal space for a person with dementia to thrive.   As a thought leader in the field of aging, The Green House Project recently participated in a TEDMED Great Challenges Series on the growing challenge of dementia. Through this online panel and twitter (#GreatChallenges) conversation, many innovative ideas were shared, with a focus on person-centered care, increased training for staff, and support for caregivers.

Cleared trees rooted in furniture in Virginia’s first Green House homes

Residents and staff who gather for meals in any of the three Woodland Park homes on the campus of VMRC will be seated at a table made from trees cleared from the site. Several of the white oak trees were cut, dried then hollowed out for preparation for the woodworking phase.

Marv Nisly, vice president of Design & Construction at VMRC, said that

there was talk during construction if there was a use for the trees in the homes. “We considered some options and estimated the amount of wood we would need,” he said. VMRC received in-kind services in part from Willow Run Saw Mill and Lantz Woodworking for the furniture-making process.

The result was three sets of several pieces of furniture for each home in the Woodland Park neighborhood: a dining room table which seats 14, a hutch, a game table, side table and matching bookshelves. The white oak pieces were then stained and finished to match the furniture decor in the homes.

VMRC officials say the response has been overwhelming when people learn the


story of the furniture. “Many white oak and ash trees graced the property where the original Woodland building was located on VMRC’s campus. When the building was razed to clear the site for Woodland Park, we intentionally kept as many trees that we could,” said Maureen Pearson, VMRC’s director of Communications. “Using the wood from


the cleared trees means that the residents of Woodland Park will continue to enjoy those trees but in a different form.”