The Green House Project recently joined 250 of our closest friends from around the country at the 7th Annual Green House Meeting and Celebration in Memphis, Tennessee! Together, with Green House model adopters, we brushed up on our Elvis impersonation, moved to some funky blues music and chowed down on some of the country’s best BBQ! The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation welcomed the attendees to the meeting. As their generous grant funding nears its end, it was a powerful time to reflect with gratitude at all that has been accomplished, and our future momentum. The theme of the conference was Leading with Heart and Soul, and with the passion and energy in the room, it was a befitting frame for our time together.
This year’s conference took place at the historic and beautiful Peabody Memphis hotel, with a true Memphis welcome from elder, and owner of the Peabody, Jack Belz. The voice of the elder was found throughout the conference, with a “Ted Talk” by Twylah and David Haun, elders who were the driving force behind bringing The Green House project to John Knox Village in Pompano Beach, Fl, and videos of elders from Green House homes around the country talking about their lives and what this model means to them. The shahbaz, the versatile house manager and direct care staff in The Green House model, also had a prominent role in this year’s conference. Dr. Bill Thomas honored the many shahbazim in attendance with the continued imperative to protect, sustain and nurture the elders,-and he issued a challenge for everyone to consider: “What’s next?”
The Green House Annual Meeting is an energy boost for everyone in attendance.The networking, shared experiences and speakers all inspire us and challenge us to grow. The THRIVE collaborative is a group of esteemed researchers from top universities around the country, who have joined together to conduct studies on The Green House model that will illustrate the impact of this model on the cost and quality of health care. The results of these studies will highlight how we can continue to evolve and grow this model. They shared outcomes to date, and implications to Green House adopters. In a dynamic and innovative time, protecting the value of The Green House brand is key. This research, along with the newly unveiled, Model Integrity Process, will ensure that while Green House homes look different across the country, they all uphold the core values of real home, meaningful life and empowered staff.
Carman Bowman gave a provocative and illuminating talk as she uncovered some of the mystery around regulations, and described how certain “F-Tags” can be utilized by nursing home operators to support person-directed care. She challenged the group to educate themselves and educate their surveyors about how we can met the elders’ needs while responsibly moving away from chair alarms, certain dietary restrictions, and other institutional practices that don’t serve our field.
As Manager of Social Responsibility at FedEx, Rose Jackson Flenorl directs and implements the company’s community outreach strategy in the areas of Disaster Relief, Safety, Environment, Education, and Diversity in national and international markets. Rose wowed the crowd by drawing parallels between FedEx and The Green House model as initiatives that started as a dream and became a reality that changed a field. Rose shared the personal story of her upbringing and her desire to provide her parents with the love and care that she thought only could come from her, until she visited the Ave Maria Green House homes in Memphis. She now she has hope that long term care can be different. Rose’s open hearted presentation of leadership, risk, and those ideas that change the world, riveted the audience, and validated the work that we do.
Beth Baker, insightful author of With a Little Help From Our Friends, Creating Community as We Grow Older, closed the conference with a message of interdependence. We need to take care of each other and age in community. As Michele Kort, Senior Editor of Ms. Magazine describes, “Beth Baker courageously and empathetically asks the question many Baby Boomers avoid: How will we make it through our aging years with dignity, independence and pleasure? The answers she receives from folks around the US, straight and LGBT, reassure us that there are already promising paths being carved.”
Beyond educational sessions on team building, leadership, policy quality outcomes and Green House operations, site visits to the Ave Maria Green House homes created a “seeing is believing” experience for many of organizations who are still in the financial exploration phase, and a chance for those implementing and sustaining the model to learn from each other. The Green House Annual Meeting & Celebration is an excellent opportunity to connect with fellow Green House pioneers, to learn, grow, and leave inspired to lead as we continue to champion change that meaningfully impacts the lives of Elders.
To see recorded videos of selected sessions, please visit our YouTube Page. We, at The Green House Project thank everyone for making this the best meeting yet, and look forward to seeing even more Green House adopters next year for the 8th Annual Green House Meeting and Celebration in Colorado!