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The Green House Model: A New Way to View Elder Care?

Posted by Brian Spence on Mar 25, 2015 8:00:00 AM

Elder Care, Long Term Care, Healthcare StaffingFor many elderly people, just the thought of moving into a long-term care facility causes anxiety and dread. They often fear a loss of independence and view long-term care facilities as a place where large groups of senior citizens go to die. They're not alone in their perceptions either. Caregiving advocates across the country have long viewed nursing facilities as warehouses where the elderly are shipped to await death. These advocates cite the lack of privacy-- residents often share room with complete strangers-- and lack of attention as just two of the ways that most nursing facilities are failing our nation's elderly people.

Enter Dr. Bill Thomas, a Harvard-educated geriatrician and one of the creators of a new model for long-term care: The Green House Project. Dr. Thomas's model, co-created with Steve McAlilly, focuses on providing a nurturing environment where the elderly can live out their final days. According to Dr. Thomas:

"No one wants to live in a nursing home, [but] if you reach the age of 65, you have a 50 percent chance of spending a significant amount of time in a nursing home."

How does the Green House differ from the traditional nursing home?

Here are just a few of the ways that the Green House focuses on providing care that allows the elderly to live in healthier, more productive, and more meaningful ways:

  • Smaller size. Gone is the institution-like feeling associated with many nursing homes. The Green House project consists of a cluster of small homes, with six to ten residents per home.

  • Green living. The Green House homes focus on being connected with the outdoors. They let in an abundance of sunlight with outdoor access and have garden areas for residents to work in or simply enjoy.

  • High tech. Green Houses put available technology to good use in their homes. They use adaptive devices, computers, and ceiling lifts.

  • Autonomy. There's no sharing a room with a stranger in the Green Houses. Instead, residents get their own private rooms with a bathroom. Additionally, they are not required to attend scheduled events. Instead, they can participate - or elect not to - whenever they desire. If they'd like to cook or garden, they can. If they'd like to read a book alone in their room, they can do that too.

  • A cozy environment. Green House homes don't have the sterile feel of many nursing facilities. Their layouts encourage social interaction and they are decorated to feel like home. Staff members wear everyday clothes instead of nursing uniforms.

The hope of many caregiving advocates is that the Green House model becomes the norm for geriatric care, not the exception to traditional nursing homes. That's why filmmaker Dale Bell created a documentary titled "Home on the Range: The New Pioneers", chronicling the 12-year journey to create the nation's first Green House home in Sheridan, Wyoming. Dr. Seymour Thickman, a physician featured in Bell's film, had this to say about the Green House model:

"[Residents] can enjoy the sense and the hope and the dignity of being considered the human being that they once were."

For more information about hiring Home Health Aides for the eldery or other caregivers, don't hesitate to contact us.

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Topics: Behavioral Health

Staffing Plus is a premier healthcare staffing firm that provides temporary, per diem, temp-to-hire and permanent Staffing Solutions for Behavioral Health, Education, and Healthcare settings. We have leveraged decades of experience to assist organizations with the challenges of managing their HR and Recruiting needs.