Green Houses

    • October 12, 2009

A Green House™ is a group-home alternative to the traditional nursing home. Instead of a large facility with many elderly residents, a Green House has only six to 10 residents, each with a private bedroom and bath and a central area for cooking, eating, and gathering. For meals, meetings and recreation, the residents of a house come together around a large table in an open cooking and dining area. Staff members join in as well.

In short, the Green House is a home in appearance and function. As with a home, there is no such thing as a nursing station. Clinical services are available, but the medical model is de-emphasized.

With support from RWJF, the Center for Growing and Becoming provided technical assistance and communications for the development of four Green Houses in Tupelo, Mississippi. (See Program Results on ID# 052576.)

An evaluation of the sites compared outcomes for Green House residents to outcomes for similar patients in other facilities. The evaluation found that the Tupelo Green Houses had positive effects on residents, family and staff. Findings included:

  • Green House residents' satisfaction with where they lived was greater than that of the two comparison groups.
  • The Green House residents had a higher quality of life across a variety of dimensions, including dignity and relationships.
  • Almost all significant results from an analysis of nursing home quality indicators—such as the proportion of residents with bedsores and the proportion maintaining physical function—favored the Green House residents over the other two groups.

Based on the success of the Tupelo pilot, RWJF funded a replication that since November 2005 has been working to spur the development of 100 or more Green House communities by the end of 2010. As of October 2006, four Green House projects were open and in operation, and another 20 projects were under construction or in pre-construction development, according to Jenkins at NCB Capital Impact.