Revolutionizing Elder Care

    • November 1, 2011

Laurie Tarkan of the New York Times describes the Green House Project model as, “the most comprehensive effort to reinvent the nursing home...including the way medical care is delivered.” The article, “A Nursing Home Shrinks Until It Feels Like a Home,” comes on the heels of the opening of The Green House Project’s 100th home in West Orange, NJ, where the Foundation announced a partnership to triple the number of Green House homes nationwide in three years.

The Green House Project creates small, intentional communities for groups of elders and staff to focus on living full and vibrant lives. The model is a radical departure from traditional nursing homes and assisted living facilities – altering facility size, interior design, organizational structure, staffing patterns, and methods of delivering skilled professional services. In each home, elders receive a high level of personalized and professional medical care and support with daily living, without feeling that their lives are being disrupted or overtaken. In essence, Green House facilities feel more like home, supporting the dignity and independence of each elder in the process of delivering quality care.

The New York Times article highlights that, “residents say they feel like they have deeper relationships with the staff, and family members report higher satisfaction with the physical environment, privacy, their own autonomy, health care and meals.” Staff also benefit from the warm atmosphere of a Green House, reporting higher job satisfaction and increased likelihood of remaining in their jobs.

A recent RWJF poll conducted in partnership with NPR and the Harvard School of Public Health reveals that older Americans are deeply concerned about the prospect of residing in a nursing home. In addition, a September 2011 article in Senior Housing & Care Journal concludes that Green House homes provide better care at no greater operating cost than traditional nursing homes. Recent analysis of research data by the same authors also suggests that Green House homes may offer substantial savings to Medicare and Medicaid through avoidable hospitalization and pressure ulcers.

To promote adoption on a wider scale, the Foundation is launching an accelerated expansion of the Green House initiative by following a three-pronged strategy:

  • Phasing Green House into the mainstream of long-term care
  • Creating viable financing options for new Green Houses through the creation of a $10-million loan fund
  • Researching and evaluating the quality, cost and outcomes of Green House care