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Cutting edge small nursing homes: Green Houses

Written by Diane Archer

If you’re looking into nursing homes for yourself or someone you love, consider a Green House.  Green Houses, conceived by Dr. William Thomas, are non-traditional nursing homes that transform long-term care, focusing on person-centered care.  They are small nursing homes that are designed to look and feel like a real home. And they promote caregiver relationships based on mutual respect and empowerment to make the lives of their residents meaningful.

Green Houses are for older adults with or without disabilities. Studies show that they improve quality of life for residents, with higher resident satisfaction and as good health outcomes.  

Green Houses are designed for between 10-12 residents.  Each resident has his or her own bedroom and bathroom, and there is a shared living room, dining room and kitchen.  The residents design their own daily routines.  

Caregivers, nurse assistants, and social workers work together as a team to provide personalized care for residents. They provide four times more personal and social contact with residents than a traditional skilled nursing home. Staff are happier with their work than traditional nursing home staff.  

Studies show that the costs to Medicare and Medicaid are as much as $2300 less than a traditional nursing home.  And, data show fewer hospitalizations for residents relative to people in traditional nursing homes.  

Green Houses can be established as part of a traditional nursing home or independently. They began operating in 2003.  Today, there are 175 Green Houses, with about 1700 beds, in 27 states.  More than half the residents have Medicaid.  There are 16,000 nursing homes in the U.S., with about 1.5 million beds.

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1 Comment

  • My partner was in what was called a “Green House” in Jacksonville, Fla. All the components were in place. Unfortunately, the common room and kitchen were open areas. I lived 6 hours away and called every afternoon. The noise was horrendous – loud TV, pots and pans banging, chatter just plain LOUD. We had trouble really conversing. It got worse as time passed.
    My partner continued to have urinary tact infections – a sign that his incontinence was not watched closely enough and diapers not being changed as often as needed. Or, maybe it was just cleanliness carelessness from staff.
    The patient care giver ratio was 4-1. The food was somewhere between terrible to well, sort of OK. How many times can you give processed meat sandwiches or hot dogs and potato chips and call it dinner?
    My partner died of complications from a broken hip and arm and pneumonia.
    I know that other nursing/assisted living facilities aren’t much better. The Green House is great on paper and maybe even some of them meet standards set out by Dr. Thomas. Perhaps it was because my partner was in one that was run by a large corporation. Since I didn’t choose this place (his daughter did), I can’t be sure. I did warn her that all that looks wonderful on paper often isn’t.
    The buyer beware.

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