Green House Projects are a Model for Long-Term Care

Joe Weinlick
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America's attitude toward nursing homes is set to change thanks to the Green House Project, an initiative started in 2003 by Dr. Bill Thomas. Twenty-seven states had adopted the model by 2014, and it continues to spread throughout the nation, offering a long-term care alternative for the 1.5 million Americans in need of assisted living arrangements.

Thomas explains that people generally don't want to live in a nursing home. This is typically true despite the positive attributes of nursing homes of around-the-clock care, support and opportunities to remain active. Even with the advantages, however, seniors and their loved ones dread the thought of spending their last days in a rest home.

The Green House Project presents a new model for traditional nursing homes, a place where elders can continue to grow rather than settle down to die. Thomas envisions a true home-like setting that encourages residents to live comfortably, interacting with one another like a family while maintaining the professional level of care that an assisted-living facility requires.

Green House facilities are not as rigid as traditional nursing homes, allowing residents more control over their daily schedules. A communal kitchen encourages the inhabitants to cook and dine together in a family-like atmosphere, and flexible meal times are available to accommodate everyone, with residents choosing when to eat.

Designed to house 10 to 12 individuals at a time, the Green House model features private bedrooms and baths to provide each resident with a personal retreat, while numerous common areas throughout the facility allow plenty of opportunities for socializing and entertainment. Dedicated staff members work closely with the inhabitants and each other, resulting in happier, healthier residents.

As of 2014, 167 long-term care facilities in the United States operated under the Green House model, and more than 100 additional nursing homes were under construction. Various organizations and investors provide funding for each home. The Sheridan home in Sheridan, Wyoming, for instance, is a community-sponsored establishment that operates through donations, fundraising and grants.

Green House facilities accept private-party payments and insurance compensation, including payments from Medicare and Medicaid, so that all seniors have access to the assisted living they need, as well as the comfortable lifestyle they desire. The project offers elders across the nation a chance to grow old surrounded by loved ones in a healthy and safe environment.

The Green House Project brings new life to a once dreaded situation. The cheerful, homey atmosphere of Green House facilities lets seniors enjoy their golden years without the signs of aging holding them back. By 2014, 1,735 individuals lived in Green House homes, and that number continues to increase rapidly as more health care professionals realize the importance of new models for traditional nursing homes.


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