Momentum is accelerating at our vernon campus as planning continues towards our long-held vision for a revolutionary nursing home model.
Readers of past Crossroads may be acquainted with the “Green House” approach to the care of seniors needing 24-hour nursing supervision. We’ve pursued this model in different forms for over 12 years. Now, through a partnership in 2017 with the national Green House Project™, (GHP) our vision could see completion within two years.
If you’re unfamiliar with the new model, it helps to understand that most nursing homes were designed at a time when the only model for long-term care was the local hospital. As a result, many homes are “institutional” in nature, with a look and feel that’s more clinical than anything like a real home.
The traditional nursing home setting can often foster a sense of loneliness, helplessness and boredom for residents living there on a permanent basis. As a result, the adjustment from home to a nursing home has been stoically endured by seniors for decades as a necessary but disagreeable choice.
Since 2003, however, a visionary concept from an innovative group of professional has grown nationwide. The Green House model is both clinical and non-institutional. Currently there are 243 such facilities in the U. S. If successful, our campus in Vernon would be home to the first Green House in Vermont.
What does a Green House facility look like? This living room/common area at another Green House provides a flavor.
Physically, a Green House is distinct. Elders live in individual clusters of houses that accommodate up to 10-12 elders each. All rooms and bathrooms are private. The house contains a central living and dining room for meals and most activities, plus a full kitchen for meal and snack preparation.
In Green Houses, natural and architectural design (décor, lighting, use of gardens) are considered equal in importance to functional concerns. At the same time, they employ advanced technology that is subtle and makes care practices non-intrusive.
Just as distinctive is the Green House’s care model, based on GHP core values of “Real Home, Meaningful Life and Empowered Staff.” Instead of operating on the basis of pre-set functions and routines that benefit administrative efficiencies and the staff’s schedule, care is resident-centered. For example, elders may choose when they rise, eat and recreate.
Further, the care model is designed to enhance a consistent, family-style atmosphere within each house. Staff are empowered to collaborate in daily routines rather than via traditional “top down” lines of management.
Statistics collected since their inception show that Green Houses bring measurable improvements to care quality, resident satisfaction, and staff members’ sense of fulfillment. Even the overall cost of care for families and payment systems is notably less in Green House communities.
In Vernon, more than building plans are in the works. since the green house model is rooted in a fundamentally different Philosophy of care, management is training staff and ancillary providers in Culture change – a realignment of norms and values that will guide daily operations.
But while revolutionary in the long-term care profession, the Green House approach will simply make tangible something that has marked the Vernon campus throughout its history: innovation and a commitment to superlative service for the sake of those entrusted to our care. Stay tuned as we pursue this historic vision in days to come!