The Green House Project: The Next Big Thing in Long-Term Care?
A new model for long-term senior care, that resembles the Eden Alternative from the 90s, moves away from the institutional one-size-fits-all philosophy and towards “person-directed care” that emphasizes autonomy, dignity and well-being. If you haven’t yet heard of the Green House Project or Eden Alternative, chances are you will soon. Thanks to funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, there are already more than 100 Green House Project homes in 32 states, with more than 100 more in the works. The project’s mastermind, Dr. William Thomas, sees this as a much-needed revolution in the way America approaches senior housing. In 1991, he created the Eden Alternative as an effort to “de-institutionalize” and enliven the long-term care environment, and his 21st-century Green House Project has been creating specially-designed homes in which elders can live with dignity, comfort and companionship.
Green House Project vs. Eden Alternative
A Place for Mom expert, Tiffany Wise, notes that “The Eden Alternative and Green House Project are two separate organizations with similar goals; to provide seniors the opportunity to be cared for in a non-institutionalized environment.” The main difference between the two senior housing concepts is in the planning/building creation phases, as noted below:
The Eden Alternative focuses on partnering with nursing homes to help them change their culture, environment and approach to care to “create a habitat for human beings rather than facilities for the frail and elderly,” according to the Eden Alternative core philosophy. Many assisted living communities were founded on similar principles.
The Green House Project focuses on helping companies and individuals convert or build residential homes that can provide high levels of care for individuals who do not wish to be a in a nursing home setting. Some of the homes are licensed as nursing homes and others as assisted living communities.
Turning Senior Housing into Senior Homes
The driving force behind the Green House Project is the idea that our current nursing home system tends to create sterile, lifeless environments for our elders, which in turn fosters loneliness and boredom. Fundamental changes to the way we build and operate senior housing can make our loved ones’ lives healthier, livelier and more meaningful. “We can use the historic strengths and values of elderhood as the basis for creating real homes and communities that can protect, sustain and nurture the most vulnerable among us,” says Dr. William Thomas.
5 Ways the Green House Project is Different from Traditional Senior Housing
- Intimacy: Instead of a traditional group home, a Green House Project community consists of clusters of smaller homes with six to ten senior residents.
- Autonomy: Seniors have their own private room and bathroom; further, they are free from scheduling and able to access social and shared areas of the house at any time, making it truly feel like home.
- Warmth: This is one of the core values of the Green House Project. A warm living situation consists of a layout that encourages social activity, as well as furnishings and décor that provide comfort.
- Smart Technology: Green House communities use smart technology such as adaptive devices, computers, pagers, and ceiling lifts.
- Green Living: In this case, “green” means living within the natural world. Green House homes let in plenty of sunlight, and include plants, garden areas, and outdoor access.
Finding the Best Senior Living Environment For Your Loved One
While the Green House Project is an inspiring and attractive concept, it will take time to see whether it really breaks the mold of traditional senior housing.
A Place for Mom works with the following Green House and Eden Alternative retirement homes:
- Eldercare Cottages Waterford WI
- Mt. San Antonio Gardens in Pomona CA
- The Green House Residences in Jacksonville FL
- Green Hill Retirement Community in West Orange NJ
- Asbury Park in Newton KS
- White Oak Cottages in Westwood MA
- Leonard Florence Center for Living in Chelsea MA
- The Villa at Redford in Redford MI
Families must keep in mind that senior housing accommodations should be tailored to each senior’s individual needs and desires. There are a variety of senior care levels and environments that cater to specific seniors needs, from independent living to memory care. Contact a Senior Living Advisor to help save your family time and learn about invaluable resources in your area that can help assist you with your search.
What do you think of the Green House Project? The concept of independent, home-like senior housing has been around since the early 1990s but hasn’t become the mainstream dominant form of senior care. Do you think the Green House Project will have more success?The Green House Project: The Next Big Thing in Long-Term Care? by Dana Larsen
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