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The Green House Project: The Next Big Thing in Long-Term Care

Dana Larsen
By Dana LarsenJuly 30, 2015

Last Updated: April 22, 2019

A model for long-term care that resembles the Eden Alternative from the 1990s, the Green House Project moves away from the 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, 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. Read more about the Green House Project and how elders can live in comfort with companionship and dignity there.

The Eden Alternative vs. The Green House Project

A Place for Mom’s Director of Partner Development, 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.”

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The main difference between the two senior housing concepts is in the building and planning 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”
  • The Green House Project focuses on helping companies and individuals build or convert residential homes that can provide high levels of care for individuals who do not wish to be in a nursing home setting

The driving force behind the Green House Project is the idea that our current nursing home system needs fundamental changes to make our loved ones’ lives healthier, livelier and more meaningful. “We can use the… values of elderhood as the basis for creating real homes and communities that can nurture, protect and sustain the most vulnerable among us,” says Dr. William Thomas.

5 Ways the Green House Project Differs From Traditional Long-Term Care

  1. Autonomy: Seniors have their own private bathroom and room, and they are free from scheduling. They are able to access shared and social areas of the house at any time, making it truly feel like home.
  2. Green Living: In this case, “green” means living within the natural world. Green House Project homes let in plenty of sunlight and include garden areas, plants and outdoor access.
  3. Intimacy: Instead of a traditional group home, a Green House Project community consists of clusters of smaller homes with 6-10 senior residents.
  4. Smart Technology: Green House communities use smart technology such as adaptive devices, computers and ceiling lifts.
  5. 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 decor and furnishings that provide comfort.

Ways to Find the Right Long-Term Care Option For Your Loved One

While the Green House Project is an inspiring concept, it will take some time to see its impact on traditional long-term care and senior housing.

A Place for Mom partners with the following Eden Alternative and Green House Project long-term care homes:

  • Eldercare Cottages in Waterford, Wisconsin
  • The Green House Residences in Jacksonville, Florida
  • Green Hill Retirement Community in West Orange, New Jersey
  • Asbury Park in Newton, Kansas
  • White Oak Cottages in Westwood, Massachusetts

Families must keep in mind that senior housing accommodations should be tailored to each senior’s individual desires and needs. There are a variety of long-term care and senior housing environments that cater to specific seniors needs, from independent living to memory care.

Have you, a parent or senior loved one lived in a Green House Project community? We’d like to hear more about your experiences in the comments below.

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