Methodist Senior Services

Green House® Initiative

 
Because its approach seemed the best way to honor elders, Methodist Senior Services decided to pursue a new way of delivering care based upon the Eden principles developed by Dr. William Thomas. The Green House® concept arising from these principles is designed to de-institutionalize nursing home life and provide an environment where elders engage in meaningful life activities, eliminating the plagues of "loneliness, helplessness and boredom". The idea is to deliver care and services in a facility that is home, not “home-like.”
 
Life revolves around the elders who live there, as opposed to traditional skilled nursing models which revolve around the efficient delivery of medical treatment. Think of a Green House® home as the world’s most efficient home health delivery system, and the concept begins to make sense.
 
The Green House® project was born at Traceway in Tupelo. Our first four homes opened in May, 2004 and six others followed the next year. Since then, we have built two Personal Care/Assisted Living Green House® homes at Riggs Manor in Raymond, and six more Skilled Nursing homes at Martha Coker in Yazoo City.
 
Today, dozens of other organizations throughout the nation and around the world are following in our footsteps. What began as the "right thing to do" has become a revolution that’s changing the way America cares for her elders. Our hope is to eliminate the belief that frail elders need to be in institutional settings in order to receive affordably-priced services. Our vision is to make Mississippi the best place in the country to grow old.
 
Homes are designed to accommodate 10-12 elders in private rooms with private bathrooms surrounding a large living area called "the Hearth," complete with a fireplace, large screen TV and comfortable recliners, chairs and sofas.
 
Recent studies have shown that residents prefer private rooms, and research shows there are a number of reasons privacy adds to the quality of life for elders in skilled nursing facilities. One study conducted by the IDEAS Institute with funding from the Commonwealth Fund indicated private rooms are also cost effective. To read this groundbreaking study, click here. 
 
The relationship of the private rooms to the Hearth allows the elders to control their own level of social engagement by closing their door for privacy, opening it to observe activities in the Hearth, or to join the group and engage in various activities of life such as social interaction, menu planning, meal preparation, setting the table and recreational activities.
 
An open kitchen with breakfast bar and a large family-style dining table invites residents to linger over a cup of coffee and visit with their housemates.  Gone are the meals prepared somewhere else and shipped in on carts and trays. In our Green House® home, meals are prepared from scratch using favorite recipes. The aroma of home-cooked meals fills the air, and there’s always a snack close by, any time, day or night.
 

The primary caregiver in each home is a universal worker called a Shahbaz. Each Shahbaz is a certified nursing assistant who has received more than 150 additional hours of training in such areas as CPR, Safe Serve food handling, first aid, basic home maintenance, and being part of a self-managed work team. Nursing, therapy, clinical and medical support are delivered like home health—they make “house calls.” The mid-level bureaucracy typically found in an institution is gone in the Green House® model. The dollars already in the system are allocated closer to the elder, where they make a bigger difference.
 
MSS is challenging conventional practices by investing heavily in training employees who work most closely with the elders. Our goal is to produce a stable workforce of committed persons who are called to serve older adults. Staff who feel valued and appreciated, who have a significant voice in the operation of our homes are happy employees who take pride in their work and see it as an opportunity for ministry. They tend to become long-term employees. In this way the Green House® concept is addressing an upcoming crisis:  a shortage of caregivers. For more information, click here to view a report produced by Genworth® Financial on this topic.
 
Each Green House® Home meets all regulatory guidelines and falls within Mississippi Medicaid reimbursement levels. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, has endorsed the concept, as has the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
 
For more information about this innovative model, visit the Green House® Project’s homepage.