In his #1 New York Times best seller Being Mortal, Medicine and What Matters in the End, Atul Gawande covers a lot of great topics having to do with aging.
Dr. Gawande traces the roots of skilled nursing facilities to their origins, the poor houses and poor farms that were largely serving as institutions for the elderly by the 1920s and 1930s. Too many facilities today sadly have not progressed beyond this model of care. In fact, four years ago Alana Semuels wrote in an article in The Atlantic “after plenty of isolated successes, the question isn’t what good nursing homes look like, but how to transform existing facilities into places that look like them.”
Both Dr. Gawande and Semuels cover the Leonard Florence Center for Living in Chelsea, MA. The Florence Center is an example of the Green House concept developed by Dr. Bill Thomas some 15 years ago, with the first homes being built in Tupelo, MS. Today there are 200 Green Houses in 32 states with more being constructed every year.
In Kansas, the Department for Aging and Disability Services sanctioned a similar model known as Home Plus Homes about 25 years ago. With only 4 Green Houses, Kansas nevertheless boasts over 150 Home Plus homes housing approximately 1500 residents in single-family neighborhoods, with 50 homes in Wichita or Sedgwick County where one of the early promoters of this model, ComfortCare Homes was founded. These homes are tremendous alternatives to traditional institutional facilities.
Relaying a patient’s experience in visiting the Florence Center, Dr. Gawande recounts the event this way:
The guide took them through it. They called the place a Green House, but the patient didn’t know what that meant. All he knew was “It didn’t look like a nursing home to me.”
“What did it look like?” Gawande asked.
“A home,” he said.
Semuels writes that these homes “…are all very different but share a few commonalities—each is designed for just 10-12 residents and are built around a common living room and dining room.” But Green Houses (and Home Plus homes) “…’are not just about architecture,’ according to Scott Brown who works for the Green House Project.”
“The other two parts are culture change, which is focused on person-centered care, and organizational change—we use a very progressive organizational model that focuses on empowered teams and a coaching approach to leadership,” he said.
These are apt descriptions of Morningstar’s operation and care homes located in Baldwin City and Ottawa. Caregivers are responsible for only 5 or 6 residents each, a vastly different ratio than traditional models in these towns where the norm is having a caregiver handle 15-20 residents. Skilled nursing services are provided daily, along with in-home visits from physicians, nurse-practitioners, therapists, home health nurses, podiatrists and other professionals. Hospice services insure this will be the last home, the last move for your loved one.
And our homes now house people whose needs could be accommodated in Assisted Living, or for whom memory issues have not arisen—they just need traditional nursing care but have chosen our setting to be their Real Home, where we give them Real Care.
Our locations in Fredonia and Neodesha are likewise modeled on the Home Plus concepts shared here and are nestled in single-family neighborhoods as well.
Words cannot adequately describe our homes, designed for ABUNDANT LIFE and SUCCESS IN EVERY DAY LIVING, not for death and dying. Please call for a tour today!