Growth in a Green House

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Jill Gilbert
Jill Gilbert
The nursing home industry isn't known for setting trends, but that landscape may be changing. 

The Green House Project, which reinvents traditional nursing home environments, is setting the standard for skilled nursing homes that cater to their elderly clientele. At the forefront of this movement is Joyce Ebmeier, VP of Strategic Planning for Tabitha Health Care Services, which operates a Green House home for nine residents in Lincoln, NE.

Ebmeier shed some light on this very viable alternative to the nursing home as we know it. In addition to its Green House, Tabitha runs a 205-bed skilled nursing facility, which they refer to as “the mothership” and has made for a fascinating case study. 

Improved clinical conditions

Comparing the outcomes between the two environments easily showed positive change. Ebmeier says, “In the first year, we experienced improved clinical conditions in nine out of 10 residents. There was an increase in ambulation, desirable weight gain and improved levels of cognition,” she said. 

Green House vs. SNF

The Green House staff works as a self-managed team, running the home just like any other household cooking, cleaning and doing the laundry. Ebmeier explains that while the team works efficiently within the Green House, it wouldn't function as well within the mothership SNF because of the trappings of a traditional environment. 

According to Ebmeier, “the burden of the institution” lies in staffers having to answer to the large departments: their schedules being dictated by the demands of the institution.

A real nursing HOME

On the flip side, Ebmeier explains, a Green House re-establishes autonomy by serving a smaller group. The bureaucracy falls away, and the focus, the routine and the care are all dictated by the residents rather than the institution. 

Next month, the discussion on Green Houses will continue, with a look at the project's impact on the nursing home industry and how residents and their families benefit from this innovative, new kind of care. 

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