OUR OPINION: Green Houses’ impact seen after 10 years

By NEMS Daily Journal

Sunday’s 10th anniversary celebration of the Green Houses at Traceway – a nationwide benchmark in the environment and method for skilled long-term care of elders – affirms a vision given substance and success by Methodist Senior Services of Mississippi at its Tupelo campus.
Ten Green Houses – homes housing elders whose nurture is entrusted to caregivers called Shahbazim (Shahbaz is the singular) – have been built on the northern edge of the Tupelo campus. They have been so successful that the former long-corridor, hospital-like facility called Cedars Health Center has transitioned entirely to other uses.
Methodist Senior Services decided to pursue a new way of delivering care based upon the Eden principles developed by Dr. Bill Thomas, a physician in New York state. He used words like “Eden” model to powerfully suggest what the goal of elder care should be. The Green Houses are homes, with private rooms for everyone, all opening on a “Hearth area,” with a dining table and the other household items and furniture pulling families together.
The Green House concept is “designed to de-institutionalize nursing home life … eliminating the plagues of ‘loneliness, helplessness and boredom.’”
Sunday’s celebration is for the community and, of course, for the elders who live in the Green Houses.
The celebration begins at 3 p.m. and includes a barbecue meal, entertainment, activities, and a special ceremony at 4 p.m.
Mississippi Methodist Senior Services, as CEO Steve McAlilly noted in a Daily Journal article, replaced a culture rather than try to change an entrenched one.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a profoundly influential name in health care, has committed to Green Houses with a $10 million program to build Green Houses in all 50 states.
This is what the foundation’s website says about the results:
“THE GREEN HOUSE® Project represents a revolution in long-term care, creating small homes that return control, dignity, and a sense of well-being to elders, while providing high-quality, personalized care.
“The results of The Green House Project are simple and profound: elders are happier and healthier. RWJF support is helping to spread The Green House model across the United States. More than 260 Green House homes in 32 states are open or under development.”
And it all started in Tupelo at Traceway.