Where Home is the Key in Reinventing the Nursing Home

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Life Care's Miller Presents Globally on Green House® Project

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Here in the United States, LCRC advances the social model in our nursing centers by offering private rooms at many of our communities, activities like the new Nintendo Wii Games including

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Kay J. Miller, M.S.W. of Life Care Retirement Communities (LCRC) in Des Moines, IA, recently returned from Kyoto, Japan where she presented the Green House® Project to a global audience. This innovative long-term care potion emphasizes cultural change for residents and staff. Green Houses are part of a broadening movement to humanize care for elderly people with smaller, more domestic settings and a closer sense of community among residents and staff members.

Miller traveled to Kyoto, Japan as part of an exchange program hosted by the United States-Japan Training Institute in Care for the Elderly and sponsored by The Center for Global Partnerships, Japan Foundation. The trip gave Americans an opportunity to observe clinics and in-home comprehensive care centers in four unique environments: Irahara Clinic, Kajiwara Clinic of Tokyo, In-home Comprehensive Care Center Moto-Asakusa and Life Care System Suido-bashi Higashi-guchi Clinic.

Japan has pioneered elderly care with a model called "culture change homes" with person-centered efforts from elder choice in meals and a physical environment that includes home-like touches to a way of operating called the "Household or Neighborhood Model." To achieve this, a nursing home is broken down into "households" of nine seniors who share a family style living room, dinning room and kitchen. Residents make their own decisions about every aspect of their lives. Caregivers are permanently assigned to a household so that consistent care and relationships can form between staff and elders.

"Here in the United States, LCRC advances the social model in our nursing centers by offering private rooms at many of our communities, activities like the new Nintendo Wii Games including "virtual" bowling and much more." says Miller, LCRC's Vice President of Marketing. "Though most LCRC residents reside in their own independent living apartment home it is important that they know these kinds of options are available to them. In America we are reinventing the traditional model of nursing home. It is my hope that this will herald a new age for old age by addressing the fears of being institutionalized; to creating a kinder, gentler model that enhances senior living."

"Currently Japan, with the wider availability of LTC insurance, has a more robust system in place than we do in the U.S." Miller notes. "The relationship between the frontline staff and the residents is exceptional. There appeared an ease that is often unseen in United States nursing homes. The Mitsubishi Group Home mirrored what our profession is trying to achieve by creating a social environment for frail older adults with private rooms, home cooked meals, high staff to resident ration and the ability to remain in the home up until their death. Our industry in the U.S. can learn from the advances in Japan and implement 'best practices' in our nursing homes."

Green Houses bring a culture change in the nursing care industry. People 85 and older are the fastest-growing segment of the population and will continue to be so over the next 30 years, the Census Bureau predicts. As the nation ages, nursing homes are aging, too. Some 16,080 nursing homes house 1.6 million people and many of the homes are outdated. Proponents for change say the "deinstitutionalized" Green House model might help the industry compete with popular alternatives such as assisted living and home health care.

"This exchange gives us an open forum to continue seeking what we can do to ensure an aging person's quality of life every day. The vision of the creator of Green Houses, Dr. William H. Thomas, is how to provide the best possible elderhood by continuing to explore ways to create person-centered homes," says Miller. In addition to better of quality of life for Green Houses residents, overall staff satisfaction, particularly the shahbazim (aides) is excellent and turn-over has decreased dramatically. In a typical nursing home the turn-over can be 70% but in the Green Houses we are experiencing 10%."

About Green House®
The Green House is a total rethinking of the architecture, organization, staffing and philosophy of care normally associated with nursing homes. It is a self-contained dwelling for seven to ten people designed to look like a private home or apartment in the surrounding community. Each person who lives in a Green House has his/her own bedroom and full bathroom. Each home has a central hearth with an adjacent open kitchen and dining area and short halls, all with access to the hearth. A common eating area and living room area allow residents can share meals together. The people who work and live in a Green House collaborate to create a daily routine that meets individual needs, much as they did in their own homes. If they wish, people who live there can cook meals, prepare snacks and help with light housekeeping and laundry. There is no institutional routine allowing residents to be more independent.

About LCRC
Life Care Retirement Communities (LCRC), headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, is a nationally recognized, non-profit leader providing Life Care services for over 4,000 seniors residing in 11 communities. LCRC's mission is to create and sustain communities celebrating the lives of seniors. To explore with us the limitless possibilities of senior life, log on at http://www.lcrc.net

For more information:
Kay J. Miller
515.288.5805, ext. 29

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