Survivor: Old age

He said it comes down to changing three things, "philosophy, architecture and organizational structure."

Green Houses are located on elder care campuses, but also have been placed within communities. The traditional nursing home model rotates staff, whereas Green House staffs have permanent assignments that are self-managed. The caregivers and the residents know each other. It's a collaborative model with "person centered care."

Jenkins said they are creating environments that are flexible because the mistake in the old model of care was trying to make an operation that was "one size fits all."

"Very careful to not make that mistake again," he said.

It is estimated the Green House structure creates four times more meaningful engagement, at no additional cost. The key is about 120 extra hours of staff training.

It was also reported that employees have more job satisfaction because of less stress, increased communication and also responsibility toward decision making. This results in higher job retention rates.

A Green House caregiver is called a Shahbaz (Persian for the King's Falcon). The final panelist, Emma Williams, was a Shahbaz from Redfield, Michigan. Her Green House is Garfield House.

"They aren't residents, they are elders," Williams said. "We mix it up, that's what makes the house work, sharing the duties together."

For example, one lady almost always answers the phone; elders help out in the kitchen; and watch out for each other, too.

Loretto plans to build 13 Green House residences in Cicero that will provide skilled nursing care to 12 residents each.

More input from Redfield

Loretto hired Lisa Maxwell (also a panelist) as its administrator for its transitioning care. She took an Elder Care Facility in Redfield, Michigan through a similar process as Loretto is embarking on.

"We had to do something different to get different results," she said. "We chose to change our culture. It was challenging, but the rewards were phenomenal."

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