Karen Boland, Denise Carlson and Megan Swartz of VA Illiana Health Care System
On the final day of the fourth annual Green House Project Meeting and Celebration in Birmingham, Ala., participants explored the “sacred truths” at the core of the model and compiled a rich trove of suggestions during a session called “Principles and Practices of The Green House Model.”
Green House Project director Robert Jenkens provided a brief overview of how the model operates today. He singled out the Green House Project’s requirement for a single dining room table as one of the model’s main “core practices” outlined by founder Dr. Bill Thomas. The practice gives every elder “a place at the table,” which contributes to their overall well-being.
Session attendees were then asked to refine the 10 key principles at the core of both The Green House Project and Dr. Thomas’ Eden Alternative philosophy, which include: autonomy and control; A real home; Family involvement; Community integration; Meaningful days, Optimal health and wellness; A habilitative environment; Ability to age in-place; Wise leadership; and Empowered staff.
Each table made up of Green House Guides, Shahbazim and other staff was given one principle and collaborated to define the top three practices that exemplify it.
For example, to achieve the principle “meaningful days” one table of participants suggested learning what each elder’s individual preferences are, receiving clear and instructional training on what the principle means and promoting elders’ choices.
The input on each core principle was recorded and handed over to the Green House Project staff to be documented and disseminated by the Peer Network, which works to facilitate the success of the Green House model.
The perspective of those who work day-to-day in a Green House setting, especially the frontline universal workers, or Shahbazim, is invaluable for ensuring that the model continues to thrive and
adheres to its core mission, said Peer Network director Dan Klein.
— By Joseph Popiolkowski, special to the Green House Project Blog