The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

October 18, 2013

VA living centers win care award

Staff Report
The Commercial-News

---- — DANVILLE — The Veterans Affairs Illiana Health Care System has won an award for transforming the culture of the community living center (nursing home) through a new model of care.

The facility received the Under Secretary for Health’s Award for Innovation in VA Community Living Centers (CLC). This award was given for excellence in its use of the new model of care called the “Green House” project.

“Congratulations to the VA Illiana Health Care team on being recognized for the great work they do. The award further validates the outstanding work you do for the veterans of central Illinois and west central Indiana,” said Paul Bockelman, Veterans Integrated Service Network 11 director.

The Green House model of care provides a full range of personal care and clinical services expected in high quality nursing homes. At the same time, this model gives priority to the resident’s quality of life, providing an atmosphere of security, privacy, dignity and companionship in a real home setting.

Illiana was the first in the VA and the first in the state of Illinois to bring this new and innovative approach to skilled nursing care to veterans. Two homes (Freedom and Liberty) opened in December 2011 and January 2012, on the grounds at the Danville VA. There are 10 veterans in each home and they each have a private living space with a private bathroom. These veteran rooms are situated around a hearth area with an open kitchen and dining room.

The Green House model is a de-institutionalization effort that, in effect, restores individuals to a home environment. The veterans are free from the limitations of an institutional schedule and live a comfortable daily life — sleeping, eating and engaging in enrichment opportunities as they choose. Meals are prepared in the kitchen and served at a large, single dining table where veterans, families and friends can enjoy a pleasant dining experience.

“It is a credit to our staff at VA Illiana to be the leader within VA in initiating this new culture transformation for our veterans to enjoy,” said Kim Kelley, chief of geriatrics and extended care at Illiana.

The Green House model brings home back into the CLC veterans’ lives. The team worked with veterans and their family members to design the homes.

“Congratulations to VA Illiana for taking the first bold steps in fully transforming the culture of nursing home care in VA,” said Christa Hojlo, PhD, RN, acting chief consultant, geriatrics and extended care services at VA central office in Washington, D.C.

Hojlo said, “From the architecture/construction of the small home to truly person-centered care, this model espouses the VA vision of “I Care” in every aspect. Taking the steps to be the first is evidence of courage, commitment and compassion for those served. No longer will they accept the ways of nursing home care as most know it now. They stepped outside the norm and recognized there can be another way; they created a new way; they paved a new path.”

Illiana continues to share its work in culture transformation efforts with other VA facilities around the country, and also will begin to build two more homes this fall.