Better care for veterans

In recognition of National Nursing Home Week, May 11-17, 2014, we at VA Illiana Health Care Systems celebrate the person-centered care movement that is transforming the delivery of care in long term and post-acute skilled nursing care centers around the country. In the spirit of compassion, kindness, harmony in caring, and respect for those living and working in skilled nursing centers, we bring to your attention The Green House Project.

The Green House model is rooted in a philosophy of person-directed, relationship-based care. Based on the three core values of Real home, Meaningful Life, and Empowered Staff, the Green House model is now operating in 32 states. Individual houses, designed for 10-12 elders, foster the same feeling and experience you get from living in a real home. The comfort of private rooms, each with its own private bathroom, is combined with the family-like atmosphere of open common spaces.

The model embraces elderhood as an opportunity for continued growth and development and seeks to create the opportunity for elders to experience continued meaning in their lives, while maintaining the autonomy and choice they would experience in their own homes. The innovative organizational structure in the Green House model is based upon the conviction that we need a new framework around which to organize the experience of those who protect, sustain, and nurture our elders. Cross-training of certified nursing assistants as universal workers creates an opportunity for the maximum resources to be placed closest to the elders. A highly skilled team of clinicians provide the necessary support and services for the elders to maintain their highest level of function, without centering their lives around medical treatment.

The Green House model has been shown to deliver significant improvement in care and in elder, family and staff satisfaction. As the nation approaches the impending “age wave”, the Green House model and small home nursing homes are the future of elder care.

The first Green House home in the VA System opened in Danville at VA Illiana in December 2011. Two Green House homes, Freedom and Liberty, opened at that time, and two more homes, Valor and Honor, are currently under construction. Each Green House home at VA Illiana provides private rooms and bathrooms for 10 Veterans through a partnership with our VA Network in Ann Arbor, Mich., and our VA Central Office in Washington, D.C. Plans include an additional two homes and a community center at VA Illiana.

In 2012, VA Illiana received national recognition for their planning and implementation of the Green House model through a federal award by the Under Secretary of Health for Innovation in Long Term Care.

National Nursing Home Week is the perfect opportunity to celebrate long-term and post-acute skilled nursing care centers and the people who care for our elders and veterans nationwide. We join in that celebration as we bring the exciting new Green House model of care to VA Illiana in Danville.


Ann Wagle, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, Gerontological Nurse–BC, is administrator/guide, for The Green House Homes at VA Illiana Health Care System, Danville.

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