By Toni Lynn Davis, Executive Director Green Hill Inc.I read an article in the New York Times about a man named Martin Bayne who writes about life inside a long-term care facility. He is only in his 60’s but lives there due to Parkinson’s disease and other chronic disabilities. Mr. Bayne has had the full gamut of experiences in long-term care. He first lived in a traditional facility where he found himself in a multi-patient room, isolated, overmedicated, psychotic and depressed. Today he lives contentedly in a more home-style environment where he has his own bedroom, and a full community of caregivers and friends.
Mr. Bayne keeps himself present in his life, and relevant by writing a blog on baby boomers and aging. His writings on his experiences in long-term care give us a great window into the experience of residents and patients, that we often can’t discern comprehensively from many of our significantly older residents. Mr. Bayne’s shared his vision of the perfect long-care environment in the article and I was pleased to read that he noticed The Green House® Homes project as an example of a program that can provide the kind of environment that creates lives for elders, not merely places for elders to die.
There are significant challenges in our country in elder and long-term care currently as elder numbers are growing exponentially, the places for care limited, the cost of care unmanageable, insurance premiums high, payments for care low, and elder care options that once included aging at home with families a thing of the past. Often affordable medical care is the primary focus for families placing aging elders and considerations for quality of life are secondary, the transition to long-term caring living is rarely considered. At Green Hill attention to the quality of life of our elders is the primary prescription for good health care, followed closely by a first rate medical team and services.
For transitioning to elder care Green Hill offers what we fondly call the ‘Test Drive”, a two week program where elders can meet and live with their prospective care givers, make new friends, experience the food and activities, and see if they feel comfortable enough to make Green Hill their new home. The Test Drive gives both the elder and their family’s peace of mind when making such a huge life transition as is long-term care.
When a new elder joins the Green Hill community they are welcomed with an interview where all of their needs, preferences and desires are explored. It could be as simple as how late they like to sleep in, to what food and snacks they prefer, or even what special skills they would like to explore or contribute to the Green Hill community. Green Hill provides activities that give elders goals, intellectual stimulation, draws on their talents and experiences, and involves them in their immediate and larger communities, including men and women’s discussion groups, community volunteer opportunities, an energy conservation program, book discussion, and presentations from experts in their fields. Green Hill also provides fun for elders including trips, clubs, art and crafts, movies, exercise, dancing and celebrations. Green Hill feeds the spiritual soul with worship and holiday activities for every faith. We also recognize the intense pleasure provided by delicious, varied, home made meals and snacks provided in restaurant style dining, room service and on the go 24 hours a day. Green Hill elders are encouraged to share their needs, likes and dislikes, desires for new activities, anything they want to make their home and experiences more fulfilling to them at community meetings with staff.
All of this is in addition to The Green House Home program where elders enjoy private rooms with private baths, meals at their own dinning room table with their housemates, and 24/7 care from their own family of caregivers called Shahbazim.
The key to providing our elders with fulfilling, healthy and relevant lives is to treat each elder as an individual, cater to their individual needs and issues, and to provide a stimulating, welcoming and open environment where each elders feels they are an important member of the Green Hill community.
To read Mr. Bayne’s blog log on to www.thevoiceofagingboomers.com.