'Green House' program focus of recent workshop


Ninety-five percent of the elderly say they would rather die than go to a nursing home. Nursing homes have been described as a halfway house between society and the cemetery.

However, last month retired Oakland County Circuit Judge Fred Mester and Susan Voydanoff of the Oakland County Coalition on Elder Care along with Andrea Gerring and Alicia Dunaske, elder care advocates from the Traverse City area, learned about a radical paradigm shift alternative called the Green House Project. The workshop was presented by the Green House Director of Operations, Debbie
Wiegand, at the Thome Rivertown PACE Green House. The Thome Rivertown is owned by the Presbyterian Villages of Michigan. In attendance, representing the Presbyterian Villages of Michigan, were President and CEO Roger L. Myers and its Senior Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer Lynn Alexander.

The first Green Houses opened in Tupelo, Miss. in 2003 and currently there are 288 Green House homes in 32 states. This project was created by Dr. William Thomas and has “the three core values of real home, meaningful life and empowered staff,” according to Judge Mester. These core values emphasize a relationship rich, home-like environment, run by the direct caregivers and supported by the clinical staff. This replaces the old nursing home model, which is designed for institutional efficiency with very little variation, and is task centered and framed after hospitals.

The Green House Project also has a nationally recognized dementia care approach called “The Best Life,” which focuses on the “retained abilities of elders as opposed to identifying the elders by what they have lost,” said Mester.

“Give the elders dignity so that we can maintain our dignity,” Mester said.

For more information, visit the Green House Project website at thegreenhouseproject.org.