A patient-centered nursing home movement that’s taken hold in other parts of the country is now making its way to California. It's called the “green house project” and it promotes smaller, home-like facilities of 10 or fewer residents.
This new style of nursing home embraces a kinder, gentler way of assisted care. Modeled after traditional houses, these nursing homes offer their residents a small, family-style setting. They include a living room for residents and staff to socialize, a kitchen for those who wish to cook and a dining room for communal meals. Patients would have their own private rooms with ensuite bathrooms.
"It will create an entirely new option for people who find themselves in need of a nursing home," says Gary Passmore, vice president and director of the Congress of California Seniors. His group is supporting bill by Democratic Senator Elaine Alquist of San Jose that would provide a new licensing category so these non-institutional centers can operate in California.
"The point is to create a more patient-centered home," Passmore says. "By that I mean an individually tailored environment and experience so someone doesn’t feel as if they’re trapped in a long, pale green hallway of an institution."
Passmore says beyond the homey atmosphere, this model is patient-centered and offers residents dignity and more control over their lives. For instance, he says, it would be up to the resident to decide when to wake up and when it’s lights out. They’d have food choices unavailable in today’s nursing homes. And, Passmore says, the same caregivers would be assigned to patients, which offers consistency in care often lacking in institutionalized nursing homes.
"The state of mind of individual in a nursing home is critically important to their chances of getting out or getting better or to just to their own quality of life," says Passmore, who adds that 70 percent of all Californians are expected to require nursing home care at some point in their lives.
Alquist’s bill, SB 1228, passed the State Senate’s health committee and it’s now headed to Senate Appropriations.