Eco-Friendly Elder Care: Revolutionizing Senior Living with Green Houses



Green House homes are a popular alternative to traditional nursing homes, providing a smaller, more community-based living experience for elder residents, along with greater resident input and autonomy. These homes, present in 35 states and Australia, have demonstrated higher satisfaction among residents and families, lower staff turnover, improved clinical outcomes, and better survival rates during the first two years of COVID-19. While majority of Green House residents pay out of pocket, some expenses are covered by Medicare and Medicaid, and the model has been shown to reduce overall Medicare costs.

Alternative Long-Term Care Option: Green Houses

Many older adults dread traditional nursing homes, prompting the need for alternative care options. 24/7 home care can be challenging and costly at over $24,000 monthly. The Green House model offers a different approach, providing a residential home-like setting with elderly-centered care.

Benefits of Green Houses

Introduced in 2003, Green Houses have improved the long-term care sector. They boast higher resident satisfaction, lower staff turnover, better clinical outcomes, and lower mortality rates during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an AARP Public Policy Institute report.

With nearly 400 Green Homes across 35 states and Australia, residents enjoy more freedom in their daily routines, including meals and activities, and a sense of community in communal living spaces. The model can be standalone or part of a traditional long-term care institution.

Green Houses: Financial Considerations

Most Green House residents pay out-of-pocket, although Medicare is accepted in short-term cases, and Medicaid covers up to 45% of residents. According to a 2016 study, Green Houses may reduce overall Medicare costs and hospital readmissions.

Among currently operating Green Houses, the AARP reports:

  • 87% are licensed skilled nursing facilities.
  • 37% are located in rural areas and 63% in urban areas.
  • 82% operate on a not-for-profit basis, while 18% are for-profit.

Expanding the Green Houses Model

Experts like Charles Sabatino, former American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging director, see a need for more such facilities and alternative long-term care options. Advocacy includes increased state and federal spending, improved reimbursement incentives for quality homes, and rethinking long-term care policies. AARP also proposes a public-private investment approach and regulatory barrier removal to encourage more innovative long-term services and supports.

Investigative reporters may explore how their state encourages a shift from traditional nursing home care, or compare Green Houses with larger facilities in terms of occupancy, cost, staff turnover, and quality.

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