Greenhouses: A Growing Trend in Long-term Care

When it comes to deciding how to spend one’s later years, institutional care is nobody’s first choice. However, there are times when family and professional home healthcare are just not enough. Beginning in 2003, a new concept has been sweeping across the country – The Greenhouse Project. These alternative living concepts are unique and offer the greatest possible autonomy for older adults who wish to age in place in a comfortable, home-like environment, while still maintaining high levels of skilled nursing care.

How are Greenhouses different?

Unlike traditional nursing homes, which can hardly be described as “homes,” these dynamic group homes allow groups of seniors to reside together in actual homes that are adapted to provide the required levels of care. In these homes, medical devices are inconspicuously hidden in cozy, discrete cabinets and whiteboards. Residents have separate rooms and share a common area and open kitchen concepts. At times, small pets are allowed. Employees are encouraged to participate in the house’s activities and some even reside with the residents.

Where are Greenhouses?

As of 2011, there were 100 of these homes located throughout America, and there are currently four in New York alone, including one in New York City, one in Cohoes, and two in Rochester. As the movement grows into its second decade, The Greenhouse Project continues to open new homes and offer unique services to seniors. There are even five of these homes dedicated to veterans, located in Illinois, Wisconsin and Alabama.

What do Greenhouses cost?

It seems these homes do cost slightly more than traditional nursing homes; however, according to The Greenhouse Project, Medicaid is accepted, just like any other skilled nursing facility. So, provided one can work with an experienced elder law attorney to protect retirement assets and assure Medicaid eligibility, these homes may be a real option for many older adults.

Are Greenhouses really better than nursing homes?

This is a question only the resident can answer; however, according to The Greenhouse Project’s research studies, resident approval is 97%, bed sore incidents are greatly reduced, and there are roughly 50% less hospitalizations. The Project also touts evidence-based research showing that nearly 60% of residents and their families are willing to pay more for these Greenhouses. Therefore, it is likely at least worth considering whether these types of homes could be a viable alternative for a loved one who needs long-term care greater than what family can provide. Many times, an elder law attorney can assist with early planning to ensure Medicaid eligibility, which can make these homes a reality.

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