New age senior living gives residents freedom of choice in smaller communities

Special Reports

Nursing homes comprised of small communities with highly skilled staff are growing in popularity across the country.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, five percent of seniors will end up in a nursing home at one time or another. Many will live out their days there.

But that doesn’t have to be bad news.

Nursing homes are changing and are truly becoming a home away from home.

“There is no place like home, but if you have to leave home, this is the place to be,” Agnes Reed said.

Reed, 84, lives with 12 other elders. Each has their own room and bathroom at the Eddy Village Green in Cohoes. They enjoy meals together or they can eat alone.

Whatever they want; however they want it; whenever they want.

It is called the Greenhouse Model, and it was created by Sherburne, N.Y., doctor Bill Thomas, who thought there had to be a better way than institutionalizing the elderly.

“They need a place where they could make their own decisions, where places were smaller, where it would feel more like home, and where staff had advanced training,” Nancy Hooks with National LeadingAge said.

“This obviously had a lot of benefits for its residents,” Jim Clyne, of LeadingAge New York, said. “More privacy, more choice, more control over your daily living. And that’s what a lot of facilities are moving to. Whether they are the Greenhouse Model or not.”

LeadingAge is a trusted voice for the aging in America. They see the Greenhouse Model as the future of skilled nursing care: small communities complete with walking paths, gazebos, and front porches for each home.

Mary Jen Miccio had to move into a different nursing home last winter when her husband Ralph was injured and could no longer care for her at their home.

“Two to a room, 60 people in a wing; very institutional, equipment is not the same,” Ralph said. “The noise is different. The smells are different. Everything is different.”

They hated it, and as soon as a room opened up at Eddy Village Green, Mary Jen moved in. It was a huge relief for Ralph.

“I’m sure Mary Jen would like to be somewhere else; home for example,” he said. “But if she has no alternative, this is the greatest place to be. It’s a good place.”

Good, not just because Mary Jen has choices, but the staff, known as Shabbaz, know her well – like family.

“The same staff are here every day, and it really feels like a family when you come into one of these homes,” Eddy Village Green Exec. Dir. Laurie Mante said. “The same elders and the same staff every day creating life together.”

It’s a life filled with independence in a place that feels like home.

The idea is quickly spreading. There are 200 Greenhouse Model homes in 30 states. Many others are modeled on the same idea known as small houses.

Any senior who needed skilled nursing care can live there, and it is covered by Medicare and Medicaid.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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