Editor’s Note: Thanks to Providence Women for this post on Dr. Thomas’ Newshour appearance:
Did you see the Lehrer News Hour this evening, January 23, with the story about transformative nursing homes? Dr. Bill Thomas, geriatrician and nursing home reformer was interviewed in one of his “Green House” nursing homes in Lincoln, Nebraska.
The twelve-minute story highlights two primary characteristics of the Green House concept – characteristics of all transformative nursing homes. The first, making the nursing home HOME, with all the implications that follow. The residents interviewed testify to that. So do the front line workers in a more indirect but compelling way. From the transcript:
Ebmeier, Nursing Home Administrator, and the shahbazim, (plural for shahbaz, name for traditional certified nurse assistants), tell the story of one former Green House elder, Mary Valentine, who celebrated her 101st birthday in the Green House.
JOYCE EBMEIER, Administrator: One of the shahbazim went to her and said, “Well, Mary, what do you want to do? What shall we do so that you have a great birthday?” And she looked at the shahbaz and she said, “You know, what I really want is a margarita and a cigarette.”
SUSAN DENTZER, Narrator: And that’s what she got, as seen in this picture, taken as she and her daughter celebrated on the Green House’s front porch. When Valentine died soon after that memorable day, the shahbazim were crushed. They told us that was the downside of life in the Green House, saying goodbye.
THOMAS COOPER, Shabaz: The night after she had passed, my dog (note the place of animals in this setting) went into her room, and jumped up on her recliner, and sat where Mary used to sit. That was really emotional for me, and for the whole group of shahbazim, and the whole team.
JOYCE EBMEIER, Administrator: Death gets harder in a Green House because, when you are smaller and when you are engaged in the way that the shahbazim are engaged in the lives of the elders they love so much, it is like losing your dearest family member.
The video shows a hanging plaque which reads: “In memory of Mary Valentine. May her spirit protect, nurture and sustain all who enter here.”
DR. BILL THOMAS: In long-term care, love matters. And the heart of the problem is institutions can’t love.
The story from Lincoln, Nebraska is heartening. There are not enough of these HOMES yet. We MUST liberate our elders from traditional nursing home and bring them HOME.
Click here to watch the streaming video.