The Center for Innovation is proud to work alongside the Validation Training Institute to achieve our mutual goal of creating empowering, supporting, and engaging environments for older adults of all physical and cognitive abilities.
CFI was formed in 2022 through the alliance of two non-profit organizations with intertwined histories and decades of experience in reimagining eldercare settings: The Green House Project and Pioneer Network.
Since 2003, The Green House Project has helped organizations build small-home alternatives to traditional nursing homes. Twenty years after the first Green House homes opened in Tupelo, Miss., there are now nearly 400 homes across more than 80 providers in the U.S. – and soon expanding abroad to Australia. With all private rooms and bathrooms, dedicated outdoor space, residential kitchens, and no more than 12 residents per building, Green House homes redefine long-term care settings by removing institutional beliefs and systems in favor of a real home environment. Similarly, Pioneer Network has been changing the culture of traditional eldercare settings, including nursing homes and assisted living communities, since 1997. By infusing person-centered care practices into day-to-day operations, Pioneer Network has built and sustained empowering communities for elders in even the most institutional of buildings.
Green House and Pioneer both owe their existence in part to the work of Dr. Bill Thomas, a world-renowned geriatrician whose experience working in a traditional nursing home convinced him that we can – and, in fact, must – do better for older adults and people living with disabilities.
Today, under the CFI banner, these organizations work together to bring real systemic change to the entire long-term care landscape, serving as the catalyst for person-directed living and empowered cultures in the community of one’s choice. That means CFI supports expanding multiple types of non-institutional eldercare programs, including Green House homes and home- and community-based services (HCBS) like PACE programs and in-home care. In short, CFI believes that every older person – regardless of income, net worth, race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender expression, or home ZIP code – deserves to receive high-quality eldercare services in the setting of their choice.
The current eldercare system too often prioritizes the convenience and financial success of the operator, instead of focusing on individual elders as humans with all the same needs, wants, and preferences as younger people. Moving forward, CFI will work to achieve its goals through a variety of methods, including:
- Continuing to work with providers to build and sustain thriving, independently operated Green House communities across the U.S. and the world;
- Bringing Pioneer Network’s legacy of culture change to an even wider group of traditional nursing homes, assisted living communities, and other communal eldercare settings;
- Advocating for policy reforms on the state and federal levels, particularly around increased funding and reimbursement for non-institutional eldercare services – while also disincentivizing the continued operation of outdated, inhumane institutions;
- Providing workforce training and education to all types of eldercare providers, with a specific focus on person-directed living and empowering strategies for dementia supports.
CFI supports the work of VTI because it aligns so closely with our own philosophies on person-directed services for people living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. The Validation method correctly recognizes that people – even those with cognitive changes – are not merely sets of symptoms and behaviors to manage, but human beings experiencing a new and often frustrating way of interacting with the world. As with CFI, VTI’s work also acknowledges the challenges that family members and caregivers face when adapting to life after a dementia diagnosis, striving to provide better skills and strategies to loved ones and professional caregivers during this new phase of life.
For instance, CFI’s Best Life approach to memory care services rests on four key principles:
- The Power of Normal: Caregivers should create a culture of normalcy, allowing for individuals to live in the least restrictive environment possible and experience culturally typical activities.
- Focus on Retained Abilities: Care settings should emphasize the activities and interests that people living with dementia retain after a diagnosis, empowering them to maintain real relationships with pets, nature, and people of all ages.
- The Dignity of Risk: For far too long, even well-meaning caregivers have prevented older adults, including those living with dementia, from taking acceptable risks – from the physical restraints of the 1960s and 1970s to the year-long COVID-19 lockdowns of 2020 and 2021. We believe that there is dignity in giving people living with dementia the right to take risks.
- Advocacy: CFI advocates for people living with dementia to have expanded experiences and choices, as well as the right for rehabilitation.
Taken as a whole, CFI is proud to work alongside VTI in the movement to reimagine eldercare for good, both at home and around the world. Come join us both at CFI’s 2023 Ready to Impact Conference, coming to Pittsburgh from July 23-26. Enjoy four days of vital education on the latest research and practice in the field of empowered care for people living with dementia, including a session with VTI’s Naomi Feil and Vicki de Klerk-Rubin, as well as thought-provoking networking opportunities and speakers. The program includes a performance of “A Box of Memories,” a powerful musical about a family coming to terms with a mother’s dementia diagnosis originally performed in Australia. We hope to see you there!
Registration information: https://thegreenhouseproject.org/2023-conference/