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The Center for Innovation is the new home for three leading brands in eldercare transformation

The Center for Innovation is the new home for three leading brands in eldercare transformation: The Green House Project, Pioneer Network, and EmpowerED. Together, we’re working to make empowering, person-directed services and supports the norm for all older adults – regardless of race, ethnicity, income, savings, sexuality, gender expression, or home ZIP code – not the exception. 

We’re proud to call VTI fellow travelers on this journey, and we hope you’ll take the time to get to know our brands and our work a little bit better:

  • The Green House Project (GHP) works to replace institutional, hospital-style nursing homes with small-scale Green House homes. Each Green House home serves 10 to 12 elders with private bedrooms and bathrooms, ample outdoor space, residential kitchens, and a person-directed care philosophy that puts residents’ needs and wants first. Since the first Green House homes opened in 2003, the network has expanded to include nearly 400 homes in 33 states and Australia.
  • Since 1997, Pioneer Network has been working to infuse person-directed care practices in all types of eldercare settings, from nursing homes to assisted living communities to memory care centers. Pioneer’s grassroots network of state-level culture change coalitions serves as a vital clearinghouse of information, education, and inspiration for providers, residents, family members, and advocates across the United States.
  • Launched in 2023, EmpowerED brings the best of GHP and Pioneer’s principles to caregivers at eldercare organizations everywhere. With an eLearning platform and consulting services, EmpowerED helps providers take steps toward making person-directed living a reality.

Bringing these missions under the single CFI banner is vital at a time when the future of eldercare remains deeply uncertain – and divided along the historic boundaries between various settings such as nursing homes, assisted living, and home health. 

The COVID-19 pandemic brought an unprecedented amount of attention to failing eldercare infrastructure in the United States and around the world. But as the dark days of 2020 and 2021 continue to move farther and farther away in our collective rearview mirror, that attention has failed to generate the kind of systemic change necessary to prevent future disasters in eldercare.

What’s more, the pandemic-era media and political attention tended to focus narrowly on nursing homes, and even more narrowly on the physical design and operational factors that contribute to the spread of infectious disease. But we know that even before COVID, long-term care left much to be desired for elders, often neglecting the non-medical factors that play such a significant role in the wellbeing of people at any age, such as emotional and spiritual fulfillment.

Too often, people living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia have a particularly difficult time receiving services and supports that address their holistic humanity. Many leaders involved in the founding of GHP and Pioneer Network were inspired to improve eldercare after seeing firsthand the ways that institutions rob people living with dementia of their autonomy – whether it was during the bygone days of physical restraints as a “best practice” to combat “wandering,” the continued overuse of psychotropic drugs as “chemical restraints,” or the less extreme but still damaging infantilization and isolation of people simply because their cognitive abilities have changed.

CFI envisions a world where people living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia aren’t subjected to locked wards, segregation within care communities, and marginalization. Across CFI’s brands, we believe that people are people no matter their age or physical and cognitive abilities – and that they deserve to be treated as such. 

Whether it’s at a Green House home, a community that has adopted Pioneer Network’s person-directed care principles, or an organization that uses EmpowerED to train caregivers, elders’ retained abilities sit at the center of day-to-day life. Caregivers are trained to see the whole person, not just their physical or cognitive diagnoses: What were their routines and habits prior to moving into a care community? When do they like to wake up, eat their meals, and go to bed? What activities bring them the most joy, such as reading or painting or singing? What do they need to feel whole?

For people living with dementia, caregivers are encouraged to see common behaviors – such as walking in circles or agitation – not as isolated problems to manage, but rather as expressions of the same human needs and desires that we all have. This philosophy aligns closely with VTI’s goal of improving communication between caregivers and adults living with cognitive changes: Being heard and understood is a fundamental part of being human, and everyone at every age deserves that level of respect.

These principles are universal across settings, cultures, and countries. We can’t build the system we want by focusing solely on nursing home reform, or expanding in-home care options, or beefing up memory care regulations; we must work to create a care landscape where people receive high-quality, dignified care at every point along their aging journey. For some, that might happen entirely at home; for others, it could involve a series of transitions from private homes to independent living communities to nursing homes, or somewhere in between.

No two aging journeys are alike, but with person-directed care philosophies that value elders as people, everyone’s aging journey would be a lot easier. CFI works to make that a reality for everyone, and we’re honored to call VTI our colleagues on this shared mission.

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