Very interesting column in the Oregonian's commentarty section this morning. It's by Lenore Skenazy who writes for the New York Daily News.
She writes about William Thomas' book What are Old Poeple For? He proposes an alternative to nursing homes. He calls them Green Houses. Small groups (eight to ten) with a couple of staff. As much as possible the residents do the cooking and cleaning and everyone sits down to meals together. Sort of a do it yourself family. Thomas is running a pilot program in Tupelo Mississipi. The first 13 are up and running. Apparently the costs are comparable to the institution they replaced and the results sound inpressive.
Four of the seven residents who were using wheelchairs when they moved in are up and walking on their own. Eight out of the ten have some level of Alzheimers but are doing better. One lady even makes her cornbread recipe once a week. Each resident has their own room and all the room open on a yard. I suspect that the buildings are built on a courtyard design with the rooms facing inwards.
Thomas is quoted as saying "the first thing we had to do was run out to the store for sunhats." Some of these folks hadn't been out for years.
We do have a lot of Adult foster care in our area but the results sound pretty hit and miss. A close friend of my mom's is on her second try. Apparently the first home was not very clean and it smelled. Also her medications weren't tracked the way they should have been and she is a diabetic. A one size fits all diet plan is not good in this case. What can you expect when the people who are supposedly running the place never come around to check on the help?
I like the idea of what Thomas calls a "convivium." Of course the people running such a network might actually have to pay attention to the people they're collecting money from instead of just looking at the balance sheet.
Now if we could just move this idea to the schools. I was lucky and went to a small high school. I can't imagine going to a school with more students than many small towns. Yes, I know it's more efficient for equipment and staff, but Lord, there must be some alternative to what we've got.
3 days ago