Deinstitutionalizing Living and Cost

A group of multi-ethnic seniors, two couples in their 60s and 70s, on a porch, watching something and laughing.  The women are sitting on a wooden swing in the middle, holding hands.

By: Shawn Rader

Looking ahead to the brave new world of Boomer assisted living,  the question arises:  what do Boomers want, and can they pay for it?   One recent article in the New York Times (November 21, 2015) reviews the Green House project in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and the Our Family Home business in Dublin, Ohio.  In the former,  10 elderly people inhabit a single residence often located unmarked in residential neighborhoods.  They give a “my home”  feel to the living arrangements, with a communal kitchen and common room.  While established as an alternative to nursing homes,  its approach to solving the loneliness and detachment of its residents by living arrangement is worth looking at,  as it seems to succeed with higher quality lives and fewer hospital readmissions.

 The Our Family Home is an “adult foster care”  approach to memory care, and uses single family homes adapted for elder care with usually five residents living with two staff members in attendance.  The  cost is about half of the institutional nursing home. 

 It seems that these approaches support the “contemporary”  move towards a less institutional construction and operation of assisted living facilities.  Perhaps existing boxes could be carved up into “neighborhoods,”  or the like.  Staffing is always an issue,  but  circular or wheel construction allows for a more free, circular circulation of staff.   Could assisted living as a concept of care still work if some units were set up for a family member or friend to stay with the resident?  Or nearby?  Would these ideas increase the quality of life for the residents,  thus increasing positive ratings in the marketplace?  Do we need to emphasize more the “living”   aspect of assisted living?    Additional food for thought.

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