Sometimes it all just comes together. Actually it never just comes together. But the confluence of hard work, contrarianism, and vision that is the Green House Project is a thing of beauty on each and every level. The folks at Green House have remade the stagnant and stagnating nursing home model into a positive celebration of life. And followed through with great naming and branding to boot. From their website:
The Green House is designed to be a home for eight to ten elders. It blends architecturally with neighboring homes, includes vibrant outdoor space, and utilizes aesthetically appealing interior features. The first Green House were designed by Richard McCarty, the McCarty Company, in Tupelo Mississippi. Richard and Dr. Thomas collaborated to create an environment that would be a home to the elders. The result was a house where each elder has a private living space with a private bathroom. Elder’s rooms receive high levels of sunlight and are situated around the hearth, an open kitchen and dining area. While adhering to all codes required by licensure, Green Houses looks and feels like a home, and contain few medical signposts…
…The Shahbaz or elder assistant is the direct care provider who prepares the meals and maintains the household in the Green House. Shahbazim are certified nursing assistants who have advanced training. They work as a self managed work team to complete assignments, scheduling and all of the work in the household. They are coached by a guide, usually the administrator and advised by a sage, who is a community dwelling volunteer elder. There is a clinical support team available to the elders and the Shahbazim. The clinical team visits the house to provide skilled nursing and therapy.
The word Green House is nicely repurposed to reflect the idea of individual houses rather than the long-corridored, anonymous, institutional model. And of course a greenhouse is a protected, nurturing, life-affirming environment.
Let’s also note that the residents are participants in Green House Project, not residents of something called Green House. Calling it Green House Project helps reinforce the idea of mind-share ownership for the residents, and the term “Project” conveys an ongoing quest, a sense of continual experimentation. Nicely done.
The term “Shahbaz” is in place to signal that this is an entirely new model, free from the constraints of the pervasive system. “Shahbaz” demonstrates rather than explains that break and as any Shahbaz will attest, is a self-propelled conversation starter.
“Shahbaz” is a Persian term for “royal falcon”, and is the name of a helpful bird in a short story written by Green House founder Dr. Thomas. The word’s definition is random in this application, but its quality of mystery is what makes it well chosen to define a new concept and to prompt people to constantly ask, “What’s a Shahbaz?”
Getting the public interested enough to lean forward and ask questions, enabling you to engage them in a conversation, is always a big win.
One more thing they got right is the collateral surrounding the Green House identity, where, thank goodness, you won’t find the color green.