Nursing homes can be intimidating places.

 The traditional model for these facilities is institutional, with facility designs and procedures based on mass efficiency instead of individual concern for the well-being of each resident. At the Elder Law Office of David Wingate  we appreciate that this "regimented" lifestyle is feared by many local residents who likely have personal stories of friends or family members who lived unhappily in one of these facilities. Some seniors even “put off” estate planning and asset protection strategies, because thinking about these issues is unpleasant and many would prefer to just avoid the issue altogether.

Of course, failure to plan for long-term care issues actually has the opposite effect–making it more likely that one will be forced to live in a less than ideal location. In fact, so long as resources are available, there is a growing chance that around-the-clock care can be provided for even the most ailing seniors in locations that reject the old model and prioritize individual care and personal well-being.

A new national movement to improve elder long-term care called The Green House Project is a program originally funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. It seeks to phase out the old nursing home model for one that focuses on more intimate settings. New homes built as part of the project have clusters of seven to ten residents who each have their own room and are given more autonomy. While projects like Green House are growing in popularity, it is undeniable that there is still a long way to go before all nursing home residents have care that places emphasis on their individual quality of life.

In 1987, the federal Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act set new standards which were supposed to emphasize quality of life at these facilities. The bill was well-intentioned, but it has yet to fully translate into better living for nursing home residents across the country. The Green House project seeks to actually make the goals of those federal standards a reality. The project involves building and redesigning homes across the country.

Besides the Green House project, even traditional nursing homes have been working to mimic the principles of these alternative models. The main stumbling block is finances. The costs associated with the individualized care are usually higher than traditional models. That is why it is as imperative as ever for local residents and their families to visit with an elder law attorney to ensure they are as well positioned as possible to make these superior long-term care living situations an option.

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