While many other residents of elder-care homes found themselves confined to their rooms by Covid-19, the ones at Jamie’s Place could continue enjoying many of the small pleasures that bolster well-being and bring meaning to daily life.
Jamie’s Place is one of 300 homes across the U.S. that are part of the Green House Project (GHP), an innovative model for residential care. Green House Project homes house small groups of elders in non-institutional spaces staffed by specially trained “universal workers” known as Shahbazim. Though they aren’t new — GHP and other “small house” elder homes have existed since 2003 — they have garnered attention recently for having deftly weathered the pandemic.
From January through June, GHP homes have reported only 32.5 confirmed cases per thousand residents as compared to 146 cases per thousand residents in all certified skilled nursing homes. As GHP senior director Susan Ryan explains, the very scale and design factors that helped Green House homes lower Covid rates also enabled staff to “get far more creative” in reacting to the pandemic.
At the time, my mom was living in Bellingham, Washington, two years into providing unpaid live-in care for her father-in-law (my step-grandfather,...