Provider to import US-style small-scale elderly care homes

One of the UK's biggest care providers is planning to introduce a US model for replacing "factory-style" care homes for older people with smaller units. US geriatrician Dr Bill Thomas (pictured) visited the UK last week to promote the idea.

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One of the UK’s biggest care providers is planning to introduce a US model for replacing “factory-style” care homes for older people with smaller units that promise better outcomes.

Not-for-profit provider Anchor is looking to adopt the Green House approach, which involves having homes of just seven to 10 residents, where generic staff perform all roles from care and activities to cooking and laundry.

The man behind the concept – US geriatrician Dr Bill Thomas – visited the UK last week to promote the idea.

He told Community Care: “What Anchor is asking is how do you maintain care settings so you get high quality and better efficiency. We would suggest the large factory-style care setting is less efficient.

“We’ve done a financial analysis that this model has the same costs as conventional institutions. It’s cost neutral but provides better outcomes and a higher quality of life. This is what the social service sector really needs.”

A spokesperson for Anchor said: “Anchor is looking to see how to shape its services using something similar to his model. It’s far too early to say in which care homes and how many the Green House idea will be adopted. Anchor thinks this vision of tailoring care to individuals and their needs and focusing on meaningful activity are principles it would want to adopt across all of its services.”

Currently, there are 117 Green Houses across the US with seven to 10 residents per house.

Each home is staffed at any one time by two direct care workers, who perform all tasks in the home, but have time to get to know residents more personally than in larger homes.

In addition, one registered nurse typically supports two or three houses. Residents’ time is not scheduled, while meals are prepared in an open kitchen and staff and residents eat together at a single dining table.

Thomas pointed to a survey that found that residents experience fewer bed sores than those in conventional nursing homes and each day receive 24 minutes more direct care and 90 minutes more nursing staff time than those in traditional nursing homes.

Studies also indicate that staff turnover rate is significantly lower than in large nursing homes. Green House care staff are paid on average about 5% more than those in institutional settings in the US.

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