Less than a year after breaking ground on one of the largest construction projects in the Rochester, N.Y., area, the team at Jewish Senior Life has made tremendous progress toward making our campus transformation a reality. The street view of our campus looks vastly different than it did before, but it’s not just the physical structures that are changing.

Three modern three-story buildings with a total of nine small homes are taking shape, and we’re renovating the Jewish Home of Rochester to create a true home environment for individuals who need 24-hour skilled nursing, but who also want to continue living their lives with as much choice, autonomy, and dignity as possible.

We’re building these new homes following the nationally accredited Green House Project model of senior living, and once complete, Jewish Senior Life will be one of the largest Green House Project communities in the United States.

When thinking about how we would move forward with our goal of redefining home and revolutionizing long-term care on our campus, we considered several alternative approaches to senior living. We selected the Green House Project as our model since its mission and ideals aligned well with our values of working to ensure that our residents and families thrive in an atmosphere of respect, compassion, and individuality.

We considered the following elements when planning our new model of care:

Environment—We knew we wanted the physical living environment of long-term care to look and feel like a real, residential home, rather than what many think of when picturing a traditional nursing home. No more long hallways, nurses’ stations, and regimented dining schedules. We are building three modern three-story buildings for a total of nine homes, where each person will have their own bedroom and bathroom, a shared kitchen, community room, three-season porch, and access to a beautiful outdoor garden space. In addition to building nine small homes, we are renovating the Jewish Home of Rochester’s legacy long-term care building to include many of the same qualities as the Green House model. Our goal with these living environments is to create a place where people feel at home and are able to enjoy as much choice and autonomy as possible.

Philosophy—At Jewish Senior Life, we strive to ensure our community’s older adults lead meaningful lives with choice and dignity. It made sense for us to implement the Green House Project’s model, because everything from the design of the homes to the staffing structure revolves around bringing more power to the elders and their caregivers. That creates an even better quality of life for residents and greater job satisfaction for our staff. With a continued focus on person-centered care, our campus will advance as a place where meaningful life takes place and relationships flourish.

People—The Green House Project model flattens the hierarchy of staffing in traditional nursing homes, so Certified Nursing Assistants are cross-trained and developed into a “universal worker” role. These universal workers operate in self-managed work teams and are responsible for personal care, dining, housekeeping, and laundry. At the Jewish Home of Rochester, we’ll be calling these workers “Adir,” which is Hebrew for majestic or strong and reflects their noble role. Decentralization of work and self-managed work teams, complete with all supplies, equipment, and resources located in each of the individual campus homes, allows for the breakdown of departmental silos found in traditional nursing homes.

The Green House Project at Jewish Senior Life in Rochester is a combined effort of committed board members, dedicated staff, and generous donors. The project is expected to be complete by March 2019.

Mike King is president and CEO of Jewish Senior Life in Rochester, N.Y. He can be reached at mking@jewishseniorlife.org.