Bioethics Blogs

The New Green Walls

I have
never worked in a nursing home. As a kid, I participated in mandatory choir
concerts or shortened segments of dance recitals at the local nursing home
where we uncomfortably showcased our talents to an audience of mostly immobile,
but very appreciative older adults. It smelled strange and I was afraid to eat
the sugar cookies and drink the punch, as if they might contain the recipe to becoming
so aged you had to live in this place in front of a TV, when not subjected to random
performances from local children. My own grandparents did stuff like fishing,
swimming, cooking, wood working, and gardening. I expected to be that kind of

As a
discharge planner, I found myself tasked with placing frail patients into
nursing homes. The popular ones (glossy websites and slick pamphlets) were
usually full. When I asked about the reputation of others, a colleague shook
her head and said, ‘green walls and urine.’ Though I grew accustomed to the
task, it seems shameful there have not been more good options for our most
senior adults.

community living model outlined in “The Green House Effect: Homes for the
Elderly to Thrive
” seems to come pretty close to what most
of us would likely want if we could no longer live at home in our advanced age.
The article noted here describes cottages with private rooms and private
bathrooms where there is a far less institutional feel, though care and
supervision is provided. It is simply done differently. For the discharge
planners out there, yes, they do accept Medicaid.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.