New Style of Retirement Community Coming to Knox County

By  | 

Knox County (WVLT) - "Happy hearts yield healthy minds," that's the philosophy behind a new era of long- term healthcare across America.

Greenhouse Communities are a growing alternative to nursing homes.

In the nation, there are twenty-four.

And the first in Tennessee is coming soon, right here to Knox County.

Hillcrest Healthcare has their project approved, but they're still looking for land and funding.

Volunteer TV's Whitney Daniel explains how Greenhouse Community Care can work for you and your loved ones.

"It's gonna be wonderful because it's smaller. It's more like home, it feels like home," says Marie Alcorn, an aging services specialist.

There's no place like home, that's why long-term car specialists are working toward a new model of health care, one that puts patients in control.

"They decide when they get up, they decide when they eat and what they eat," says Sonya Lay, Vice President of Development for Hillcrest Healthcare.

It's called the "Greenhouse Project," rebuilding nursing homes into ten-bedroom houses.

"The primary change is to create an environment of knowing between the elders as well as the staff," says Robert Jenkens, Vice President of Community Solutions.

The ratio is two caregivers to every ten patients, helping elders and staff live a more enjoyable life.

"In a large institution, people find it very difficult to form those bonds and without those bonds, they find that their lives begin to become very narrow, they start to lose meaning," Jenkens says.

Hillcrest Healthcare will create the first greenhouse community in Tennessee, but the first was built three years ago in Tupelo, Mississippi. Patients there statistically show less signs of depression and more independence.

"If I were to design long-term care that would be right for our elders, the place I would want to go, the place I would want to put my parents, it's would be a greenhouse," says Lay.

The Greenhouse Project will have the same nursing home regulations and costs, the difference comes in the philosophy, environment and organization.

"The smiles, the liveliness, the playfulness... When you walk into a nursing home, you just don't see that," Jenkens says.

The pilot Greenhouse Community in Mississippi is funded 80-percent through Medicaid and 20-percent privately.

Developers hope the same will apply here in Tennessee.