As soon as Otterbein recognized the greatness of this transformational concept, they brought it to Ohio to liberate elders and those who serve them.

Like Otterbein itself, the inspiration behind the design of Otterbein’s Skilled Nursing & Rehab Neighborhoods came from a doctor with a vision.

Dr. William H. Thomas, geriatrician, believed elders deserved personalized care, privacy and control – all sorely lacking from traditional nursing homes. Dr. Thomas led a movement to completely rethink the institution and redesign it from scratch.

In 2005, he received a $10 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to create what he called the Green House Project. The first of his designs was built in Tupelo, Mississippi. The concept has since become known as the “small house” model. That’s because it is home to a small number of residents and bears no resemblance to a hospital.

Rosalie A. Kane, PhD, conducted studies of the care provided in these small homes versus the large traditional nursing home facilities.

Her findings? Small home residents are more satisfied and scored higher on quality of life domains. Their families remain more engaged. Staff is more knowledgeable about residents, more likely to believe they can alter outcomes, receive more job satisfaction and tend to stay on the job longer.

Elders and staff focus on living full and vibrant lives

The philosophy of small houses fits perfectly with the ethos of Otterbein Senior Lifestyle Choices. It recognizes the dignity and worth of elder persons. Otterbein Skilled Nursing & Rehab Neighborhoods have been designed accordingly. In 2007, thanks to a gift from Otterbein North Shore resident Jane Baker, Otterbein built its first prototype.

Nine neighborhoods later, Otterbein hopes to continue this wonderful, transformational movement. It makes such a difference. Autonomy, holistic support, life enjoyment – in a place that inspires connection and affection – are the pillars of the Spirit of Otterbein.