Philanthropy challenges nursing homes to improve facilities

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation says it wants to shutter America's nursing homes in order to save them. The foundation has already started to fund the construction of Green Houses, small environmentally friendly homes that house 10 to 12 seniors currently living in large, more conventional nursing facilities. The philanthropy, spurred in 2003 by a grant proposal presented by Dr. Bill Thomas, will build these new alternatives to conventional nursing homes in all 50 states. So far, RWJF grantees have erected 41 houses in 10 states. Although a modest number of seniors have moved out of their old nursing homes, if the foundation has its way, all 16,000 of the nation's conventional senior facilities will be replaced. The American Health Care Association, a lobby that represents the $122 billion nursing home industry, believes the foundations criticism of conventional nursing homes is overly harsh and claims that providers are making an effort to improve their facilities. RWJF has delegated management of the Green House projects to NCB Capital Impact, a Washington, D.C.-based not-for-profit that has been offering help in consulting, education, architecture and other areas, to organizations interested in establishing and operating the new homes. 

For more information:
- read the full Wall Street Journal story