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The Cottages at Rockmart in Polk County will soon open as the first-of- its-kind facility in north Georgia to feature a new nursing home design and model of care.

The owner-operator Andrew Morris of Reliable Health Care Management said he studied the “household model and culture change” for over seven years. While it’s not part of the trademarked Green House Project, the design is similar in that residents of the 116-bed facility will be divided into eight households, each containing private rooms with their own bathrooms for each resident. Instead of elderly patients going to a centralized dining room on a set schedule they will have the freedom to get up at their own pace and eat in the kitchen in their home.

No longer confined to a room, residents can easily interact in the dining and living areas of their own cottage. Families won’t have to go through a check-in process when they visit; they will simply ring the doorbell.

Morris visited cottage-style facilities in Wisconsin, New York and the Carolinas and there he found “residents who seem to be happier, have a greater will to live and a greater amount of participation in their care. They get things done for them on their schedule instead of the staff’s schedule.”

Morris currently operates Cedar Springs Health and Rehab whose 62 residents will soon move into the new homes, leaving another 54 rooms for new residents. Cedar Springs will be closed and sold.

Experts in the aging field note that small nursing homes may gain traction as operators of older nursing homes confront the need to upgrade their facilities. At a certain point it can be easier to rebuild than to renovate.


Related story: The Greenhouse Project: Reimagining Nursing Homes


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