Politico had a great article about the loneliness at institutional nursing homes and how that affected Bill Thomas to make change. Thomas previously pioneered a philosophy that gave nursing home residents more control over their lives. He advocated a more holistic view of caring for older adults. He emphasized individualized nursing care, but also on their housing and their social lives.

Thomas developed nursing homes into small, residential-style pods of private rooms surrounding a shared group living room and kitchen. He wanted residents to have access to the nursing care they needed in as home-like a setting as possible.

These residential-style nursing homes had much lower rates of infection and death than traditional facilities. The smaller pods, and the greater privacy residents enjoyed, helped keep them safer from the virus.

“His new, post-pandemic vision is a system for aging in which seniors can live in small, geriatrician-designed houses meant for aging in place and receive the support they would need from a traditional nursing home, while creating a tight-knit group of neighbors. It’s his next attempt at re-imagining where people age — this time, entirely outside of a facility.”

The vision called “Canopy” starts with a cluster of small ADA-accessible houses built close together. Each would have access to communal greenspace with the intention that residents get to know their neighbors. The residents will have much more autonomy than in a congregate setting. They live in their own homes with access to the outdoors. And the goal is to enable them to tap into a tight web of services — from help eating and bathing, to physical therapy and nursing care.

Roughly eight million seniors are unable to afford expensive assisted and independent living communities but too wealthy to qualify for Medicaid. That number is expected to grow to 14.4 million seniors by 2029.