Nursing Home for LGBT under development in New England

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The Elsie Frank House, named after Congressman Frank’s late mother, should be completed by 2009

Barry Berman, executive director of the Chelsea Jewish Nursing Home Foundation, is working to provide a new model for the care of LGBT elders that could end the days when LGBT people who enter nursing homes feel pressured to go back into the closet. Berman and the foundation are currently engaged in a capital campaign for the construction of the Leonard P. Florence Center for Living, a nursing facility slated for construction on Chelsea’s Admiral’s Hill consisting of 10 “houses,” semi-autonomous residential centers that will provide specialized care to different types of elder populations. One of those houses, the Elsie Frank House, will focus on addressing the needs of LGBT elders.

The Florence Center is designed to be a “Green House,” a model for elder care facilities designed by the Texas non-profit Eden Alternative that emphasizes smaller, social, homey settings for elders rather than large hospital-like nursing homes. Berman said the idea behind a Green House is to break from the institutional feel of a nursing home and create a space that works to meet the needs of residents as individuals. He said at most mainstream nursing homes, including the Chelsea Jewish Nursing Home, a 123-bed facility, residents’ daily routines must conform to the institution’s schedule.

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