The ‘Granny Pod’ Alternative
The MEDCottage, or so called “Granny Pod,” is being marketed as “family managed health care as an alternative to long-term care facilities.”
The 12 foot by 24 foot portable, modular “medical home,” unveiled this past July, can be purchased or leased and placed on the caregiving family’s property. The homes are equipped with health monitoring equipment and lifts to assist people who have problems with mobility.
Also included are security cameras that sweep up to 12 inches off the floor (foot sweep) in order to observe falls. The cameras can be monitored by computer or mobile device so that caregivers may “interact with them so you are participating in their life.”
The AARP calls it an “innovative idea,” but critics describe the portable homes as “storage containers” and worry about the impact of the mini-dwellings in crowded urban areas, as well as the dignity of senior citizens.
While many surveys suggest that older people would prefer to live independently or with family members rather than in a nursing home, it doesn’t necessarily follow that this 288 square foot space in the backyard is what they had in mind.
Safety features like health monitors and the “foot sweep” may have a place, but communication via computer and mobile device (“the family communication center”) on a regular basis is not the kind of “interacting” and “participating” that most of us would crave on a regular basis, especially if the point of the medical home is to remain with the family.
From a MEDCottage press release:
“The MedCottage model for health care offers a totally new paradigm,” says the Rev. Kenneth Dupin, founder and CEO of N2Care and the innovator behind the MedCottage. “With a daunting reality looming, we must, as a society, consider every option to take pressure off the system. The MedCottage is such a cost-effective alternative – and baby boomers are ready for new options for aging in place.
“With changing family structure and lifestyles over the past century, research demonstrates that end-of-life care is emerging as the most pertinent concern for the baby boomer generation,” Dupin says. “Boomers have a particular fear of being isolated from family and institutionalized in the final stage of life. Consequently, there is a need in the market for an innovative alternative to care for the aging population unlike any current options for end-of-life care.”
NPR reports that the mini mobile home rents for about $2,000 a month.
Virginia’s Governor Bob McDonnell (R) wasted no time in signing HB 1307, “Zoning Provisions for Temporary Family Healthcare Structures,” into law earlier this year, enabling the mobile units to be placed on private property without special use permits.
This CBS News Report takes a look at the medical homes: The Backyard Nursing Home
The Washington Post quotes Fairfax County, Virginia Supervisor Jeff McKay (D) as saying, “Is it a good idea to throw people into a storage container and put them in your back yard? This is the granny pod. What’s next? The college dropout pod?”
The Post also ran a poll asking the question, “Would you purchase a “granny pod” for your aging relatives? Seventy-six percent responded in the affirmative. While many of these families no doubt have the best of intentions, and for some is a decent alternative to institutional care, there is tremendous potential of misuse, abuse, and neglect.
What do you think? Is this a viable health care alternative?
The Post poll inquired whether or not readers would purchase a medical home for their loved ones. Let’s turn that around and find out if Care2 readers would agree to live in one. Please take a moment to answer the poll below and leave a comment on the pros and cons of medical homes.
Image used under Creative Commons License via Flickr with thanks to eflon