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Dementia Villages

My thanks go to Dan, who, after reading my last post about Communities for Life, sent me the link to a video about a dementia village in the Netherlands called Hogeweyk. While it seems common practice in many countries to try to keep people living with dementia at home as long as possible, there may come a time when they require 24/7 care. Current models of nursing homes are more institutional than home-like, and few people aspire to live in one, but a community has been created where people can continue to live their lives as usual, helping them to live happier, longer lives.

Hogeweyk is a gated community which allows its approximately 150+ residents with dementia to move about with freedom and safety as they go about their daily activities. They can shop at the supermarket, visit the library, eat in a restaurant, get a haircut, and attend the theatre. Residents also assist with tasks inside their homes like cooking and cleaning, and choose their own routines and schedules. Because residents are more active, they require less medication.

While comparisons are made to the village in the movie The Truman Show, Hogeweyk is a real village. It’s just that everyone who works there, receives special training for working with people with dementia. There are over 200 employees, including medical professionals, caregivers, and staff that work in the various shops. Resident’s costs are comparable to other more conventional nursing homes in the Netherlands.

I found it curious that in the comments for some of the articles I read about Hogeweyk, some people felt this community was “tricking” the residents. Even if that were true, how is living in the common institutional model better for them? Thankfully, there were many comments praising the concept. Although occasionally a resident isn’t a good fit for this community, I believe most residents living with severe dementia would be happier at Hogeweyk than they would be in an institution.

Patients are people, too!
The current standard design for nursing homes for people requiring 24/7 care is more focused on the needs of the people providing the care rather than the residents. These Dementia Villages show that we can design more humane communities and still staff them with people who can provide them with the appropriate level of care.

Some links for more information . . .

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