The Way Forward
Imagine that you have been diagnosed with dementia. You’re in the early stages and have the opportunity to choose how you will be cared for in the future.
Here is a very innovative project called Hogewey, a village that has been highly successful in Holland, similar projects are now being built in America, Germany and Switzerland.
What if your choices were an institutional nursing home setting or a gated community where you can share an apartment with friends and have the freedom to go shopping whenever you please? Which would you pick? Learn more about an international senior care community revolutionizing dementia care through dementia villages.
An Unconventional Village
In the municipality of Weesp, not far from Amsterdam, sits the village of Hogewey. At first glance, it looks like any other village complete with shops, restaurants and even a movie theatre. There are apartments surrounding a lovely courtyard complete with rippling ponds, trickling fountains, vibrant seasonal flowers and benches perfect for enjoying a sunny afternoon.
This village, however, is quite unique.
Hogewey is home to 152 men and women living with severe dementia. The community has 23 residential units, each shared by 6-8 residents. Around-the-clock care is provided by 240 “villagers” who are actually trained geriatric nurses and caregivers dressed in street clothes. The staff takes care of everything from cooking meals and planning activities to assisting with bathing, personal care and administering medications. Even the individuals staffing the various village “businesses” are trained in dementia care, to help those with the dementia go about their day.
The Coexistence of Freedom and Security
To ensure resident’s safety, Hogewey is a secure place, but it also allows residents to roam around and explore as much as they wish within its confines. Residents are even encouraged to help with cooking and other household tasks including shopping in the village grocery store. If they get lost or confused, there is always a “villager” nearby to provide assistance.
Reminiscence therapy paired with the freedom allows residents to reduce or completely quell frustration agitation/many behavioural issues. Still not a believer? Well, consider this, the natural decrease in frustration/agitation/behavioural issues results in a reduced need for high-powered drugs(the soft kosh) and other medicines.
This model also helps residents remain active and gives them a sense of purpose – something that has been absent in a traditional nursing home environment.
Living a “Normal” Life Dementia Care: What in the World is a Dementia Village?
Some critics disagree with the idea of creating this environment, arguing that residents are being misled. However, proponents of the dementia village see it as being the most compassionate type of dementia care offered anywhere.
Many experts agree the homelike setting at Hogewey allows residents to live as normal a life as possible, eating dinner family style, visiting with friends, stopping by the barbershop, or going for a walk whenever they wish.
The Future of Dementia Care?
Germany and Switzerland and the US have studied Hogewey and will probably be the next countries to follow suit, creating their own dementia care villages. In the United States, it is estimated (a low estimation) that unless there is a major medical breakthrough, there could be as many as 16 million cases of some form of dementia there by the year 2050, the actual numbers could be an awful lot higher than this.
As you can imagine, cost is one of the greatest barriers to making self-contained villages like Hogewey the standard in dementia care. The cost to build the community was slightly over approx £18 million, approx £15 million of which was funded by the Dutch government. Residents pay approximately £2,250 monthly, and there is a perpetual waiting list, so many more are needed for an ever growing population, in Holland, America, Switzerland, the UK and throughout the world.
As the need for dementia care grows the UK should be investing in this kind of care for people living with dementia, their families friends and carers. As a dementia charity we Action For Dementia want to raise money and support for such forward thinking, caring, compassionate and intelligently thoughtout projects such as this. Creating safe communities/villages like this will save money and create jobs in the future.