A Dementia Village Model Emerges

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A small town in the Netherlands has developed a very unique approach to care for people with dementia. In 2009, private developers collaborated with the Dutch government to build a small village solely for residents with advanced dementia.

The village is called Hogewey. Built on 4 acres of land, the village consists of 23 houses, a supermarket, café, pub, beauty salon and a small theater. There are 152 residents in the village who are supported by 240 caregivers. The caregivers do not wear uniforms and look as though they too are residents of the village. The village draws on volunteer help as well as professional caregivers to support the residents of the town.

The 23 houses have different lifestyle themes, such as urban, crafts, culture, and religion. The color schemes, furniture, and interior design all reflect the theme of a given house. The idea is to place residents in the setting that most closely resembles what they’ve known all their lives.

Residents are free to move throughout the village and to continue with their normal rhythms of daily life. They may shop at the supermarket, eat at the café, or take a walk through the town square. The village runs 25 different clubs to appeal to the interests and remaining skills of its citizens. Although it appears on the surface to be like any other small village, it is distinguished by the fact that there are no locks on any doors. In addition, there is only one entrance into the village and the residents do not have access to the entry point.

Hogeweys  and White Oak Cottages have much in common. Both try to create a home setting  and the ability to maintain the normal rhythms of daily life. Both have a philosophy of care based on respect for the residents and a desire to make each day a good day.

The cost of care at Hogewey is reportedly no higher than the cost of providing care in a traditional nursing home in the Netherlands. However, since the Dutch have a socialized system of medicine, it is unclear whether this model could be easily replicated in the United States.  The staffing model calls for two staff members for every resident; it is hard to imagine that many Americans could afford this type of care. However, as all countries try to develop more community-based options to treat those with Alzheimer’s, the village of Hogewey is an exciting new approach.

You can get a fuller report on the Hogewey’s approach by clicking on the following YouTube video prepared by CNN.  If you don’t want to watch the entire video, go to minute 1:16 for an overview, 5:04 to see the different house themes, and 14:30 for a discussion of activities.

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