Tuesday 19 September 2017

Going Dutch: the Dementia Village model

Opening this year: The CareBright centre in Limerick will have 18 homes
Opening this year: The CareBright centre in Limerick will have 18 homes

Catherine O'Mahony

As more research is carried out into the needs of those whose dementia requires them to have residential care as they grow older, the idea of a village-like atmosphere for those with this condition is taking hold.

In the Netherlands, a small village called Hogewey on the outskirts of Amsterdam has been home since 2009 to a cutting-edge elderly-care facility where residents are given the chance to live almost normal, and highly social, lives.

There are houses designed to look like typical houses from different eras, the 1950s, 1960s or 1970s. There are even different "lifestyle models" available to residents depending on their background: urban, Goois (upper class), homey, Christian, artisan, Indonesian and cultural.

There are now 152 residents in this so-called Dementia Village, which is largely state-funded and has its own town square, theatre, garden, and post office. It's been reported that residents at Hogewey require fewer medications, eat better, live longer, and appear more joyful than those in standard elderly-care facilities.

Residents live in groups of six or seven to a house, with one or two caretakers.

No currency is exchanged within the confines of the village but the residents can still "shop".

Naturally this is expensive for families (as is all residential care) but the facility is heavily subsidised by the state, depending on family income.

The model is inspiring similar set-ups in other countries, including one here.

In Limerick, work is ongoing on Ireland's first purpose-built dementia community developed around a similar model. The small development will have 18 homes, each with a private garden. On the four-acre site, the plan is to include a café, beauty salon, gym, men's sheds and gardens.

This is a ground-breaking development for Ireland, where people with dementia are generally looked after at home or in traditional residential care homes. The CareBright Community centre is hoping to open later this year. Donations are being sought of pianos, sideboards, coffee tables, Grandfather clocks and paintings / artwork reminiscent of the 50s and 60s.

The project also needs funding to complete the build. Anyone interested can seek out CareBright's Go Fund Me page or donate via Waddellmedia.com

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