The rise of the ‘dementia village’

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Dementia villages have become a revolutionary care concept, enabling people with dementia to live longer and happier lives.

The first village opened in Hogeweyk in Holland in 2009. It has 23 houses for 152 seniors with dementia. The residents manage their own households with a constant team of staff members on-hand who are dementia trained professionals.

Household jobs such as washing and cooking are undertaken and there is even a supermarket on-site for them to do their grocery shopping.

The village has streets, squares, gardens and a park where residents can safely roam free. There are also restaurants, bars and a theatre.

Residents of Hogeweyk have been shown to live longer and need less medication than people living in a more traditional care home.

Similar villages have since popped up across Europe and there are plans to open the first in the UK in Kent in 2020. The 15-acre village would have specially designed houses, shops, cinemas, gardens and a village square much like Hogeweyk and would be a safe space for people with dementia to go about their normal lives independently.

Simon Wright, Chief Executive of Kent-based developers Corinthian, said of the dementia village in Hogeweyk: “I was sitting in the coffee shop and after a while I realised I was being served by one of the residents who was volunteering there.

“It’s an incredibly well designed and secure community with green spaces where residents can stay physically mobile and mentally active.”

If the UK dementia village is a success we could see many more popping up across the country and we would especially love to see one in Wales, however they can be pricey and not an option for many people with dementia and their families, so we must continue to ensure our own every day communities are dementia-friendly as possible.