De Hogeweyk, a Dedicated Village in the Netherlands for Dementia Patients
People with dementia often face challenges in living normal lives, even with the support of caregivers. To address this issue, a team of experienced professional caregivers in the Netherlands developed the groundbreaking concept of creating a small residential community from scratch, known as the “Dementia Village” or “De Hogeweyk.” The aim is to provide a safe and positive living environment for patients with severe dementia. So, what’s life inside this Dutch dementia village? How does the team manage to provide a safe environment for the patients? Let us take a look.
The World’s First Dementia Village Opened its Doors to Patients in 2009
While the innovative dementia village in Weesp, the Netherlands, started welcoming patients in 2009, the seeds of its creation were planted much earlier. In the early 1990s, Yvonne van Amerongen, the care manager at a traditional nursing home, Hogewey, was struck with a new vision to provide care for those suffering from severe dementia.
Van Amerongen brought years of experience in psychiatric hospitals and rehabilitation centers to her role. By 1992, she and her colleagues were seeking new ways that would significantly improve the quality of life for dementia patients. The idea was to build a neighborhood-style community to meet residents’ needs better.
In 1993, this pioneering concept became the foundation for developing what is now known as De Hogeweyk today. Van Amerongen worked closely with dedicated care staff, including major players who are currently the advisors at De Hogeweyk, Jannette Spiering, and Eloy van Hal.
The team collaborated with architects Molenaar Bol and Van Dillon (MBVDA) Architects and received approval for their project in 2002. The innovative village has since received international acclaim for establishing a more humane approach focused on dignity, independence, and community for people with memory loss.
With 27 Houses, the Village Can Accommodate 188 Residents With Severe Dementia!
De Hogeweyk is a one-of-a-kind, low-rise structure that spans 130 by 95 meters of land. There is just one route in and one way out of the neighborhood. The single entryway is manned and secured 24 hours a day because patients tend to wander off and get lost, like any other dementia patients. Now, coming to the outside environment, the main pathway connects to various outdoor spaces, including gardens, parks, and two plazas.
The architects have meticulously established the village with various plants, trees, and pavements. Such diversity is essential for dementia patients because it makes them feel like they are in a familiar and comfortable environment. Currently, De Hogeweyk can provide dementia care for 188 patients, with six to seven residents in each home. There are 27 houses in this dementia village, each with a unique appearance and design.
The unique design of each house reflects the facility’s distinct vision of care. According to the lifestyle and other factors of the group of residents in every house, you can find different furnishings, daily routines, and so on. Also, the entire village features paintings and sculptures by artists from Weesp, adding to the warmth it offers.
The Dutch Dementia Village Provides all Amenities Necessary for Residents to Enjoy a Safe and Normal Lifestyle
If you enter this Dutch dementia village, it looks like any other neighborhood. The patients are seen wandering peacefully without any restrictions, just like regular people.
Everybody comes from a different lifestyle. Keeping this in mind, to make sure the patients feel as comfortable as possible, De Hogeweyk provides seven different lifestyle options, including formal, cosmopolitan, urban, traditional, and so on.
You can also find a devoted group of community members helping the locals with their routine, including cooking, cleaning, and shopping. This way, even though the residents have dementia, they can still feel like they are leading an everyday life. This approach, known as “salutogenesis” (understanding what causes people to be healthy, emphasizing factors that enhance human well-being instead of factors that cause an illness), aims to minimize the negative impacts of dementia and focus on the good aspects of the patients’ well-being. It all comes down to instilling a feeling of familiarity in their lives.
The residents participate in a wide range of activities, such as going to concerts, dining out, and visiting beauty parlors. Along with creating a sense of normalcy, the goal is to place an exceptional value on safety. So, all the employees are qualified and trained to help residents in difficult situations. As trailblazers in creating this remarkable care facility, the team has set a shining example in dementia care.
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