A Look Inside Hogeweyk, the Dutch Village for People Living with Dementia
What do you know about Hogeweyk? Chances are you may have heard Hogeweyk mentioned as an alternative model of dementia care, as the award-winning ‘dementia village’ grabbed the headlines even before its completion in 2009.
Today we’re taking a little look at how things are set up at Hogeweyk, which is part of the Hogewey care centre and takes its name from the Dutch name for ‘group of houses’. Located just 20km outside Amsterdam, it was originally the idea of two enterprising care home nurses who wanted to explore options that would allow people with dementia to live out their days more fully than in the care homes they worked in. So, how does the Hogeweyk dementia village work?
A social approach to dementia care
Residents at Hogeweyk have their own bedrooms and live alongside around six or seven other residents, including a carer. They share a kitchen, living room and dining room, and the doors of the houses are not locked.
Instead, the houses are arranged in a way that means that residents cannot wander outside of the village. There is a supermarket, hairdressers, restaurant and even a theatre, and twin bikes are available for residents and carers to use to cycle around if they wish.
Over 25 on-site clubs offering everything from baking, books and bingo through to classical music mean residents who are living with dementia enjoy both mental and physical stimulation, keeping them as social and active as possible. The wider community is also welcome to use the restaurant or to book out the theatre, and this in turn helps to generate additional income for the village.
The home was in the main paid for by the government along with some private sponsorship, and care fees are paid by a mixture of finance from national healthcare contributions and means-assessed fees that top these up for wealthier residents.
A familiar lifestyle
At Hogeweyk, reminiscence therapy is taken to the next level. Residents are placed within groups according to how they have previously lived their lives.
They live in homes alongside those who have enjoyed similar lifestyles – so tradespeople live with others who have done jobs like theirs, those who were formerly farmers or labourers live together, and residents who have lived an upper class lifestyle are grouped within the same homes.
The accommodation is decorated accordingly in a manner the residents will find familiar, and they prepare and enjoy the type of foods they are used to eating. For wealthier residents, this may mean more ‘fine dining’ meals than comfort foods. Where many of the residents think of their carers as friendly neighbours or friends, there are others who are used to having servants or ‘staff’ and may therefore recognise their dementia carers as fitting within this type of role.
A friendly truth
The focus at Hogeweyk is on providing as normal a life as possible for residents, who still carry out normal tasks like gardening or doing the laundry, or having their hair done for a trip to the theatre.
However, some have described the village as a ‘false reality’, but while carers don’t correct residents if they get muddled about whether they are visiting or live there, they don’t tell untruths. Asked a direct question by a resident about why they are there and who they are, carers will explain that they are living in the village because they are ill and need care.
The model of Hogeweyk dementia village has proved so popular that similar villages have popped up as far afield as Canada, and Hogeweyk are working on a similar development in Italy.
What do you think of the Howgeweyk care village model? Are there any elements that are similar to the care you offer, or that you could adopt? Would you like to see this model of approach to dementia care being trialled in the UK? We’d love to hear your thoughts, so leave us a comment below.