If you’re looking at care options for dementia, you may be asking, ‘what is a dementia village?’
The dementia village model allows for residents to receive comprehensive support yet are encouraged to live as normally as possible.
Individuals live within a safe, gated community that caters exactly to the needs of older people, who are also living with dementia.
Let's take a closer look at what is a dementia village so you can understand if this is an option for your loved one.
Here’s a summary of what we’ll cover:
- A dementia village is a purpose built community for older people who have dementia and need care.
- The design of the village helps its residents to live as normally as possible, as they did before being diagnosed.
- Care is always on hand, but the carers also encourage residents to enjoy their freedom and make their own choices.
- Dementia villages aren’t a mainstream care option, and more evidence is needed to show benefits in comparison to care homes.
What is a dementia village?
A dementia village is a space where elderly people with dementia live and receive care.
They are a relatively new concept, and there are only a handful in the UK at the time of writing this article.
The dementia village model stems from an inspiring development in the Netherlands which has prompted the creation of similar sites.
Though this innovative approach has shown positive benefits for residents, it is yet to become the go to method for dementia care.
Why is it needed?
In 2021 there were around one million people with dementia in the UK alone, a figure that is set to increase.
This is because people are living longer, and more elderly people have a higher risk of dementia.
The current state of care is unlikely to be able to cope with the increased need for dementia care.
So as more people need dementia care, a more comprehensive, perhaps collective form of care will be needed to cope.
Where did the dementia village model come from?
The idea of the dementia village comes from Hogeweyk, a pioneering Dutch care facility that is taking a new approach to care.
It is a gated village for elderly people with dementia to live, receive care and go about their normal lives.
The village is built to look like a normal neighbourhood with regular facilities such as restaurants, shops and communal spaces.
Residents are housed in small group flats, with a private en-suite room containing their own things, plus communal areas.
A radical model
Dementia care traditionally takes place in settings that have been highly adapted to suit the needs of people receiving care.
This could include standardised modern furniture and adaptations that can make people feel like they’re in a clinical setting.
These clinical spaces are, of course, beneficial and necessary in the care of older people with health and care needs.
Yet they can sometimes overshadow the needs of residents to feel at home and comfortable in a residential space.
How is it different from other forms of dementia care?
Unlike care in a care home or in someone’s own home, a dementia village offers care across multiple locations and contexts.
Instead of being confined to a particular building, residents of the dementia village can use the entirety of the village.
Exactly as they would do, and have done, in a regular village or neighbourhood, before dementia was diagnosed.
Residents can navigate streets of the village as they make their way to appointments at the various amenities on offer.
What are the features of a dementia village?
The scale and features of a dementia village are more comparable to an assisted living or retirement village than a care home.
Here are some of the key features of a dementia village that help residents to live as normally as possible.
And encourage independence, choice and control on a daily basis to improve their quality of life.
Onsite care team
A multidisciplinary team of caregivers are present on the site at all times to provide care.
This team could consist of different health care professionals and non-clinical workers to support residents with their everyday care needs.
Even the people that work in the shops or other on-site facilities are specially trained in supporting the residents.
Unlike in the outside world, where people with dementia may not have their needs recognised or supported in everyday situations.
Small scale, shared accommodation
Though it can differ between villages, residents generally live in small groups that mimic a family home set up.
Each person has their own private space, including a bedroom, bathroom and perhaps even a lounge.
But there are also communal areas within the house or flat where people can socialise.
As residents need dementia care, carers and nurses are on hand 24/7 to provide routine and emergency care.
Dementia villages are designed around a network of streets, walkways, and neighbourhoods, reminiscent of life outside the village.
Gardens and central squares can act as meeting places, event spaces and even navigation points.
The design encourages mingling and socialising outside of the household bubble, keeping residents engaged with each other and the community.
On-site facilities give residents access to all the amenities they need to go about their daily lives.
Whether that’s going to the hairdresser, buying groceries, or eating out, residents can enjoy these dementia-friendly spaces and services.
Residents can also attend a variety of events and activities or get involved with daily projects or clubs.
Should my loved one with dementia go into a care home?
When someone is diagnosed with dementia, they may need a little or a lot of care, depending on their symptoms.
However, if it’s not possible to stay living at home and receive care, the alternative is moving to a care home.
Some care homes are dementia specific or have a dementia wing or EMI unit where those with the condition live.
Our society is potentially on path for a care crisis, and a solution is needed to ensure people get the care they need.
This is due to the increasing demand for dementia care, compared with low care home availability, high prices and low number of care workers.
Some individuals are having to go with care homes that they don’t like or are far away from home.
This is simply because they can’t afford anything else, which can cause issues later down the line.
Is a care home a good place for someone with dementia?
Care homes are fantastically organised with brilliant staff, full event calendars, quality care, healthy food and more.
Yet, moving to a care home can be upsetting for people who dislike the idea or don’t understand why it’s happening.
For some, moving into one can feel like a deprivation of their liberty and loss of personality and preference.
This unhappiness or stress can, sometimes, catalyse the progress of their dementia, increasing the severity of their symptoms and potentially shortening their life.
Clinical care environment
Unfortunately, some residential and nursing dementia care can feel clinical, both for residents and their family members who visit.
This can be due to separating those with dementia from aspects of normal life and confining them to the unit.
The care and carers in these places are professional, thorough, person-centred and compassionate, there’s no doubt about it.
However, in comparison with the innovative dementia village, this traditional care model may not be beneficial for some people.
Can dementia villages offer a solution?
Dementia villages are helping people with the condition maintain the quality of life they had before their diagnosis.
This model gives residents the autonomy to move freely, make decisions, organise their schedule and more.
All in a way that encourages safety, comfort and confidence without confining them to a single safe space.
Here are some benefits of a dementia village to consider.
Encouraging controlled risk
People with dementia can potentially find themselves in situations where their safety is compromised.
Whether due to wandering and getting lost, being vulnerable to financial abuse or forgetting about a pan on the hob.
However, completely limiting what a person with dementia can do or where they can go can pose its own risks.
Not having control or choice in their life can lead to adverse health risks, both mental and physical.
Maintaining control and choice
One way that dementia villages support their residents to live well with dementia is to give them choice.
The main difference between a dementia village and care home, is that residents have more places to go in a bigger area.
From visiting friends, shopping in the supermarket or having a coffee in the cafe, residents make their own daily choices.
And hopefully feel a greater sense of control and confidence in their abilities as a result.
How to find a dementia village for your loved one
At the moment, there aren’t that many dementia villages in the UK to choose from.
However, this is sure to increase, and hopefully dementia villages will become an accessible, popular care option.
For more advice on dementia care, check out our other articles such as
Find dementia care now
If your loved one has been diagnosed with dementia, it’s a good time to start thinking about the care they need.
Search for care with Sweet Pea and get matched with trusted local care providers who are ready to help.
Whether mum needs personal care in the morning or dad needs help at night, find a care provider that takes the stress out of care.
Just click below.