HogeweykHogeweyk is a peaceful collection of 23 houses in Weesp, Holland (about 20km from Amsterdam) boasting 152 residents. Villagers enjoy a theatre, a park, a supermarket and all sorts of amenities, but there’s something incredibly special about every employee of these services.

They’re all trained social care workers, specialising in dementia care – and all 152 residents are dementia patients. Each resident is encouraged to live as actively and as independently as possible, with the sometimes confusing and frightened aspects of life outside the village removed.

Residents can shop for their own food without the worry of dealing with money, thanks to the volunteers and care workers secretly managing the till. All doors are open and so entering a home that isn’t your own will have far less traumatising consequences, and losing your bearings isn’t a problem when there are so many carers to keep an eye out.

The residential homes are even decorated in specific styles intended to reflect the way each patient is most used to living. There is a choice of Gooise (Upper Class living), Cultured (with a focus on theatre, art and literature), Indian (with links to Indonesia), Christian (for those dedicated to prayer and the church), Urban (catering to residents used to spending time in the city) and Homely (where daily routines based around caring for a family are welcomed).

The alternative reality that Hogeweyk offers their residents has been shown to improve a person's wellbeing as the symptoms progress – their patients take less medication and lead an altogether more active lifestyle than the average individual with dementia in an ordinary care home.

Here in the UK, some care homes are beginning to take notice. Baylham Care Centre in Suffolk has built a replica high street with a ‘village green feel’ in their outdoor space, with a perfect vintage look. The shop fronts of a sweet shop, a bakers, butchers and even a post office have been installed and decorated convincingly in a 1950s style to help dementia patients living there reminisce about the parts of their past they can remember.

Cornwall Care is also looking to the future of specialist dementia care. They are in the process of building their very own dementia village with ‘care cottages’ grouped around a central building that offers further care.

For more information about Hogeweyk Dementia Village, click here.
Read more about Baylham Care Centre and Cornwall Care