Final thought about De Hogeweyk, a dementia village outside Amsterdam, is to first go back to one of my major interests in the overall theme of age friendly community design. Full kudos to Dementia Village Architects (DVA); their story is articulated with simplicity and clarity on their website.
One phrase seems to say it all, about how we should look with foresight as we plan elder life care facilities:
“No big anonymous buildings, but instead manageable and pleasant residential areas… connected with family, caregivers and healthcare providers. Where they can enjoy the precious life they are used to and still want to lead.”
Upon reflection, I asked Jill O’Donnell of Iris For Seniors, what surprised, delighted you most about what you saw inside De Hogeweyk and the impact on the surrounding community at large? “It was delightful to see the amount of freedom the residents have in moving around the village. Yes, staff do accompany them at times but many people are just walking about on their own. Should they be unable to find their way back to their “house” a staff member will assist them back.”
Back to their house. House is home, more than just a bed. We may not achieve huge capacity to build more villages like De Hogeweyk, nor may we be able to find a funding model any time soon, to satisfy what we would like to see in elder care communities. But we can think village. Have a certain ring to it? – Canada!