A special ‘neighbourhood’ for people with dementia

De Hogeweyk, known in English as “The Neighbourhood,” is a nursing home in the Netherlands that specializes in care for people with dementia. Unlike other care facilities, De Hogeweyk is a four-acre secure site where 150 residents can walk around the grounds safely so they can live their lives as normally as possible.

Providence Health Care is looking to build a “neighbourhood” of its own at the new St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, with the promise of a more hopeful kind of care for those suffering from the disorder.

The goal of the neighbourhood is to reduce stress and anxiety by helping residents feel at home. Staff have been able to reduce the use of medication and potentially violent conflicts.

Founder of De Hogeweyk, Eloy van Hal, spoke at a B.C. care providers event in Vancouver about how he came up with the concept five years ago.

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WATCH: Dementia ‘neighbourhood’ an option for a normal life

“Twenty years ago we were a traditional nursing home and then we said to each other ‘is this what we want when we are old?’,” said van Hal.

He explains there is big demand for new ideas on how to care for people with dementia.

“If you talk about a normal life, what’s important? That you live in an environment you recognize inside but also that you can go outside,” added van Hal. “If you are inside and you see it’s nice weather outside and you cannot go outside because there’s a locked door, that’s confusing. It causes stress, aggression maybe.”

In B.C. alone there are 70,000 people living with dementia, the majority have Alzheimer’s disease. That number is expected to grow by 50 per cent in the next decade.

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The new St. Paul’s Hospital will be three times the size of the current hospital on Burrard St. and will include a new “neighbourhood” to help those battling with dementia.

Construction is expected to start in spring 2017.

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