I (Marilyn Cash, HSC) recently had the opportunity to visit De Hogeweyk a nursing home in the Netherlands that provides care to 152 people in the later stages of dementia. Unlike traditional nursing homes, De Hogeweyk is designed as a small self contained village with 23 individual homes, a supermarket, a hair and beauty salon, restaurant, theatre and traditional Dutch ‘brown cafe’. The homes are designed to reflect seven different typical Dutch ‘lifestyles’, identified by Motivaction a social research agency:-
1. Traditional for residents whose identity came from carrying out a traditional profession
2. City for “urbanized” residents whose life had been spent in the centre of the city
3. “Het Gooi” for residents who attach importance to manners, etiquette, and external appearance
4. Cultural: for residents who appreciate art and fine culture
5. Christian: for residents for whom practicing their Christian religion is an important part of daily life
6. Indonesian: a lifestyle for residents with an Indonesian background
7. Homey: for residents who believe that caring for the family and household is important.
De Hogeweyk allows residents to experience life as if they were living in the community but from within a safe and secure environment. Residents are able to take part in everyday activities in their homes supported by a team of staff and volunteers. They are able to walk freely through the streets and gardens which are designed to reflect normal life with street signs, streetlights, benches and squares where people can congregate. Being able to move freely around not only contributes to their health but also gives a feeling of ‘being at home’. The feeling of normality is further supported by the fact that none of the staff wear uniforms. The scheme has been designed to integrate with the local community and the facilities are open to anyone, not just to residents and their families.
A total of 240 staff (equivalent to 170 full-time jobs) work at De Hogeweyk; this includes, nurses, nursing assistants, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, a full-time doctor and a Psychiatrist. They are supported by 120 volunteers, who are mostly retired people living in the local community. Many of the volunteers live alone and appreciate the social interaction that volunteering gives them. Residents are funded through the Dutch national insurance scheme for long-term care
De Hogeweyk has been criticised for being a deception; but I think that most people reading this would prefer this ‘lifestyle’ to that offered by a traditional nursing home.