Metro Cities: This Dutch nursing home is built like a mini city
University of Alberta design anthropologist Megan Strickfaden researched a village in the Netherlands completely designed around the needs of residents with dementia.
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Communities don’t usually deal with mental diseases by design, but that’s exactly what De Hogeweyk, a 23-townhouse development near Amsterdam, has achieved. The small village was specifically designed for residents with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, and is actually a 1.6-hectare nursing home with only one secure exit. University of Alberta design anthropologist Megan Strickfaden has visited De Hogeweyk for research. Here's what she says makes the village of 152 residents unique.
The village was designed to accommodate people with dementia, with interconnected homes that are close to the street. The street is designed to have a sense of continuity, which can be comforting to those experiencing dementia, while maintaining a typical Dutch feel. The village has a supermarket, restaurant and theatre to serve residents as well as people from neighbouring communities.
A sense of familiarity is important for people with dementia, and the cobblestone streets are “cues and reminders” of a past life, because even if people’s minds can’t remember the streets, their bodies do, Strickfaden said. The gardens are also connected through a series of loops, which allows residents to wander without getting lost.
The multi-unit homes typically have six or seven bedrooms located next to each other, with adjacent bathrooms, which makes it easier for caregivers. The living room, dining room and kitchen is usually combined into one large area to inspire communal living.
Residents of De Hogeweyk can choose from seven different layouts which are meant to reflect their prior life. For example, the ‘cultural’ lifestyle is aimed towards those who are well travelled, with classical music, more colourful dishware and modern decor.
As for the model being used in Canada, Strickfaden said there are aspirations but nothing firmly in the works just yet.