- Older adults naturally possess the one skill so many of us deeply desire: the ability to slow down.
Yet we routinely displace our fellow citizens and loved ones from their homes and move them into institutions because we fear their slowness of mind and body poses a risk to their health and well-being.
It’s an understandable reaction but imagine if we reframed our core beliefs about aging; that it’s not about loss and retreat, but rather it’s about gaining a deeper appreciation for life when we travel through it at a slower speed.
I can tell you from experience, it changes everything.
In Spring 2022 I visited The Hogeweyk community in The Netherlands. It is the world’s first ‘Dementia Village’, an inclusive, person-centred community that provides high-quality care for people living with advanced dementia.
Hogeweyk, or Dementia Village as it was named by CNN, looks nothing like the institutions we are accustomed to in North America:
- Staff wears street clothes, not uniforms.
- Residents live in households of 6-7 residents, not long hallways.
- They visit the local market for food. They pop into the village salon and barbershop for a cut and style
- They gather at the local pub and restaurant to catch up with friends and family.
- They go to the theatre – complete with red velvet curtains – for films and live shows.
- They walk freely through gardens, down village streets and sit on benches around the water fountain in the village square.
They do all of this while living with dementia because the point of The Hogeweyk isn’t to focus on the disease but on the person living with it.
CNN’s World’s Untold Stories: Dementia Village
Resident autonomy and self-identity trump institutional efficiency. Life is normal.
Sitting in the village square I watched people going about their business and I marvelled at the ease with which life flowed. At times, I had a difficult time distinguishing residents, staff and visitors, a sign of how much thought went into designing a model of care that reflects the feeling of community and belonging that is central to our sense of well-being, regardless of age.
It is why I am so excited to introduce Canadians to the Dementia Village model along with its co-founders Jannette Spiering (‘The Innovator’) and Eloy van Hal (‘The Disruptor’).
We’re co-hosting a cross-Canada tour, visiting Halifax, Ottawa, Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver to provide participants with a step-by-step guide to how The Hogeweyk works, the evidence-based Be Advice Paradigm that underpins Jannette and Eloy’s ongoing innovations, and how Canadians can use this to power our own transformation in aging care.
A transformation that centers the individual over the institution, that creates purpose through creating a sense of place, and recognizes change can happen fast when we value people living with dementia for who they are, not what they are contending with.
Join me, Jannette and Eloy at the Humanizing Dementia Care Canadian Tour Register here.