The Hogeweyk dementia village in Weesp, Netherlands, opened in 2009 as a new model for treating people with dementia. The facility resembles a quaint Dutch village, with a town square, restaurant, and other amenities.

When the Hogeweyk first opened its doors, there were about 35 million people living with dementia around the world, according to Alzheimer’s Disease International, a nonprofit federation of Alzheimer and dementia associations. Today that number is more than 55 million, and the World Health Organisation expects it to reach 78 million by 2030.

Rather than locking down dementia patients, Hogeweyk shows how it is possible to integrate dementia patients with the communities around them, blurring the lines between home and hospital.

Community living is for everyone

Residents at the Hogeweyk, all of whom suffer from severe dementia, roam the village, interacting with other residents and trained staff — nurses, doctors, and physiotherapists — who blend into the community’s daily life.

At the supermarket, for instance, residents can buy grocery items, but no real money is exchanged, and the cashier is trained to care for people with dementia.

Finding a cure for dementia has so far proved elusive, placing the burden of care on families and public health services. But a growing number of facilities around the world — many inspired by Hogeweyk — are paving the way for a model that integrates dementia care with surrounding neighbourhoods.

Hogeweyk-style care comes to Invercargill

Closer to home, developers of the Hawthorndale Care Village in Invercargill have modelled their plans on Hogeweyk. The village, slated for completion in 2025, is designed to allow people to live in small homes built with dementia design principles. Thirteen houses will cater for 6-7 residents per home, providing the full spectrum of rest homes, dementia, and hospital care. Ten additional independent living villas will be available for those who don’t require rest home-level care.

Several operators in Australia are already open for business.

In the town of Bellmere, in Queensland, a company called NewDirection Care has established what it says is the world’s first “micro town” dementia community. Residents live in what resemble typical single-story homes — there are 17 in four different styles, with seven residents per home. The town centre includes a corner store, cafes, a salon, and a cinema.

Another ‘dementia village’ in Tasmania is set to open this year. Funded by super fund HESTA’s Social Impact Investment Trust in partnership with Not-For-Profit Glenview, the village is now taking expressions of interest for potential residents and recruiting staff including ‘lifestyle companions’ to support residents in the village’s small house setting.

Just as climate change is influencing where and how we live, chronic disease and aging will change the dynamics of the real estate sector. Contact Goodwins for an educated opinion on changing trends in real estate. Call 0800 GOODWINS.