At first glance, the village of Hogeweyk in the Dutch town of Weesp looks like an ordinary place. There are shops and residences, parks and restaurants, and even a theater. There are only 152 people living here, though, and you might notice that all of them are elderly. The younger people here are actually staff–nurses, doctors, and specialists–who work around the clock.
The village is actually a pioneering step in the future of elder and dementia care. Each of the 152 residents are eldery folks living with severe Alzheimer’s and/or dementia, and need nursing home facilities. However, instead of confining them to a depressing room in an institution-like setting, the residents Hogeweyk enjoy complete freedom as well as privacy and autonomy.
Hogeweyk is a specially designed village with 23 houses for 152 dementia-suffering seniors. The elderly all need nursing home facilities and live in houses differentiated by lifestyle. Hogeweyk offers 7 different lifestyles: Goois (upper class), Homey, Urban, Christian, Artisan, Indonesian and Cultural. The residents manage their own households together with a constant team of staff members. Washing, cooking and so on is done every day in all of the houses.
Daily groceries are done in the Hogeweyk supermarket. Hogeweyk offers its dementia-suffering inhabitants maximum privacy and autonomy. The village has streets, squares, gardens and a park where the residents can safely roam free. Just like any other village Hogeweyk offers a selection of facilities, like a restaurant, a bar and a theatre.
The doctors, nurses and carers aim to make the experience as real as possible to the residents. Residents do the necessary shopping at the supermarket and assist with preparing and cooking as they would at home. The carers wear normal daytime clothing rather than clinical clothing, and fit into a role that the dementia suffers are likely to be comfortable with; in the working class households the carers are seen to be neighbours or carers, while in the aristocratic/upper class setting, the nurses act akin to servants. The different living styles have different types of music playing, significantly varied interior design, food and methods of table setting.
Residents within each house have their own large bedroom and then meet with other residents to share the living room, kitchen and dining room. There are no locks on the doors and residents are free to mix and walk or cycle around within the village, including choosing to visit the supermarket or cafe, just as they would in the real world.
According to The Atlantic:
“Residents are cared for by 250 full- and part-time geriatric nurses and specialists, who wander the town and hold a myriad of occupations in the village, like cashiers, grocery-store attendees, and post-office clerks. Finances are often one of the trickier life skills for dementia or Alzheimer’s patients to retain, which is why Hogewey takes it out of the equation; everything is included with the family’s payment plan, and there is no currency exchanged within the confines of the village.” [source]