Perhaps it is a great idea, but surely, labelling where we live, shop or eat and have coffee by our disease or condition, is simply another form of keeping the myths alive, as well as ensuring a continued sense of ‘otherness’.
It is definitely another form of segregation.
And yet, the emergence of Dementia Villages, or Dementia specific Cafes’ and Shopping Lanes has been taking off in the last few years.
One can only imagine the (justifiable) outrage if we replaced the names of the stores in a shopping centre with diseases or specific groups of people, such as Indigenous, and make them exclusive to those groups.
Therefore, I wonder, are these new ‘villages’ being built around the world for people with dementia to live in, are simply another very expensive band-aid for a broken system, and a system where staff who are not adequately educated in dementia are still allowed to ‘care’ for us?
In an article, The Dutch Village Where Everyone Has Dementia, they start by saying ‘The town of Hogeway, outside Amsterdam, is a Truman Show-style nursing home.’ Often I am asked to provide an opinion for an article or blog being written by someone about dementia villages, and so far, I have refused to give a firm opinion on them, other than to say, ‘I’m not sure, as I have never visited one personally.
Further into the article, the cost to set up this village is quoted:
Hogewey was primarily funded by the Dutch government and cost slightly more than $25 million to build.
So, if you’ve been reading my blogs for a while now, you might have guessed that I’ve now formed an opinion on them, although I do admit, still without visiting any of them!
Frankly, I do believe it is simply another form of segregation; probably still with poorly trained care staff (awareness of dementia is not adequate), with more impressive ‘dressings’ or ‘mayonnaise’? Interestingly, a couple of weeks, I whilst attending a zoom meeting with some Japanese friends, two of whom ar diagnosed with dementia, they agreed with me.
Imagine if the Dutch government (or if my government!!) had invested $25 million into improving the education of all health care professionals (HCP’s) in dementia? Perhaps then, we wouldn’t need to find a more palatable way to segregate people with dementia. Currently, my government is intending to spend $101 million on ‘Secure Dementia Care Units, whilst it has not committed to adequately educating the staff who work there.
The one thing really missing in the whole dementia space is adequate education of Health Care Professionals (HCP’s), including medical and nursing staff, and yet, we continue to participate in surveys and submissions, or receive requests to become advisors to an emerging new business or dementia village, without thinking about the bigger picture, or fixing the problem at the source.
Many with dementia, and now even some people without dementia are lobbying for the phasing out of secure dementia units and institutional care, as we know from experience, it almost certainly results in worse care. Orphanages proved that years ago!
My latest article co-authored with a colleague and friend Dr Shibley Rahman, titled Assets-based approaches and dementia-friendly communities may be of interest on this topic…