Over the last few years, the concept of Dementia Villages, Memory Cafes, Dementia specific shopping lanes, etc. has been growing, and worse, the villages are currently being lauded as ‘best practice’, in spite of there being NO evidence for them. Just like the Dementia Friendly Community or Dementia Friends initiatives, they were developed by people without dementia, with no consideration of human rights, disability rights, segregation or inclusion in their development.
I’m not saying they have not been positive, in terms of raising awareness, and the village concept may be better than the small locked dementia units, but what I feel we need to do, is more seriously question if they are the right way forward. I also wonder, is it actually kind, or helpful to segregate and label us in this way?
As I am often the Devil’s Advocate, let’s see how well we would react to the following… Replace the signs on the shopping centre image below, then imagine each shop as a ‘village’.
Please ask yourself, how you would feel about this type of segregation and the labelling of our conditions? Oh, and where would we live, if we had co morbidities, as most people from the age of 65 already live with three?
Surely we must ask ourselves, are the Dementia Villages, or Dementia specific Cafes and Shopping Lanes really a fabulous idea, or are they just another form of keeping the myths alive and ensuring continued sense of ‘otherness’, as well as being an expensive new form of segregation? We must also ask ourselves if these initiatives might also be increasing the stigma and discrimination, or at least keeping them alive?