The prime mover behind this innovative concept is co-founder and former nurse Yvonne van Amerongen. I had emailed her earlier requesting permission to visit the facility with Marianne Abbink Lankhorst, my Dutch friend. She wrote back to say we were both welcomed to visit anytime. Excellent! Visit
We were given a map showing the layout of the place, and several information sheets about Hogewey. We had the freedom to move around and explore but were reminded to respect the privacy of the residents. In other words, no peering into their living quarters or taking their photos without their permission. But we were welcome to use the information and images provided on the Vivium website.
|One of the many courtyards surrounded by residents' homes on the ground floor and upper floor.|
|As we had no access to the homes, this composite image is taken from internet sources. It gives you an idea of the different lifestyle settings. Residents are housed in groups according to the lifestyle they are familiar with.|
Hogewey is the world's first village built specifically for people in the advanced stage of dementia. The concept for it is based on the belief that dementia patients can still enjoy a relatively normal life if they live together with like-minded people in an environment that is familiar to them.
|Residents share a common dining room and living room (Images: Daily Mail)|
There are currently 152 residents at Hogewey, with six to seven housed in each of the 23 homes. grouped into seven distinct lifestyle settings: urban, homely, cultural, traditional, Gooi (well-to-do), Indonesian and Christian. Residents have their own bedrooms but share a common living room, dining room and kitchen. Each home has one or two staff to look after the residents and do the cooking.
|Another view of the homes.|
The staff at Hogewey outnumber the residents 4:1. You will see them as housekeepers, shop assistants and minders, but you won't find them in staff uniform. Volunteers are identified by a nondescript badge they wear. Hogewey takes great pains to avoid any resemblance to a hospital or a nursing home. Instead, it strives to make Hogewey as close as possible to a small gated neighbourhood complete with its own supermarket, cafe, restaurant, beauty salon and theatre. There is a large central square and smaller ones or courtyards with benches and chairs where residents can sit and soak in the sunshine, weather permitting.
(When we were there, there was intermittent rain. That explains why you don't see any residents outdoors in the photos.)
Join me as I take you on an 'external' tour of Hogewey.
|The main boulevard, with shops flanking both sides.|
|The cafe is the first outlet you see on your left as you walk along the boulevard.|
|This is probably where the residents go to work their muscles and limbs.|
|There's even a repair shop in case anything needs fixing.|
|Inside the beauty salon. We didn't get to enter so this image is taken from the Daily Mail.|
|This is The Passage - a spacious hall where the residents gather to enjoy group activities. There is always music playing in the background as the elderly love music from the old days. Expect to see some of them dancing too. We did.|
|That's Marianne at the door of the Rembrandt Room. This is where the residents enjoy art and craft activities.|
|The supermarket at Hogewey is well-stocked. Every item carries a price tag. The cashier issues a receipt for purchases but no money is paid.|
|The restaurant is open to visitors. That's Yvonne (in blue). Hogewey has a constant stream of visitors from overseas eager to learn more about the dementia village concept.|
|No need to press any button or turn any door knob. Doors open when you step on the floor panel in front of it.|
According to Yvonne van Amerongen in the CNN interview, the concept works. Residents do not need as much medication, they seem happier and are living longer. The Hogewey model has been replicated in Canada, Switzerland and the UK, and that's evidence of its success, aside from the awards it has won since 2010. Apparently those on the waiting list have to wait at least a year before there is a vacancy. That only happens when a resident has passed on. Hogewey is where those with severe dementia come to live their remaining years in peace and with dignity.
|Programme of activities in Dutch, of course.|
The burning question readers might want to ask is: How much are the fees? Around 3800 euros, that's about RM16,000 a month. It's heavily subsidized by the government, otherwise it would cost upwards from 8000 euros per resident a month. Looks like we won't see a Hogewey-style village in Malaysia anytime soon, if ever!