BC Dementia Village Offers Safe Autonomy

Caring for people with dementia in a setting that keeps them safe while protecting their dignity is a tall order but innovative care facilities that feel more like home are slowly opening in communities worldwide.  Recently Langley, British Columbia welcomed the first dementia care facility of its kind in Canada resembling a village where patients with dementia can wander safely and feel more at ease.

As recently reported by The Walrus, The Village, home to 45 residents with some type of dementia opened in August 2019.  The community-based care residence allows people with progressing dementia to continue to participate in activities and move more freely within the safe borders of a small village setting.   The familiarity of a town-like atmosphere with small cottages, a community garden, a hair salon and a general store helps residents maintain a degree of independence in a safe, well-staffed and secure environment.

Residents can continue to enjoy a daily walk, gardening, baking, socializing, shopping or getting their hair done within the small staffed “village” where they are safe.  Should a resident become confused or lost, they are redirected and returned home, without causing family panic or agitating other patients. 

Without locked doors or a clinical, unfamiliar setting, residents with dementia are less agitated and as a result, behavioral problems and the need for prescription medication are reduced.  Just as anyone would feel anxious and trapped in a locked ward, people with dementia are no different and yet they may not be able to understand why they are there.   A more homey care setting for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia was spearheaded in the Netherlands and in recent years, similar homes have sprung up in the United States and now in Canada.   Two more facilities using the village concept are planned for Vancouver and Comox, BC.

With a rapidly aging population and as great as 66 percent of the Canadian senior population projected to be living with dementia by 2031, projects like The Village will help provide older adults with a better form of care where seniors can continue to find joy in daily life.  At present, The Village is a private facility funded by families and individuals with monthly fees ranging between $7,000 and $8,300.  However, the concept of allowing for more freedoms, individualized care and respect for personhood can be translated in a small way in current dementia care homes. A shift in the care model can vastly improve the overall well-being of patients. 

Learn more about dementia care villages by following this link to a recent Canadian study; Dementia Villages:  Innovative Residential Care for People with Dementia, published in the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH) journal.