For those living with dementia, housing options in Australia have been fairly grim; but innovation in residential aged care has finally arrived!
On considering your own ageing and the possibility of developing dementia, the thought of linoleum-covered floors, regimented meal times and scheduled activities probably makes you shudder.
You are not alone. Many of our current residential aged care homes, particularly for people living with dementia, are based on a far from appealing 1970’s institutional model.
Innovation is happening
The good news is there are innovators developing residential models based on home and community life. These new models see people with dementia living longer, keeping more mobile, taking less medication and smiling.
The first ground breakers
The idea of building residential care that emancipates people living with dementia, was borne by a group of carers in the early 1990s in the Netherlands.
At their tea breaks, the carers all agreed that they would not want their loved ones with dementia living in their residential aged care home . Bravely, they decided to do something about it.
The result was the ground-breaking Hogeweyk village[2 & 3], the world’s first residential village for people living with severe dementia. It was opened in 2009.
Located in the township of Weesp, just outside of Amsterdam, Hogeweyk is the collaborative effort of these carers and a firm of architects. Both now offer consulting services on building dementia-specific villages around the world.
The ground-breaking concept
Hogeweyk is a gated village comprising of 23 homes, each with slightly different design features, with six residents living in each home.
Within the village are shops and services we’d expect to see in own communities – a pub, café restaurant, supermarket, hair salon, cinema and various clubs.
While it does see six strangers living together in the one home, management is careful to place people with similar interests, backgrounds and routines in the same household. They describe it as “lifestyle” placement. This helps to obtain a good outcome matching like- minded residents.
Each home has a dedicated professional team trained in dementia care that organises the shopping, cooking and laundry of the household. Residents are included in these activities to help them lead normal lives. Family members and volunteers participate in activities, all of which de-emphasise dementia and enable the individual to do what they can within their cognitive and physical abilities
Similar residential care concepts have arrived in Australia!
Purpose-built residential homes
In November 2012, Group Homes Australia opened its first home for people living with dementia in the Sydney suburb of St Ives.
The model involves constructing purpose-built homes or renovating existing homes in residential suburbs across Sydney. Each home accommodates a maximum of 10 residents and offers a carer ratio of one carer (home maker) to three residents.
There are currently 16 suburban homes. A further five are slated to be opened in 2023. Group Homes Australia are not Government funded, although you can bring in your allocated home care package to assist with the costs.
In mid-2018, Freedom Housing opened its “Freedom Housing nest” in Sale, Victoria. The purpose-built home is designed as a “nest” with four private houses connected by a central space called the “Freedom Key”. In this space, 24/7 care is provided as needed. The private houses may be occupied by those needing low or high care, and also their loved ones. We toured this home in 2019 and felt the concept could easily be duplicated around Australia.
Purpose-built village outside of Brisbane
In December 2017, New Directions Care opened its microtown near Bellmere, a rural township just north of Brisbane.
The microtown features 17 separate homes. Each home accommodates seven residents, and the household is run by a trained “house companion”.
A point of difference with Hogewyek is that local Bellmere residents are invited to use the microtown’s facilities - its corner store, café, gym, cinema, beauty salon, GP, and dentist – to promote an authentic community. We toured this home in 2019 as well and feel that this may well be the future of residential aged care.
And another near Hobart
In July 2020, Korongee Village opened its doors to people living with dementia. Korongee is located in Glenorchy, north of Hobart. It offers 12 tailored homes with eight private bedrooms for residents. The village offers a general store, café, hair salon, community centre, and wellness centre.
DR Care Solutions is familiar with these concepts and homes and has personally visited many of them.
Activity Poster for Visiting a Loved One Living with Dementia
If you are visiting someone living with dementia, download our Dementia Activity Poster for great ideas of activities you can share with your loved one.
Dementia Activity Poster
Activities for Living in the Moment & Enjoying the Present
Visits to a loved one living with dementia can be an amazing and rewarding experience for both of you. But we know it's not always easy knowing what activities to enjoy with them that will be rewarding, fun and comfortable.
We put together a list of enjoyable activities for your visits.
It's free and easy to download; we invite you to get your copy.
Submit the form below and we'll send it directly to your email address.
If you are seeking care for a loved one with dementia, please feel free to call me, Danielle Robertson, for an initial discussion on how to set up the right care, support and assistance at the right time and in the right place.
 ABC: Interview - Yvonne van Amerongen, Hogewey Founder
 Be The Care Concept: Living As Usual For People With Severe Dementia - The Hodeweyk
 Dementia Village Associates: Hogeweyk: The Hogeweyk - Normal Life For People Living With Severe Dementia
 Group Homes Australia: About Us
 Freedom Housing Close To Completion
 ABC: Micro-Town Gives People WIth Cognitive Impairment, Dementia Independence & Social Engagement
 Korongee: Advancing Dementia Care