Welcome to Dementiaville:
Date Posted: 01.05.2012
Welcome to Dementiaville: £17m village in Switzerland will keep sufferers in fake reality. Carers will be disguised as gardeners, hairdressers and shop assistants.
A £17million village will house dementia sufferers in a fake reality where carers are disguised as gardeners, hairdressers and shop assistants.
The community – dubbed Dementiaville – is being designed along the lines of the 1950s-style houses of a neighbouring village near Bern in Switzerland.
It will be the first project of its kind in Europe and will house 150 patients in 23 homes designed to evoke times gone by and therefore increase their sense of security.
The plan is to open the village by 2017. There will be no closed doors, with residents free to move around and the undercover carers intervening only to stop residents straying or to prevent accidents.
On site will be a cinema, shops, and other facilities – all run by those in on the secret that the residents are living in an artificial world.
A similar, but smaller, pioneering experiment in geriatric mental care is underway in The Netherlands where the Hogewey nursing home for dementia sufferers was set up near Amsterdam in 2009.
Its residents pay £4,000 monthly to live in a world they think is normal but is anything but, although not in separate houses as planned for the Swiss village.
Switzerland — like many other countries, including Britain and the U.S — is struggling with ways to cope with its growing, aging population.
Markus Vgtlin, a Swiss businessman behind the Wiedlisbach project, visited Hogewey. 'People with dementia are often restless and aggressive, but at Hogewey they were relaxed and content,' he said. 'I want to emulate that contentment in Switzerland. 'Housing dementia sufferers in 1950s-style houses with front gardens is designed to increase patients’ sense of security. They often have difficulty remembering what was happening at present but usually have firm memories of the past. Such an environment makes them feel comfortable. I call it travelling back in time.'
Dementiaville is the nickname locals have given to the project. Vgtlin plans to call it a ‘Village for People with Dementia’ and he has the backing of the local authority. 'It is a wonderful concept and one that I am totally enthusiastic about,' said Markus Loosli, head of the local aged and handicapped office. 'People will find a better quality of life here.' If planning issues are finalised this year the village could open its doors by 2017.
But not everyone is convinced; Michael Schmieder, director of Switzerland’s Sonnweid home that caters for 150 dementia patients, said: 'The very notion is an attempt to fake the normality that people with dementia don’t have.'
By Allan Hall In Berlin
Source : Daily Mail, 31 January 2012