Canada’s first “dementia village” opens
June 6, 2019
Canada’s first retirement housing concept designed for seniors suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia is becoming a reality with a private developer opening the Village in Langley, British Columbia this June. The Village is developed by B.C.-based Canbrit Development.
Experts say the concept, first introduced in Europe has “turned the [senior’s] nursing home concept upside down” by replacing institutional facilities with cottages centred around a secured-perimeter retail village and community amenities where residents are free to safely roam at will.
The first dementia village is called De Hogeweyk, a short-train ride away from Amsterdam, Netherlands. It’s a small-house concept of six people living in a household with walkable access to a complete village within a walled compound. The most innovative aspect is a general store where seniors, accompanied by a caregiver, shop each day for the household groceries and supplies.
“These seniors, most of whom have advanced dementia, are experiencing industry-leading aged care a generation ahead of its time,” said Dan Levitt, an adjunct professor in gerontology at Simon Fraser University and an adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia School of Nursing.
The Village, a seven-acre complex at 3920 198 Street in Langley, has been developed based on the De Hogeweyk template. Construction began in 2018 and the Village will open by mid-June, according to Elroy Jesperson, senior vice-president of special projects with operator Verve Senior Living, headquartered in Mississauga, Ontario.
“We are the only one like this in Canada,” Jesperson said.
The Village is composed of six cottages that will be home to 72 residents sharing a communal kitchen. The cottages are clustered around a retail village that includes a grocery store, barbershop, beauty salon, coffee shop and even a neighbourhood pub. There is also a community centre with an arts studio and a community garden.
The entire site is discreetly fenced. The walking paths and egress to all buildings are designed with safety in mind. On-site staff provide round-the-clock care and monitoring—including help with shopping, meal preparation and 24-7 nursing care, if required.
The Village has 50 registered applicants. To date, about 66 per cent of the rental spaces have been leased to residents aged 58 to 95.
Monthly rental costs range from $6,950 for assisted living to $7,800 for those who require full-time nursing assistance, Jesperson said.
Levitt, who is also executive director of the Tabor Village retirement home in Abbotsford, B.C., said the dementia village concept represents a sea change for the multibillion-dollar seniors housing sector, which has largely been modelled around institutional and programmed care.
“Centres of living, designed as small households where seniors live together and choose what they want to do and when they want to do it, has turned the nursing home upside down,” Levitt said.