Dementia village to feature on TV show (+video)

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SPOTLIGHT: TVNZ Sunday's Janet McIntyre (centre) interviews Whare Aroha Care's Therese Jeffs. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
SPOTLIGHT: TVNZ Sunday's Janet McIntyre (centre) interviews Whare Aroha Care's Therese Jeffs. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

A dementia village under construction on the shores of Lake Rotorua is to be the subject of a TVNZ programme.

Producers of Sunday were in Rotorua last week filming not-for-profit aged-care provider Whare Aroha Care.

TVNZ's interest was piqued when it heard that a village modelled on the acclaimed De Hogeweyk dementia village in Holland was being built in New Zealand.

Whare Aroha Care chief executive and project lead Therese Jeffs said with the number of people living with dementia in New Zealand expected to triple by 2050, the spotlight was on how New Zealand decided to care for those people.

"The De Hogeweyk vision is regarded by many world-wide as the way-of-the-future so the fact that Whare Aroha Care will be the first in the world to open a De Hogeweyk inspired village is significant."

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The vision of De Hogeweyk is that instead of institutionalising people with dementia, you create as-near-a-normal lifestyle that they recognise from a time before dementia stripped them of their memories.

A familiar environment and routine is said to provide comfort and security, and a focus on what people with dementia can do, not on what they can't, is expected to lead to positive health outcomes.

Whare Aroha Care is building a small-scale village on the shores of Lake Rotorua at Ngongotaha that is a typical New Zealand town. It will have a main street including supermarket, cafe, hairdresser and clubrooms, which flows down to the lakeside promenade.

Spilling off the town centre will be six-seven bedroom households where residents will participate in the activities of the home as best they can. The homes will have their own individual style, inside and out, representing one of seven different New Zealand lifestyles. Residents and families will pick the lifestyle that best reflects the way the person with dementia lived before they moved into care.

New Whare Aroha dementia village under construction at Ngongotaha. Photograph by Ben Fraser.
New Whare Aroha dementia village under construction at Ngongotaha. Photograph by Ben Fraser.

Earlier in the year, founders of De Hogeweyk, Janette Spiering and Yvonne van Amerongen-Heijer, spoke at the Dementia Care By Design Conference in Rotorua where they endorsed what Whare Aroha Care is creating.

"They will achieve more than we have achieved because they bring it to another level. They are so enthusiastic and driven to bring this model to New Zealand, to adopt it to a New Zealand culture and a New Zealand way of life," Ms Spiering said.

The groundwork is completed and framing is currently going up. Construction of the village is expected to be completed this December.

The date Whare Aroha Care's story will feature on Sunday is yet to be confirmed.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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