More freedom and a sense of normality is what residents of the new state-of-the-art dementia village in Ngongotaha are looking forward to when doors open next week.
The Care Village has been built on a 1.3ha lakeside site in Ngongotaha, replicating a small-scale New Zealand town.
With its own supermarket and seven different "styles of living", the village's 65 residents are able to retain their own individuality and independence, while still having professional support and carers nearby.
The village has space for 81 residents, which Whare Aroha Care chief executive Therese Jeffs believes they will have no trouble filling.
"The interest has been surprising. We're really excited to have finally reached this stage and see our dream come true."
She said residents would be put into houses with lifestyle themes matching their own way of life.
"Someone who has always lived in big cities, perhaps had a professional career, is going to be more comfortable in the contemporary or classic home, as opposed to the cultural or country homes.
"The themes will become more pronounced as time goes on, but the main concept behind it is creating homes that are familiar and normal for each resident."
Dolly and Bruce Atkins were yesterday able to see their new home for the first time.
"It's great, very nice," Mrs Atkins remarked straight away.
"We have been looking forward to moving in for a long time."
Mr Atkins said he didn't like to cook, but wouldn't be opposed to getting his hands dirty in the gardens.
"I used to do all the vegetable gardens at home, I once got six bags of spuds out of one garden.
"And madam flower garden," he said, pointing to his wife, "she would do the flower gardens out the front which had roses and dahlias."
Mr Atkins said they once lived on a quarter-acre section where he used to go on "big long walks".
"We had a whole lot of cats and dogs following us around on these long walks ... When we lived in Auckland we walked the length of Dominion Rd, which, if you know that road, you know it is very long.
"I miss it, but I'll be able to walk around here."
Mr and Mrs Atkins' daughter Julia Freeman said the freedom her parents had to move around in a normal setting was key for them in their move from Auckland to Whare Aroha Care last year.
"My parents have been in care since 2010 and since then I always felt the way they lived wasn't really a normal way to live.
"Although they were well cared for, their usual activities had become restricted such as enjoyment of cooking and gardening, and even their freedom of movement was not the same any longer.
"I heard about the village and its philosophy ... and thought my parents would benefit greatly from a care model that offered a more normal way of living."
Ms Freeman said the freedom of the new village would encourage her parents to get out and about more.
"My parents are looking forward to moving into their new home. They were both avid gardeners and dad still loves walking around.
"Most importantly for myself and our family, is that my parents are given options for their everyday life and that the other residents, who have become friends, will be able to visit each other's houses if they wish. That's how a community of older people should be."
Ms Jeffs said aged-care providers had made significant changes in recent years to the way they cared for people.
"We looked for a design concept that matched our vision to allow people with dementia to live a better life.
"The Care Village was built on the belief that there had to be a better way of delivering aged care in New Zealand, one which not only preserved the lifestyles of those needing care, but also challenged traditional institutional practices in the wider industry.
"Our model of care is based on creating and conserving lifestyle, independence and most importantly, community."
The Care Village is the first of its kind to be built in the world outside of Holland, and is based on a renowned Dutch dementia village, De Hogeweyk.
Residents will move in from September 18.
Care Village house themes:
- Middle New Zealand