Rotorua people have had their first look at a new state-of-the-art dementia village planned for Ngongotaha - which will include facilities such as a superette, hairdressers, club rooms and a sports bar for residents.
The village is expected to be the first of its kind in the Asia-Pacific region and is planned for a 1.3ha lakefront site on Taui St, initially catering for about 80 residents. An open day was held at the site yesterday.
It is inspired by a Dutch dementia village, De Hogeweyk, and signals a change in approach to the care of elderly.
Residents will live in "households" - each with 10 bedrooms - and will be grouped with like-minded residents.
The households will be decorated with that in mind.
General manager Therese Jeffs said the facility would be fully fenced, with only one way in and out, which would be monitored.
A communal area such as a hall is planned for the second stage of the development and will be able to be used by the wider Ngongotaha community.
Mrs Jeffs said households would be run like normal households, with activities like the laundry and cooking carried out in each household, by staff with the help of residents, if they wanted to assist.
She said there was the idea that the residents could decide what they wanted for lunch or dinner, then head down with staff to the superette to pick up what was needed. Residents would be able to help with the meal preparations if they wanted to, or at least be a part of the atmosphere of preparing the meal, like they would be in a normal home.
"It will be a huge development opportunity for staff as well."
It would be about "normalising life" for the residents.
Support services manager Deanna Smit said, within the grounds, residents would be able to go wherever they wanted.
"Nothing will be a wrong choice for them, whatever choice they make will be the right one. We're not going to add to any of their confusion."
The pair said they didn't sit down with plans to create a Kiwi version of De Hogeweyk but went in with completely open minds.
"We had this idea that we wanted to create something providing a better life for people who live in aged care," Mrs Smit said.
It supports the current direction of Whare Aroha CARE, which supports the idea that elderly are not dying of illness and disease but loneliness, haplessness and boredom.
Mrs Jeffs said the response to the plans so far had been "overwhelmingly positive".
"People are excited and there is interest because it's a different way of delivering care."
Whare Aroha CARE is currently at Hinemaru St, but its lease is set to expire, prompting the move. It was expected the new village would open mid-2017.