Dementia Villages Look Like the Future of Home Care
As Cases Soar, ‘Dementia Villages ‘Look like the future of Home Care
Natasha Chadwick sits down with the New York Times to discuss New Direction Care and their innovative MICROTOWN™. Residents of New Direction Care get to determine their own day with help from the House Companion™ Support Workers meaning they get the joy of freedom, independence and choice.
Half a world away in the town of Bellmere, Australia, NewDirection Care at Bellmere describes itself as the world’s first “microtown” dementia community. Residents live in what resemble typical single-story homes — there are 17 in four different styles, with seven residents per home. The town center includes a corner store, cafes, a salon and a cinema.
“It’s very much like a suburb in Australia,” said Natasha Chadwick, the facility’s founder and chief executive.
This “microtown” is fully inclusive, mixing dementia patients, including younger ones suffering from early onset dementia, with senior residents who haven’t been diagnosed with dementia at all.
“The fact that residents lived in houses with just six other residents was a huge plus for me,” said Elsie Marion Scott, 93, who has lived at NewDirection for just over five years and does not have a diagnosis of dementia. “I also have a GOPHA,” she said, referring to a three-wheeled electric scooter, “and I’m able to go up to 7-11 and soon Woolworths when I choose.”
Functioning as micro-communities within the community at large, facilities like NewDirection Care at Bellmere act as steppingstones for integrating those living with dementia into society at large.
“One of the reasons why we created the microtown to have a mix of residents living within it is that we start to really associate with the external community,” said Ms. Chadwick, who was previously the executive officer for Australia’s National Association of Nursing Homes and Private Hospitals. “So there’s no difference. We’ve already got lots and lots of people coming in and out of our microtown. They use the cinema, they use the cafe, all of that.”
Her next step is to mix in more residents at a planned high-rise community that will house younger residents as well as “someone who might be living with severe dementia as well as someone who might be having a physical disability,” she said. “So it’s really going to just be a microcosm of the general community.”
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