Calvary Hospital has been awarded a $50,000 grant to investigate the possibility of building a dementia village in Southland.
Community Trust of Southland chief executive John Prendergast announced the grant on Monday, which is from the trust’s Innovation Fund.
Calvary Hospital Southland chairwoman Jan Dunne said the concept was to provide patients with a lifestyle as close to normal as possible, without the need for hospitalisation.
Calvary had been home to dementia patients who ended up having to be moved to other facilities because Calvary was not gated and did not have lock up facilities, Dunne said.
“It can be very upsetting for staff, patients and their families.”
The dementia village concept would provide housing, where patients with similar backgrounds or interests would live together.
“For example, we might have five bedroom houses, and one house would have people from a farming background. And we might have a house where people with a similar culture would live.”
The point was a patient could live in the village until the end of their life, without having to move into hospital care, provided they had no other complex health issues.
“They can continue to live as they used to live … it makes a huge difference,” Dunne said.
“Our vision is that this village would not just become part of the Southland community but where the community would be welcome to come and be part of the village.
“With the dementia population expected to triple by 2050, we are looking for a new approach to care for dementia sufferers and to give them a sense of freedom, belonging, and value in our community.”
Dunne said the feasibility study was expected to begin in May, and she hoped it could be completed within about three months.
Age Concern manager Janette Turner said depending on the final model, Calvary’s project could be “amazing” for Southland and dementia patients.
Southland did not currently have many facilities that were able to offer care for patients with severe dementia, Turner said.
“I think it would be amazing if they [patients] would be able to live in a home environment.
“Anything that makes it more relaxed [would be positive],” she said.
Prendergast said the project Calvary was considering could have a significant impact on the community and could transform dementia care in Southland.
The village is based on the De Hogeweyk model in Amsterdam. The village gives residents the opportunity to participate in normal life with streets, gardens, a shop, cafe, and playgrounds.
A similar New Zealand concept, Whare Aroha CARE, is being built in Rotorua and is due to be completed in May.