Richmond Villages, one of the leaders in the retirement living sector, has launched a pioneering new dementia ‘village,’ one of the first of its kind in the UK.
Richmond Villages Willaston, inspired by a Dutch ‘household’ care model, has opened in Cheshire and champions community living for those with dementia.
Residents live in small households where they are encouraged to continue day-to-day activities in a safe and social environment, helping maintain their levels of independence.
A growing crisis of dementia care
It comes as Richmond Villages’ new report, Strength in Community: The Future of UK Dementia Care report reveals a growing crisis of dementia care in the UK.
Half (50%) of carers supporting loved ones with dementia say they are not confident in providing sufficient care at home, and nearly three quarters (71%) worry about keeping them safe from harm. What’s more, half (48%) have struggled to adapt their home to make it more dementia friendly.
It is estimated that over 920,000 people are currently living with dementia in the UK – a number expected to almost double to 1.6 million within the next 20 years, making it an increasingly prevalent issue.
However, understanding of the condition is still limited amongst those seeking care.
Only a quarter of carers felt they had a good knowledge of dementia prior to a loved one being diagnosed, with 74 per cent saying they felt their knowledge was limited or they didn’t know anything about the condition. A third (34%) agreed that there is a gap for innovation in dementia care in the UK.
“People across the country are working hard to care for loved ones with dementia. We understand this isn’t always easy and want to provide the right support, when it’s needed,” explained Philippa Fieldhouse, Managing Director for Richmond Villages.
“This Dutch household care model has had strong results in the Netherlands and is an exciting step forward for UK dementia care. We want to help people lead fulfilling lives, supporting them to retain their independence and connection with the community, so that they can live well with dementia.
“The learnings from this village will shape the future of care across our other homes and villages, offering people with dementia the right care for them.”
Leading independent lives
Nine in ten (89%) carers agree that retaining independence is important, while 42% found that where people with dementia had kept their independence, it had had a positive impact on their condition.
When considering options for full-time care, 88 per cent of carers want an environment that encourages active, independent living.
At Richmond Villages Willaston, in place of traditional support services such as cooks and cleaners, residents are supported by ‘household assistants’ who help residents with meal-planning, cooking, cleaning, gardening and organising activities.
Designed with leading experts in care, the village consists of six households, each designed with accessibility in mind. Households have six en-suite bedrooms with private patios, as well as shared living areas and safe outdoor spaces which bring residents together.
Residents can also use the spa or hairdresser within the village, or enjoy landscaped grounds including a woodland walk – allowing them to stay as independent as possible in a social and secure environment.
It also introduces innovative new technology. At night, residents will be ‘acoustically monitored’ using an auditory system. This observes noise levels in a resident’s room while they sleep, alerting staff if sounds exceed or drop below expected levels, though otherwise allowing residents to retain their independence with an undisturbed night’s sleep.
And ties to the local community are important too – not only for the benefit of residents, but to promote a better understanding of the condition in society.
Over a third of carers (36%) feel that dementia care should involve the wider local community, while 68 per cent say they would welcome support assisting their loved one while out and about. 44 per cent also agreed it was important to bring different generations together.
Richmond Villages Willaston will welcome local groups such as schools and charities, to help residents maintain strong ties with their local community. It also has a family play area to ensure the village is welcoming for visitors of all ages.
Talking about the evolution of dementia care and adoption of the Dutch household model, Wendy Perry, from The University of Stirling’s Dementia Services Development Centre, said: “It’s easy to live well with dementia providing there is access to the right support and care. The diagnosis can still be overwhelming though – especially for those without previous experience.
“While it’s still in its infancy in the UK, the Dutch household model marks a new style of care that more people will be able to consider in the years ahead, putting residents and their independence at the heart of care.
“Dementia is set to touch even more lives over the next decade so it’s vital we improve knowledge around the condition and to help people make informed choices about care.”
Richmond Villages Willaston is the latest development from Richmond Villages, part of Bupa, which operates ten luxury retirement villages across the UK. In addition to delivering the Dutch household model of care, the specialist village has a 35-bed care home for dedicated care for those in the more advanced stages of dementia.
For more content like this visit 50connect Dementia care and awareness channel.Last modified: June 10, 2021