Beautiful homes, manicured gardens, a local shop, a farm with llamas and chickens, a hair salon and a wholesome bistro with beer and margaritas on tap.
These are not the typical elements of a residential care center, but Village of Langley in Canada seeks to turn the concept of dementia care on its head, with a homely rather than hospice-like atmosphere.
The “dementia village” opened in 2019 and is currently home to 75 residents who pay between $8,000 and $10,000 a month, depending on their individual care needs. It also hosts a brigade of staff who wear everyday clothes rather than scrubs.
The Village Langley Instagram page reads: “The Village enables a safe and enriched life for people living with dementia. Our model supports quality of life, fulfillment, dignity and choice.”
Village Langley opened in 2019 and is currently home to 75 residents
The ‘villagers’ pay between $8,000 and $10,000 a month for 24/7 care
The Village Langley Instagram page reads: “The Village enables a safe and enriched life for people living with dementia. Our model supports…dignity and choice’
Rather than being confined to their living quarters, residents can explore the grounds at their leisure
Each house on the estate accommodates 12 people living with support staff.
Instead of being cooped up in their living quarters, residents can freely explore the grounds, with eight-foot fences, cameras and sensors to ensure their safety.
Natalie Podwinski has been working as a Life Enrichment Manager at Village Langley since opening and says she fully supports the dementia care concept.
She told DailyMail.com: ‘The Village Langley is unique in the way it organically adapts its routines and life-enriching programs to the needs and desires of the villagers as they journey with dementia.
‘We help make every day great for our villagers! We call our residents villagers instead of patients, so that they feel more at home.’
She says the relaxed atmosphere has many benefits for residents and staff have seen “less frustrated and aggressive behavior” through this approach.
The health worker added: “The trained staff understand the importance of staying flexible and adapting to the needs of the villagers. This gives the villagers a sense of control over their day and maintains their identity and autonomy.’
Alan Meggy, 75, has lived at Village Langley since August 2021 and his longtime friend, Carole Chesham, told Worldwide news that she is also a proponent of the model.
There is a modest local shop where villagers can browse for goods
Natalie Podwinski has been working at Village Langley as a Life Enrichment Manager since opening and says she fully supports the dementia care concept
Staff say they have seen “less behavior of frustration and aggression” thanks to a more relaxed atmosphere in the care facility
Langley Village was the vision of Elroy Jespersen, who worked in aged care for nearly three decades before starting his own company
Alan was an avid adventurer before he was diagnosed with dementia, climbing some of the world’s most challenging mountains and driving race cars.
says Carole that she thinks ‘it’s very important if you’ve been an active person, that you’re in a place where you don’t feel institutionalized, where you feel a sense of freedom’.
That was the vision of Elroy Jespersen, who worked in aged care for nearly three decades before co-founding Village Langley.
After hosting several frustrations with traditional healthcare he started looking for a better way to care for patients with dementia and was inspired by a similar operation in the Netherlands.
He explained: ‘First and foremost, make society realize that people with dementia are first and foremost human beings.
“They are your family in many cases. They can lead a good life, a different life perhaps, but a good life nonetheless.’
Jespersen and his team built a five-hectare village with the goal of making it as “deinstitutionalized” as possible.
More than 747,000 Canadians are living with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Association
Podwinski said if she had to sum up the village in three words, it would be “engagement, freedom and comfort.”
There are llamas in the villagers, which residents can pet and feed
“Institutions, hospitals wear uniforms, they wear smocks, they wear scrubs. And we don’t want that, we aren’t. So we (tell the staff) to dress normally,” Jespersen explained.
His employee, Podwinski, said if she had to sum up the village in three words, they would be “involvement, freedom and comfort.”
It gives people with dementia freedom of movement and the opportunity to organize their own day. This helps to keep some of their independence.
Asked what impressed her most during her time there, she told DailyMail.com: “I’m impressed (with) how the villagers lighten up when they help the staff deliver newspapers to the homes, how they help with washing the dishes after a meal, going to the store to “shop” and doing the everyday things they used to do at home.
“This brings so much joy to their day.”
She concludes, “I definitely think more places should adopt the model we have.
‘It gives people with dementia freedom of movement and the opportunity to organize their own day. That helps to retain a bit of independence.’
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 747,000 Canadians are living with the condition or another form of dementia.
And globally, that number is at least 44 million, making the disease “a global health crisis that must be addressed.”