Imagine a safe and secure village where everyday activities, such as going to the grocery store, or taking family members out to a restaurant, are possible for those who suffer from memory loss and confusion. This unique approach to dementia care by health care professionals in the Netherlands was the subject of a recent webinar presented by the North East CCAC.
"Reflections on a Trip to De Hogeweyk: Lessons Learned, Opportunities, and Ways Forward" was an opportunity for the CCAC's Robert Barnett, Director of Research, Planning & Partnerships, Lorraine Leblanc from the Alzheimer Society, and Joanne Russell with the North East Specialized Geriatric Services to share their experiences from a 2014 study tour, which included a stop at the renowned De Hogeweyk, a fully functioning village where all tenants are patients with dementia.
"It was an opportunity of a lifetime, says Barnett. "We gained a lot of insight on the way dementia patients are cared for within this village and we were able to compare the differences and the similarities on the way we do things here in Canada."
One of the team's observations is that a person with dementia, with appropriate support, can remain independent longer and transition into appropriate housing. "I saw more people visiting their loved ones than we might in a Long-Term Care Home in Canada," adds Barnett. "I believe this is because they are meeting in a place the patient considers to be their home. They are able to go out for a meal at the village's restaurant, or take their family members to the on-site movie theatre. The staff is focused on care for both patients and their loved ones. I see this mindset making its way to Canada in some new programs and directives."
Also while in the Netherlands, the international delegates founded a community of practice for Care Coordinators and researchers interested in further investigation into best practices in dementia care. Through this group, for example, the team learned that Dutch community-based case managers focus solely on one-to-one care and serve as advocates for their patients and their families.
"At the end of the day, we did see saw strong similarities between the Netherlands and North Eastern Ontario; we are connected by the same goal … we all want what's best for the patient," says Barnett.
For more information about the results of the Netherland study tour, please visit the webcast.