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Intentional Dementia Care Around the World


A guiding principle of ComfortCare Homes is a concept we call intentional design. The simple yet innovative concept of creating enriching environments for residents is a hallmark of successful dementia care programs around the world. Much more than a plan for spaces, intentional design means bringing the specific needs of residents to the foreground and providing familiar, comfortable spaces supported by responsive and enriching engagement.

When we developed this model of care 25 years ago, the standard of dementia care was institutional, within large, impersonal hospital settings. Today, the expectations of families and caregivers here and abroad have shifted; we see more examples of personal interaction and residential-style care. From an entire village designed for those with dementia to creative ways of engaging with residents within different cultures, our understanding of how best to connect with people diagnosed with dementia-related illnesses is growing on a global scale.

The Power of Place

The small village of Hogewey on the outskirts of Amsterdam, Netherlands, is actually a home for dementia patients. More than 150 residents with dementia are encouraged to fill their day with activities like shopping, going to the movies, or meeting at the café. Similar to the ComfortCare Homes model of intentional design, the village of Hogewey is built to give residents a safe and secure venue that enables them to continue living an enjoyable and fulfilling life, even as their own world changes as their dementia progresses.

Immersed in Memories

In America, the concept of an enclosed town for people with dementia has yet to catch on, although a San Francisco dementia care provider, Glenner, has developed a day village modeled after the 1950s and 60s. Here, rooms are styled as places typically found in town squares at the time — a barber shop, diner, theater, library, city hall, and clinic among them. By immersing residents in a time in which their memories are the strongest, caregivers find it is possible to reduce agitation, improve mood, and improve sleep quality. At ComfortCare Homes, we use these same techniques, surrounding residents with the music, images, and activities that mean the most to each person.

Intergenerational Connections

Inside another Dutch retirement home an intergenerational living program is helping provide needed services for university students and care home residents. Students in need of affordable housing are able to live rent-free at the retirement home in exchange for 30 hour a month of volunteer work socializing and interacting with their elderly neighbors. Similarly, at ComfortCare Homes, we encourage regular visits from family members and friends to youth groups and young volunteers, all planned in a way to encourage healthy socializing.

Story Telling and Sharing

Across England and Wales trained volunteers in the Sporting Memories Network encourage those with dementia to recall and share favorite sporting memories, such as monumental events or the fun of participating in a particular sport. Similarly, English students from the University of Exeter pioneered the Exeter Care Homes Reading Project, visiting care homes to read out loud to the residents, sharing the power of literature with those living with dementia.

If you are considering professional care for your loved one with dementia, be sure to ask about intentional design and the types of personalized, engaging care shared in this article. We invite you to reach out to ComfortCare Homes with your questions or a free consultation. For more than 25 years, we’ve specialized exclusively in dementia care. ComfortCare Homes is the best choice for care of all types of dementia diagnoses. Call 316-685-3322 today.

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