Funding systems and staff-to-resident ratios are among key challenges to replicating the Dutch dementia village model locally, says an Australian aged care consultancy engaged to explore its adaptation.
New developments drawing on concepts from the dementia village of De Hogeweyk in the Netherlands are increasing in Australia, with aged care provider Glenview the latest to announce it was building a dementia village (read that story here).
Operated by Dutch care provider Hogewey, De Hogeweyk is a specially-designed village that resembles its surrounding community with shops, services and entertainment facilities and small like-minded households of residents with dementia who are supported to live freely in the secure environment and socialise in a way that suits them.
Aged care specialists Ansell Strategic has been engaged by a New Zealand aged care provider to undertake a feasibility study for the development of a dementia village in Invercargill, and develop a service model that upholds the essence of De Hogeweyk but adapted to thrive in the NZ context.
There can be implications when transferring concepts between countries with different aged care funding models, said Rosie O’Dowd, assistant analyst at Ansell Strategic.
New Zealand has a similar mixed aged care funding model to Australia, where residents and the government both contribute to the cost of care, she said.
“Comparatively the Netherlands operates under a more tax-financed system, allowing for residential aged care models to be developed based on optimal community modelling rather than a focus on efficiency, scale or aesthetics,” Ms O’Dowd said.
In addition to the dementia-specific aged care facility, the NZ provider is looking to include independent living units on the site to provide continuum of care.
Ansell Strategic research consultant Sara Agostinelli said the competitor demographic analysis based on an 85-bed facility dementia-specific and 10 independent living units returned positive findings indicating a good market opportunity to develop this facility.
Ansell is now assisting to develop a service model, which aims to be as close as possible to the Hogewey philosophy of care including freedom of movement for residents throughout the facility.
The preliminary research has identified a few issues applicable to both the NZ and Australian environments, Ms Agostinelli said.
Specific to NZ, the idea of having free movement of residents throughout the facility does not comply with the district health board’s funding regulations that no more than 20 residents, or 20 beds, can be in one secured space, Ms Agostinelli said.
“The main other challenge has been with having high staffing ratio, which is a very costly exercise for providers in both NZ and Australia,” Ms Agostinelli told Australian Ageing Agenda.
The Dutch model relies on approximately two permanent staff members including volunteer staff to one resident, said Ms Agostinelli.
“The challenge is to promote this freedom of movement throughout the facility whilst having adequate staff supervision.”
Ms Agostinelli said many learnings from this project in NZ would be transferable to similar developments in Australia.
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