British Columbia

New residents settle into 'dementia village' in Langley

The nearly three-hectare facility is designed to look and feel like a community, complete with a store, a hair salon and a local cafe. Base rates start at $7,300 per month.

3-hectare facility for 75 people designed as a community, with store, cafe and hair salon

A new care facility in Langley, B.C., that caters to people with dementia is built to look like a village and lets residents wander as they please. (CBC)

It's been almost a month since residents moved into The Village, a private care facility in Langley, B.C., that takes a new approach to helping people with dementia. 

Instead of a hospital setting, the nearly three-hectare facility is designed to look and feel like a community — complete with a store, a hair salon and a local cafe. Each home has 12 people living with support staff. 

The 75 residents can walk around freely, but the facility is surrounded by a 2.5-metre fence so they can't wander off. It's also equipped with cameras and sensors.

Elroy Jesperson, project lead on The Village, said he was inspired to create the facility after seeing and hearing about similar places in the U.S. and Europe.

"I thought, we need to do that as well," Jesperson said.

A cafe is one of several community-style amenities that residents in The Village can enjoy. (CBC)

Jesperson said The Village is the first of its kind to open in Canada. Similar facilities are on their way in South Vancouver and Comox

Jennifer Stewart, manager of advocacy and education at the Alzheimer Society of B.C., said traditional dementia support doesn't typically give patients much space to wander around. 

"Nobody wants to live out the rest of their life in a hospital setting," Stewart said. 

By contrast, The Village is based on the principle of allowing people to roam freely within the community to join in activities as they please.

Each home at The Village houses 12 residents, as well as support staff. (CBC)

Residents are equipped with a "wellness bracelet" that monitors their location so staff can keep track of their whereabouts.  

However, The Village is likely out of reach for most people: base rates start at $7,300 per month.

In June, a report from the Seniors Advocate of British Columbia found that even home support costing $8,800 a year is unaffordable for most seniors. 

Despite the costs at The Village, Jesperson said it didn't take long for dozens of people to pay a deposit to register a spot for a family member. There is now a wait list.

"We've had many people say, 'This is what we need," he said. 

With files from Estefania Duran

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