In time for World Alzheimer’s Day, a new ‘village’ that will support people to live well with Dementia opens at St Andrew’s Healthcare in Northampton.

The new Lowther Hub complex is situated in the grounds of the hospital. It is home to around 40 patients with complex dementia and Huntingdon’s disease.

Based around a village theme, St Andrew’s aims to offer more than a hospital or nursing home. Instead, it features areas such as:

  • a village green where family and patients can meet and spend time together,
  • a post office and pillar box,
  • a village hall which acts a social hub for meetings, activities and get-togethers.

The village feel aims to normalise hospital care. This is a concept based on De Hogeweyk; a gated model village in the Netherlands which was designed specifically as a Dementia care facility. The environment aims to reduce restrictions as much as possible.

Dr Inga Stewart, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, explained:

“The physical environment for people living with dementia is often the silent partner in improving their engagement and overall quality of life. The new village at our Northampton hospital is fantastic, balancing patients’ safety and security, in a comfortable, homely and welcoming environment.”

St Andrew’s have incorporated visual clues into the building’s design, such as memory boxes, coloured doors and visual prompts, which aim to aid recognition and reduce confusion and frustration. The village also makes good use of technology. Circadian Rhythm lighting (which follows the 24-hour internal clock, or rhythm) helps the mind to be active during the day and restful at night.

Other features include Dementia-friendly bathroom taps, which look like traditional cross-headed taps but will report changes in cognitive ability, for example if someone repeatedly leaves the taps on.

Reminiscence sessions, arts and music are all standard at St Andrew’s. The new environment ensures patients have the space to enjoy these activities. There is also easy access to the communal gardens, with raised beds to make gardening easier for patients to enjoy.