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Test ‘Alzheimer Village’ prepares to greet residents

Work on France’s first “Alzheimer Village”, where people with dementia can live in a stimulating, non-medicalised environment, is progressing with the first residents expected in 2020.

If a scientific evaluation of the ‘village,’ at Dax in the Landes, finds there are substantial benefits, it may become a model for other similar projects.

The complex is inspired by one near Amsterdam and is based on a typical south-west France bastide village. The five-hectare site will include a central square cafe, a concert hall, store and hairdressers and staff will wear ordinary clothes.

Project spokeswoman Mathilde Charon-Burnel said: “Being in a familiar environment has been shown to help Alzheimer’s patients feel comfortable.”

There will be 120 residents, with an equal number of carers giving 24-hour-a-day cover, plus, it is hoped, a similar number of local volunteers. There will also be 10 day-care places and arrangements for respite care to give home carers a break.

It would especially suit people who had previously lived in similar villages and small towns, said Ms Charon-Burnel. The cost will be around €60 a day, equivalent to a state nursing home.

There will be 16 homes of 300m2, with each building having seven to eight residents. There will also be vegetable gardens where residents can work and poultry and other animals for them to look after.

With a budget of €28.8million, the project is much more expensive than a normal new-build nursing home but these are usually only for around 20-30 residents. Funding is coming from the department and regional and national health authorities, and running costs will be €6.7million a year.

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