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Canada’s First Ever Dementia Village

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Last week I attended the opening of a new beautiful small community, set in a peaceful neighbourhood. It is a place where people living with dementia can live a full life in cottage-style households. This is The Village Langley – Canada’s first dementia-care village, just an hour’s drive east of Vancouver, British Columbia.

It was extraordinary to be there – it filled me with emotion. Six cottages surrounded by trees, walking spaces, a community centre. The centre has a general store, cafe and bistro, salon, and spa. This is a gated community that leaves residents there free to walk about in safety.

This is a dream come true for Elroy Jesperson, the project leader. He says that the goal of the village is to find ways to give people living with dementia lives with purpose and to keep them as independent as long as possible.

Jesperson said one of the plans is to put up a Canadian flag pole. That will offer someone a purpose – every morning the flag must go up, and every evening it must come down. There is a multipurpose red barn at the back, a workshop, gardens galore and much more. How wonderful is that.

At the opening, I spoke with Kristina van der Zwan, Community Centre Manager, and she told one of the big differences at The Village Langley is that all the staff are responsible for engaging the residents in leading a rich life.

“Typically staff in senior living operate in silos, she says. But here everyone will be engaging residents as they arrive, providing support, finding out what they can do to help.”

Java Group Programs at The Village Langley

It is an intentional community – a place to live a purposeful life. The Java Group peer support and mentoring programs are one of the initiatives being implemented.

As leader of the life enrichment team, Kristina stated: “Offering the Java programs gives residents structured opportunities to help one another and build meaningful relationships. The village is an ideal place to take on one of our biggest challenges in our industry – and that is loneliness and social isolation.”

Stay tuned! If you are interested in becoming a volunteer facilitator of the Java programs, contact Kristina Van Der Zwan at The Village Langley at cc.mgr.tvl@verveseniorliving.com.

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