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Fundraising campaign to fund plans for Australia’s first dementia village

Plans are underway for Australia’s first dementia village with the launch of a fundraising campaign to raise $300,000 for a feasibility study and development plan. Based on the Dutch dementia village model Hogeweyk, the proposed site for Australia’s 150-place dementia village is in Heathcote, Victoria.

An artist impression of Australia’s first dementia village
An artist impression of Australia’s first dementia village

With local care facilities experiencing difficulties in managing severe dementia behaviours, Heathcote Health decided to work with community partners to explore dementia village option for Heathcote explains Steven Abbott, Manager Community Partnerships, City of Greater Bendigo. “This was also something that the community felt important to include in the Heathcote and District Community Plan,” he adds.

As well as focusing on developing models of care that meet consumer needs and are cost effective, the village will also include facilities for teaching and research, and a workforce development centre of excellent in dementia care.

Heathcote Dementia Village Steering Group Chair Dan Douglass says the village will set a benchmark for best practice care. “It will feature models of care set around a real life, safe ‘village environment’ where the cost of using all the facilities will be built into the affordable price of living there,” he says. 

“The village will limit the risks for those people caring for dementia sufferers and, by serving as a medical research and training facility, medical breakthroughs implemented at the village will translate to wide-ranging benefits for those people whose loved ones aren’t living there.

The village will be located on approximately five acres and will have a number of tailored accommodation settings and separate amenities blocks together with a supermarket, hairdresser, theatre, and eateries. Residents will also experience the traditional healthcare system and have access to care farming (agriculture), healing gardens (gardening), nature conservation (eco-therapy) and caring for animals.

The village will be located on approximately five acres

Mr Abbott says the approach to funding is three fold. “It will involve crowdfunding, philanthropic and government funding from Council and hopefully a contribution from State Government,” he says. 

“By small amounts of money raised through the community to contribute to the project, the aim is to build a sense of contribution and ownership from the community.”

Partners in the project include Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, Bendigo & Adelaide Bank, Heathcote & District Community Bank, Heathcote Health, Applied Aged Care Solutions and City of Greater Bendigo and Melbourne philanthropist Susan Alberti.

“Susan Alberti is the official spokesperson, has had a personal family experience with dementia and believes in better models of care,” says Mr Abbot. “She is passionate about research and innovation potential.”

If the study is successful, it is estimated the village will eventually cost around $50m with a possible additional $20m for more accommodation and teaching facilities.

The project will also bring economic benefits for the area with the creation of around 250 jobs. Mr Douglass says a number of local supporting industries will be critical to the success of the village and will also be able to share in the economic benefits of the project. “When complete, the dementia village is expected to inject $15M per annum into the local economy,” he says.

The City of Greater Bendigo is holding an information session at 10am on Friday 19 May. Contact the Council for further details. 

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