'Memory care village' to offer home away from home for people with dementia

Joe Faulker, Director of Nursing, Minister of State Jim Daly, Art Teacher Cornelia McGovern and resident Cornelia Waters Murray from Midleton at the announcement of a new Memory Care Village in Cork. Photo: Gerard McCarthy

A spa, gym, hair salon, post office and art studio - just some of the home-away-from-home facilities which will be on offer at a multi-million 'memory care village' on its 10-acre grounds.

The large-scale plan by an east Cork nursing home to construct a pioneering village for residents with dementia has just been launched by Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, Jim Daly.

The private investment scheme will be the largest dementia care village of its scale and kind in Ireland and easily meets the requirements of the minister’s new 40-point ‘Housing Options for our Ageing Population’ policy, which aims to develop more independent living quarters for older people in care. Ireland has an estimated 55,000 people living with dementia with 11 new cases reported every day.

Family-owned Oaklodge nestles midway between Cloyne and Ballycotton with a backdrop of mountain ranges and coastal views. Opened in 2005, it recently received ‘full compliance’ rating from HIQA. The new village will be built adjacent to the existing home - the project will increase Oaklodge’s bed capacity from 65 to 120 and will add 55 jobs to the current payroll of 65.

Oaklodge proprietor, Diarmuid Ó Dálaigh, said: “Eight houses will each provide shared accommodation and garden for about seven residents, each with individual, private bedrooms while sharing communal areas. They will have their own front door and garden and every resident will enjoy a village environment, whilst having the comfort of full nursing home care."

 Katherine Doran, Oakridge nursing home,Minister Jim Daly and resident John O’Leary. Photo: Gerard McCarthy
Katherine Doran, Oakridge nursing home,Minister Jim Daly and resident John O’Leary. Photo: Gerard McCarthy

Staff will assist with cooking, bathing and medication and workers throughout the village will be trained in dementia care, with out-patient facilities also provided.

The village, which will also feature a chapel, will involve a circular design, as ‘dead end’ designs can cause confusion and trauma to dementia sufferers. Mr Ó Dálaigh says there is “proven research that such a setting will reduce stress and enhance residents’ dignity and happiness.”

Modelled on enterprises such as America’s Eden Alternative and Amsterdam’s Hogeweyk dementia village, the scheme was designed by Irish architects Scott Tallon Walker and inspired by a community-support culture on the Blasket Islands.

Minister Daly hailed the scheme as re-imagining care for the elderly: “I look forward to witnessing the development of more state of the art homely village-style living units that will meet the needs of residents and enable them to live with the care and dignity they require and deserve while maximising their independence. I hope this is replicated elsewhere in the country.”

Construction on the village will start later this year, with a 15-month timescale.

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