Based on the Dutch model: A new Solothurn home for people with dementia does not need “hospital stench” or fences.
Some people with dementia move away from their nursing home but do not remember the way back and get lost, the relatives are understandably concerned. Because of such situations, homes for people with dementia are often provided with a fence but fenced off.
So nobody can run away, the nursing staff doesn’t have to look for anyone. Is this type of care a thing of the past? A new Solothurn dementia center in Balsthal is based on a completely different concept. Based on everyday life in the Dutch dementia village “De Hogeweyk”, the Lindenpark in Balsthal has built a retirement and nursing home for 37 million francs.
Insight into the newly built Lindenpark Balsthal
The center consists of two residential buildings and a main building. Bistro, hairdresser, activation room, community room and other rooms are integrated. After two years of construction, 12 residential groups for 76 people with dementia are now ready for occupancy.
Six people share an apartment with a living and dining room, kitchen and terrace. The restaurant with garden is public, the center is not on the edge of the village, but built right in the middle.
Lockdown is over
The philosophy of the Solothurner Lindenpark is based on the fact that the everyday life of people with dementia is made as normal as possible with the care concept. People with dementia who are particularly active are equipped with a GPS transmitter and can thus be found again in an emergency.
Nevertheless, the paths are curved instead of straight, which accommodates the residents. “In this way, you can largely prevent the problem of running away,” says André Grolimund from the Gäu cooperative for elderly care and nursing, the owner of the Lindenpark.
“Public disease” dementia
- Dementia is the generic term for more than 100 different diseases that impair the function of the brain, writes the Alzheimer Switzerland Association.
- Mental, so-called cognitive abilities such as thinking, memory, orientation and language are particularly affected in dementia.
- In irreversible dementia, the brain is directly affected.
- Around 146,500 people with dementia live in Switzerland.
- There are contact points at the Association Alzheimer Switzerland.
In the Lindenpark, late risers are allowed to sleep in in the morning, the employees don’t wear work clothes, but everyday clothes, jeans and T-shirts instead of white coats.
We didn’t want a hospital smell.
You will also look in vain for a toilet directly in the bedroom. As with a normal apartment, it is a separate room. “We wanted to depict exactly what we know. We don’t have a handrail either. We didn’t want a hospital smell or hospital groove. It should be like a normal apartment,” says project manager Patrick Scarpelli.
Residents can help prepare meals if they wish, or help with planting in the raised beds. The food comes on the table in pots, so everyone decides for themselves how much they want to eat. An everyday life like at home, before the illness. The goal is a familiar environment, because people with dementia are stressed by new situations, say those responsible.
Integrating people with dementia instead of separating them out, free sidewalks instead of fences around the home complex – you’ve learned a lot, also in care, says care manager Barbara Schenker. “If we keep saying no, correcting dementia patients, they become stressed and aggressive,” the specialist knows. That’s why weird situations are allowed for us too, for example when a resident “cleans” the table with syrup. “We can wipe it away ten minutes later, no problem.”
The new concept seems to be working. The Balsthal dementia center will open on Tuesday and will be fully utilized by the end of the year. An expansion would be possible, there would still be space for more apartments.