Sneak Preview - Q&A with Yvonne van Amerongen, Founder of Hogewey Dementia Village

Hogewey Dementia Village near Amsterdam stands out as a model of how creativity and innovation can transform the aging experience. We’re thrilled to be hosting Yvonne van Amerongen-Heijer, founder of Hogewey Dementia Village, as a keynote speaker at Aging2.0 OPTIMIZE, Oct 12-14 in San Francisco. We had a chance to catch up with van Amerongen-Heijer to learn more about the inspiration and thought behind Hogewey Dementia Village:



How did you get your start in the field of aging and memory care?  

I studied occupational therapy and worked in a psychiatric hospital before later moving to a rehabilitation center. Having children changed my life, but as soon as my children went to school, I found a job in Hogewey, which at the time was a traditional nursing home.



At the time you joined Hogewey, it was a much different place from what it is today. Where did the idea to build a Dementia Village come from?

In 1992, I was a care manager at Hogewey, and it dawned on us [the management team] - that we weren’t satisfied with the care we were providing and would never wish this care on our own parents, friends, or ourselves. We needed to do something different.



How is Hogewey different today from what it was like in 1992?

The only similarity between Hogewey today and Hogewey in 1992 is that the people who come to live with us have dementia. Other than this, the life of our residents today is completely different from the life of our residents in 1992 - who were basically living in an institution.



Tell us about the model of care at Hogewey Dementia Village today.

At Hogewey, residents continue going about their normal, everyday lives in a setting that’s familiar to them - with cafes, grocery stores, and more - and encourages social interaction. We provide them with freedom while making sure their environment is safe, while being surrounded by familiar settings reduces confusion. There are 6 pillars to the model, and all are equally important: favorable surroundings, life’s pleasures, employees and volunteers, health, organization, and lifestyle.



What kind of impact have you seen? How have you measured this?

Less aggression! More freedom in safety. In our country, we’re required to provide detailed data, including falling incidents, medicine and antipsychotics given, and more. We also measure the satisfaction of the resident’s family every two years. Our metrics are benchmarked throughout the country, and De Hogewey is always one of the best 10 in the country.



Are you seeing other people implement a similar approach?

Yes! In New Zealand the first Dementia Village based on our principles will open at the end of this year. The next will be opening in Australia early next year. In Oslo, we’ve been working with four nursing homes to implement this concept for several years now. These are just a few of the organizations that have asked for our support.

What tips do you have for those interested in replicating a similar care model where they live?

The Hogewey model is based on Dutch culture. My advice is to not simply replicate it but rather be sure to translate it into a model that fits your own culture. (We have 20+ years of experience and can help!) Also, be willing to learn from your mistakes. In our experience, each time we ‘took the easy road’ and changed things to be more efficient - for example, hiring staff with fewer years of education - we saw the quality of care decline.

Most importantly, Hogewey Dementia Village wasn’t the work of one person, but rather the result of an entire group of people who came together to figure out a respectful way to care for people with dementia. We all dared to do this!



Thank you for taking the time to speak with us! We can’t wait to meet you and learn more about this unique model of care at next month’s OPTIMIZE event. (For those interested, tickets are still available at