A two-hectare village built for people living with dementia – a first in Canada – is thriving.

The Village is the brainchild of Elroy Jespersen and his team at Verve Senior Living. Located in Langley, British Colombia, it is designed to feel like a neighbourhood, including colourful houses, a community centre and a farm.

“Having society, first of all, realise that people with dementia are first and foremost people. They are your family in many cases. They can live a good life, a different life, perhaps, but still a good life,” Elroy told Global News.

One of the key principles at The Village is called, “roam free.”

“Many of the people living with dementia become very agitated because they can’t move about as they wish. So, we said we need to build a community where people can walk out the door, walk around, come and go as they please and still remain safe,” Elroy said.

Eitaro Hirota, The Village project architect with NSDA Architects, said one of the principles of designing for people with dementia is that you don’t want dead-end corridors or paths.

“If you have a dead end, it goes to a destination so that it doesn’t seem that the path ends and there’s nothing there,” he said.

A person living with dementia who comes up against a dead end can experience heightened anxiety. In some cases, it can lead to the person going through the door to the other side in what’s called ‘eloping.’

“If you create an environment like The Village, that urge is diminished,” Hirota said. “They have options. They have a variety of destinations to go to.”

The Village is not the first dementia village to be built. It’s inspired by De Hogeweyk, the world’s first dementia village that opened in The Netherlands in 2009.

The concept is also gaining traction in Australia. Super fund HESTA’s Social Impact Investment Trust in partnership with Not For Profit operator Glenview, spent $19 million building Korongee, a dementia village in Tasmania which opened in July 2020.


Aged care provider HammondCare also opened a 70-place dementia care village at the Repat Health Precinct in Daw Park, Adelaide, in partnership with the Federal and State Government, last year.

Emmaus Village, operated by St Agnes’ Catholic Parish, Port Macquarie, in the NSW Mid North Coast, is another dementia village expected to open in early 2024.

A sign that providers are thinking outside the square when it comes to supporting people living with dementia.