September is World Alzheimer’s Month. During this period we have actively been looking for ways that architects can support. When you have dementia, parts of the world become difficult to approach. With research, design and communication we hope to reflect and inspire others to think about how we can make a better world for people with dementia. A type of environment that remains pleasant or offers them support; dementia friendly environments.
The importance of progress in dementia-care is becoming more recognized. In June this year at the G20 summit, dementia was even directly mentioned as being one of the health priorities. The impact of dementia will rapidly become more apparent also in Hungary as the number of dementia cases correlate with the average life expectancy; which is steadily increasing. At this moment in time there are already 250.000 people with dementia in Hungary.
With a plan to learn from good examples we applied for the Young Architects Networking program of KÉK with the support of the nka. Which we are thankful to have won! This gave us the chance to visit our colleague in Prague, Anežka Příhodová who is an architect with experience with the concept of dementia friendly environments.
Together we visited different care homes and spoke with professionals in the Czech Republic. Next to that we took part in the conference ‘Prague Gerontology Days’. Here we gave a presentation about ‘Dementia friendly environment’ and organized a workshop about this topic.
Afterwards Anežka visited Hungary with us and we showed her the Ozory house in Gödöllő, which is a great case study for a Hungarian dementia friendly care home. We also went to the Skanzen and learnt about their dementia program. Both locations gave us plenty of inspiration.
Besides the visits in Hungary we organized a lecture series in KÉK – the contemporary architecture centre in Budapest. The keynote speaker was Jannnette Spiering, the founder of Hogeweyk Dementia Village in the Netherlands, who joined us via online video connection. Her presentation was followed by Anežka Příhodová & Ian Chaplin, Tamás Tatai, a family caretaker and volunteer at Dementia Friendly Mosonmagyaróvár and Szilvia Polyák, the site manager of the Ozory house. The event ended in an inspirational debate and gave us a lot of food for thought on how to continue with our common effort to make Hungary more dementia friendly.
For this opportunity we kindly want to thank the support of KÉK (Kortárs Építészeti Központ) and the National Cultural Fund of Hungary (NKA) for making this exchange possible and The Dutch embassy in Hungary for co-funding the Dementia Friendly Environment conference in Budapest. Further we want to thank the care-homes and professionals that took time out of their busy schedules to show us around and talk with us: Centrum Seňorina (Prague) link, Domov seniorů Novovysočanská (prague) link, Diakonie (Krabčice) link, Ozory ház (Gödöllő) link and the Skanzen link