BLOG – Green care farms providing 24-hour nursing home care for people with dementia

By Bram de Boer & dr. Hilde Verbeek (Department of Health Services Research, Maastricht University, the Netherlands).

In the Netherlands, green care farms are developing as an innovative type of nursing home for people with dementia. Green care farms combine agricultural activities with care activities and are aimed at allowing people to live the life they had before the admission into a care farm as much as possible. An example can be found in Kelpen-Oler, where a husband, the farmer, and wife, Anita, a nurse by background with experience in traditional nursing homes are the owners of a dairy farm. The physical environment offers many opportunities to incorporate activities into normal daily care practice and involves the presence of animals, plants, and other natural aspects. Residents have freedom to move around inside the farm and outside. A recent study, in which the farm participated, showed that residents of green care farms displayed a more active daily life, -were more socially active, came outside more often and were more actively engaged than residents in traditional nursing homes.2 The results indicated that green care farms can be a valuable addition to the existing spectrum of nursing homes. The demand for green care farms providing 24-hour nursing home care is rising, and Anita and her husband have now expanded their farm in such a way that they are able to provide care in four homes for 32 residents in total. We hope they will continue their efforts and continue being an example for innovating care in nursing homes!

1 de Boer B, Beerens H, Zwakhalen S, Tan F, Hamers J, Verbeek H. Daily lives of residents with dementia in nursing homes: development of the Maastricht electronic daily life observation tool. International psychogeriatrics, 2016, 28(8): 1333-43. doi:10.1017/S1041610216000478.

2 de Boer B, Beerens H, Zwakhalen S, Tan F, Hamers J, Verbeek H. Green Care Farms as Innovative Nursing Homes, Promoting Activities and Social Interaction for People with Dementia. Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, 2017, 18(1): 40-46. Doi: 10.1016/j.jamda.2016.10.013.