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Odensehouses (Odensehuizen) in general

Odensehuis: a place and a voice for people with dementia.
An Odensehuis is an information-, advice- and meeting place for people with (early) dementia, informal caregivers and their families and friends. There is room for meetings, support, activities and advice. An Odensehuis offers a voice to people with dementia and informal caregivers. It is a safe place in the heart of their own local community where they can feel ‘at home’. The Information service is intended for a broad range of interested target groups.

Quality of life as the main theme

The quality of life is central to an Odensehuis. This means total freedom for people with dementia and their families to continue their own lives as best as possible. In an Odensehuis support is offered based on the ‘human dimension’. The aim is that people with dementia can function independently as long as they wish with the support of informal caregivers, family and friends and, as much as possible, being able to participate in society in a pleasant and comfortable way. This encourages the use of the inherent talents of the people. An Odensehuis wants to offer perspective and prevent people with dementia and their informal carers from ending up in isolation.

Core values and organisation

The Odensehuis occupies a specific place in the field of support and care for people with dementia and informal caregivers. It is marked by the following core values, which are present in every Odensehouse.

Open character and easy access

People with dementia or memory complaints, informal caregivers, family and friends can walk in for advice, support and meeting. An Odensehuis is a walk-in center where people can feel secure and peaceful. A formal indication or a medical diagnosis is not necessary to participate. In the Odensehuis a lot of information is available for informal caregivers and people with dementia, in the form of shared experiences, books and magazines. The focus is on people with incipient dementia and young people with dementia because the Odensehuis offers this group a sound answer to the quest for support and presents a range of meaningful activities throughout the day.

Organisation of, for and by the participants

In an Odensehuis, the participants (people with dementia, informal carers and volunteers) carry a joint responsibility for the organization. An appeal is made to the self-organizing capacity that everyone possesses, to a greater or lesser extent. The people who regularly visit the Odensehuis all participate in one way or another in keeping the house alive and coordinate the activities. Each participant contributes with his /her abilities and talents to the ins and outs of the Odensehuis. The participants are the heart of the organization. Caregivers, volunteers and neighbours take an essential role in this. Volunteers make an important contribution to the daily routine. In a Odensehuis, at least one professional is present who has a coordinating, facilitating and supporting role in the organization. The professional carries the philosophy and core values of an Odensehuis and puts it into practice. An Odensehuis has a monthly meeting where everything is being discussed and evaluated. House ethics and guidelines are drawn up by the participants themselves.

Own direction

People with memory complaints and early dementia (supported by their informal caregiver) decide for themselves at what time, how often they want to visit and what they want to do. They have full control and freedom of choice. This also applies to informal caregivers and other family members. Nothing is necessary, everything is possible. In that sense, an Odensehuis is a ‘sanctuary’ where many things are possible.

Emancipation and empowerment

The Odensehuis offers people with (early) dementia a meaningful programme of activities throughout the day. As a result, their self-esteem increases. At the same time, the Odensehuis ensures that people with dementia are more visible in the neighborhood where they live and that other members of the community learn to recognize, understand and accept dementia. In that sense, an Odensehuis wants to contribute to dissolve the taboo around dementia and preventing people from being excluded from their local community.

Informal care support, respite care and network development

An Odensehuis also offers support to informal caregivers, among others in the form of fellowship groups. Informal carers share their knowledge and experience in dealing with people with dementia and support each other. Informal caregivers find support with fellow people and can participate in discussion groups. In this way they strengthen their own network.

Volunteers and neighbours

An Odensehuis is basically a volunteer organization. There are many volunteers active. Here too, the focus is on the deployment of the talents of a volunteer. Every Odensehuis has a volunteer policy and works with competency profiles for volunteers. Core competencies are cooperation, flexibility, customer orientation and personal leadership. A ‘VOG’ (‘legal proof of proper conduct’) is required for some activities. Every Odensehuis offers volunteers the opportunity to develop fully.

Innovation and cooperation

The Odensehuizen want to contribute to the development and innovation of work ethics in the general field of support and care for people with dementia and their informal caregivers. From the authenticity of the Odensehuis we work together with other organizations. Most Odensehuizen and their partners cooperate to build a dementia-friendly environment and try to keep innovating through the continuous development of various projects that challenge and inspire.

Social approach to dementia

The Odensehuis approach is in line with what Professor of Long-term Care and Dementia Anne-Mei The calls ‘the social approach’ to dementia.

National Platform of Odensehuizen

The Odensehuizen in The Netherlands have been united in a National Platform since June 2016. Members of the Platform recognize themselves in the working practices and core values of the ‘Advice and Meeting Center for people with dementia and their families’ in Odense (Denmark). That is where the name ‘Odensehuis’ originated. The translation of the Danish method is, among other things, integrated in the handbook and the workbook of Odensehuizen Amsterdam and Groningen. The National Platform Odensehuizen Netherlands wants to contribute to a dementia-friendly Netherlands.