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Brand new residential care center Booghuys brings 'warm care' and 'high-tech gadgets' together

1 February 2021

The city of Leuven invested heavily in a brand new building for its residential care center Booghuys. Small-scale living for residents with dementia is combined there with technological cleverness.

Stad Leuven

The new Booghuys offers a home to people suffering from dementia. They will live in a recognizable, homely and familiar environment with care tailored to their needs and with many high-tech gadgets that help them to live independently for longer. "With the Booghuys, we are offering something that is truly unique in Belgium and perhaps even beyond," says Bieke Verlinden, president of Zorg Leuven.

"The combination of technology and warm homely care, a place where they feel at home, ensures that our residents with dementia are once again able to do more than before. We are the first in Belgium and perhaps in the whole world to combine all these things into a new way of caring for the elderly."

"In Leuven, creative entrepreneurs and knowledge institutions are working together on groundbreaking innovation in healthcare", says mayor Ridouani on LinkedIn. "The realization of the residential care center Het Booghuys is a good example: a unique concept where high tech, warmth and care complement and strengthen each other, aiming to improve the lives of people with dementia. Thanks to sophisticated top technology, a lot of structure is introduced into the daily lives of the residents. For example, doors open and close automatically thanks to sensors and wristbands that are tailored to each resident, artificial lighting subtly changes color to indicate day and night rhythms and curtains close in time in the evening so that reflections cannot cause confusion."

Coming home to the residential care home

At the Booghuys, Zorg Leuven is resolutely opting for an innovative way of living and caring. Residential care center Booghuys consists of eight new homes, equipped with state-of-the-art technology and connected to each other, in the middle of a green oasis in the city. In total, there is room for 72 residents. Each home has 9 individual rooms for the residents, with a private bathroom with shower, a bed that can be adjusted in height, a private refrigerator and a comfortable seat that the resident can adjust as he or she wishes. Furthermore, the resident can decorate the room according to his or her own taste. The rooms connect to a communal kitchen and dining and living area where people can get together to cook, watch TV, play games ... "In this way, our residents are part of a small community in a safe residential environment, which allows us to provide truly customized care for people. Our staff members share the care for 'their home' and the people who live there with great enthusiasm and love," says director Els Ronsmans.


High-tech gadgets

The latest technologies in the field of care can therefore be found at Booghuys. Whereas for people with dementia, doors often have to remain closed for their safety, the residents of Booghuys have complete freedom of movement thanks to the system of 'living circles'. For each resident, a circle of living space is established on the basis of the care profile. That circle determines whether a resident should only move within his own home or can also go to other corridors and homes of the residential care center. The living circles ensure that residents are less likely to feel lost. Residents who are very independent can go wherever they want in the building and the surrounding park, or even leave the residential care center and go into the city.

"Thanks to the living circles, the residents will experience a sense of freedom," explains director Els Ronsmans. So how do the living circles work concretely? "The residents wear a wristband with bluetooth. The signal from the wristband automatically opens the doors and gates of their circles. The size of the circle is determined in consultation with the resident, his/her family and the care team. That is truly unique in Belgium, that we determine the size of the circle individually, per person. The system is also very flexible and moves along with the resident: does someone have a day that is not going well? Then we can very easily respond to that."

Smart lighting

The color of the light in the rooms, living space and kitchen is also adjustable. "Some people with dementia don't always feel the difference between day and night very well anymore. With the indoor lighting we help them to maintain a day and night rhythm. The building itself is also completely oriented to this and brings in as much natural light as possible into the living spaces. Where that wasn't fully possible, we can use the color of the light to mimic the day and night rhythms for better sleep."

Zorg Leuven is also deploying smart sensors to work with staff to ensure the safety of Booghuys residents. No cameras that store images, but 360-degree sensors that support the nursing and care staff in their tasks. This allows them to identify any unsafe situations and notify staff more quickly. "Suppose a resident has fallen and can't call, thanks to the sensors we are quickly informed. At the same time, it ensures a better night's sleep for the residents, because we no longer have to go into the room at regular intervals to check that everything is okay. We can just check remotely via the smart cameras."

"As with the other new technologies that we use in the Booghuys, we obviously handle this very carefully and the privacy of our residents is never compromised. The images are not stored, but are simply an extra pair of eyes for our staff," clarifies Didier L'Homme, director of facility services at Zorg Leuven. "We didn't just want to apply the latest technological gadgets, but selected technologies that can really support our residents with dementia in their lives and help our staff as much as possible to give each resident tailor-made care."


Green oasis

Residential care center Booghuys is located in the heart of Leuven on a site that is increasingly emerging as the 'care site' of Leuven. Right next to the Booghuys are residential care center Edouard Remy and the brand new daycare center DoRemy. You'll also find Zorg Leuven's home care services on the site.

To make a connection between these different places and between young and old, a beautiful park was laid out that is accessible to everyone during the day. "Extra green space in our inner city is an investment in our future. This green oasis in the city will be a place of meeting and rest where all generations can come together," says Bieke Verlinden. "Visits from the children to the Booghuys or vice versa will also be possible, because we know that older people stay physically and mentally healthy longer when there are children around."

Care tailored to people's needs

"We are all incredibly proud of what we have created here in just a few years," concludes chairman Bieke Verlinden. "Booghuys heralds a new era in the field of care homes: state-of-the-art technology combined with warm and small-scale care tailored to people's needs. The Booghuys will be a real home for people with dementia, where they can fully enjoy life surrounded by the best possible care."

Source: Zorg Leuven, LinkedIn - translated by Leuven MindGate
Pictures: De Standaard, Zorg Leuven

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