The culture that is Swiss?

by on January 24, 2012 at 8:55 am in Medicine | Permalink

The newly approved €20m (£17m) housing project is to be built next to the Swiss village of Wiedlisbach near Bern and will provide sheltered accommodation and care for 150 elderly dementia patients in 23 purpose-built 1950s-style houses. The homes will be deliberately designed to recreate the atmosphere of times past.

The scheme’s promoters said there will be no closed doors and residents will be free to move about. To reinforce an atmosphere of normality, the carers will dress as gardeners, hairdressers and shop assistants. The only catch is that Wiedlisbach’s inhabitants will not be allowed to leave the village.

There is more here, and the pointer is from @laurenzcollins.

1 Ken B January 24, 2012 at 9:17 am

I am not a number, I am a free man!

2 Ted Craig January 24, 2012 at 9:38 am


3 David Pinto January 24, 2012 at 10:14 am

That’s the first thing I thought of as well. I wonder if they have a giant inflatable ball that herds people back to their houses?

4 Hasdrubal January 24, 2012 at 11:59 am

I was thinking “The Truman Show” might be a more apt metaphor. This is an eerily life imitates art story.

5 gwern January 24, 2012 at 3:13 pm

Came here for _Prisoner_ jokes. Was not disappointed.

6 Sonic Charmer January 24, 2012 at 9:17 am

…there will be no closed doors and residents will be free to move about. To reinforce an atmosphere of normality, the carers will dress as gardeners, hairdressers and shop assistants. The only catch is that Wiedlisbach’s inhabitants will not be allowed to leave the village.

I would suggest giving the uniforms a nautical theme, and numbering the residents.

7 Bill January 24, 2012 at 9:19 am

Are you sure that not living there already.

8 Ken B January 24, 2012 at 9:19 am

@Sonic Charmer: Great minds.

9 Rahul January 24, 2012 at 9:30 am

Reminds me of the good German movie “Goodbye Lenin”….

10 kiwi dave January 24, 2012 at 10:09 am

Me too. Would not be at all surprised if that was the inspiration.

11 Rahul January 24, 2012 at 10:18 am

Although a recreation of 1950-Germany may not be a very pleasant place.

12 JWatts January 24, 2012 at 5:19 pm

Well it’s probably much better than a re-creation of 1940-Germany 😉

13 Helge January 25, 2012 at 7:02 am

They are recreating 1950-Switzerland, which is quite different.

14 EB Hansen January 24, 2012 at 9:39 am

I think this is a very interesting idea. Between this and the Dutch project we might be able to see if this really can improve quality of life for those with dementia. While the cost of building such facilities may be fairly high, if it significantly reduces the stress they experience, it might even reduce the overall level of spending on the patients (or increase it if they live longer).

If the outcomes look good maybe a study with controls receiving high quality normal care?

(I admit the Prisoner reference occurred to me as well. I also recall some SF short stories about helping the patients, but the “workers” were either robots or the sufferers were placed in high quality VR environments).

15 Patricia Mathews January 24, 2012 at 10:00 am

I have already suggested that a friend turn this into a story for Analog sf. The kind where you wonder if you’re living in an illusion or not. And I also wonder if Twilight Zone hadn’t already done this one?

16 Dan Weber January 24, 2012 at 11:03 am

I very much though of Twilight Zone. Maybe because I saw “The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street” recently.

17 Nick_L January 24, 2012 at 10:15 am

I wonder if there’s an argument for creating something similar for those with political aspirations?

18 Scott J January 25, 2012 at 12:50 pm

I have often had an idea where the main legislative body is held in a bubble where all the news is 2 years behind. They do their legislating, and there is another smaller body in the “real time” that has only veto power. So with 2 years of hindsight any of the knee-jerk, feel-good legislation is laughed off and vetoed. “Hahah, could you imagine if we had done that!? Damn would we feel stupid now.”

19 doctorpat January 27, 2012 at 12:01 am

Ideally, the veto body is given news from two years AHEAD.

20 Seth January 24, 2012 at 10:20 am

Sounds like the TV show LOST.

21 Careless January 24, 2012 at 11:49 am

Only if they’re beating and killing each other for no good reason

22 Urso January 24, 2012 at 10:25 am

In terms of literary allusions, this was also (more or less) the plot of one of the chapters in “The Martian Chronicles” as well as that M Night Shamalan movie nobody went to.

23 dead serious January 24, 2012 at 10:53 am

An imaginary world frozen in the 1950s?

American Republicans will be fighting tooth and nail for admission.

24 Slocum January 24, 2012 at 11:30 am

Nah — that kind of nostalgia is for progressives now. That golden era of picket fences, strong unions and stay-at-home-moms supported by a husband with a good factory job:

25 NAME REDACTED January 24, 2012 at 12:42 pm


26 dead serious January 24, 2012 at 1:29 pm

Nah, I’m thinking liquid lunches, banging the secretary and no uppity minorities to deal with. Don Draper style.

Or as today’s Republican would call it: “a return to family values.”

27 JWatts January 24, 2012 at 1:52 pm


28 JWatts January 24, 2012 at 1:53 pm

Forgot to place a context reference so ignore the above.

“Nah — that kind of nostalgia is for progressives now.”


29 Dan January 24, 2012 at 2:39 pm

It’s the Dems whose 1950’s mentality says you ought to be able to finish high school, get a job at the local plant, and stay there until you retire, turning out the same product for decades.

30 Willitts January 24, 2012 at 10:59 am

I saw this in a film by M. Night Shyamalan.

31 Rahul January 24, 2012 at 11:00 am

“The Village”?

32 Dan Weber January 24, 2012 at 11:04 am

No, Avatar The Last Airbender.

33 londenio January 24, 2012 at 11:49 am

Spoiler alert?

34 Rahul January 24, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Hard to spoil a movie that got one star from Roger Ebert and a “rotten” from Rotten Tomatoes.

35 doctorpat January 27, 2012 at 12:03 am

The big problem is that the audience knew it was a movie by M. Night Shyamalan. The big reveal at the end isn’t a big surprise if you know something like that is inevitable.

36 magicdufflepud January 24, 2012 at 11:11 am

On the other hand, it’s not really all that Swiss to construct something with a shelf life of just a decade. What happens when people start pining for the 70s? Or has anyone ever pined for the 70s?

37 JWatts January 24, 2012 at 1:56 pm

I think that’s solved by applying shag carpeting and ugly wall paper to the 1950’s houses. Ideally in Avocado Green, Harvest Gold, or Coppertone. Bonus points for covering over hardwood floors with cheap linoleum.

38 Right Wing-nut January 24, 2012 at 2:24 pm

Right before they start pining for the fiords.

39 Martin January 24, 2012 at 1:20 pm

We were fortunate to achieve something like this–without so much play-acting–when we placed my mother in assisted living in Washington DC for the last years of her life about 10 years ago. The facility was in a converted pre-World War II apartment house, similar to ones my mother had lived in until my family moved to the suburbs in the mid-1950s. Even better, it was located a block from a walkable neighborhood shopping strip that my mother had frequented most of her adult life, with a streetscape that changed only moderately from 1940 or so through the present. The facility was good about letting not-too-demented residents go out on their own; and the local Starbucks and at least some merchants were willing to have the facility residents do a little shopping and a lot of hanging out.

40 Urstoff January 24, 2012 at 5:12 pm

It’s not so much Swiss as it is a large-scale take on already tested ways to improve the quality of life (and ease of care) of the demented elderly.

41 doctorpat January 27, 2012 at 12:06 am

It’s actually just a prototype for what all of Europe is going to be like in 30 years. All those demented oldies who refuse to listen to anything more modern than Kylie Minogue or MC Hammer. “Ah, that’s REAL music right there…”

42 john malpas January 24, 2012 at 7:04 pm

Why have you got to be demented to be an inmate. It sounds rather comfy. No children or youf – willing servants – what more could you want.

43 TallDave January 24, 2012 at 10:29 pm

Dammit, is this why my gardener keeps dragging me back home? I wondered what the hell was going on.

44 Highgamma January 27, 2012 at 12:07 am

I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed … uh, you look like a nice young man. Fetch me a pop.

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