“What is gerontology?” you might ask. Gerontology is the study of human aging, its causes and ways to combat it (rejuvenation). A more than relevant topic, wouldn’t you say? Experts in the Netherlands are currently leading the way in this field. Come along as we discover the new horizons of future healthcare!
On the first day of our tour, we visited Borrendamme Аllevo where a manager gave a presentation called Live with Care, after which we visited psychogeriatric patients in small groups and reviewed different care methods with a local ergotherapist.
Cornelia Allévo is a care home in Zierikzee that offers individual approach to each patient, a unique treatment and training program, assisted living, rehabilitation, expert assistance, nutrition consultation, etc. On-site facilities include shops, a restaurant, a hairdresser’s and other amenities that make a patient’s stay at Cornelia Allévo more comfortable.
Allévo covers two islands and 2,000 home care clients, but there are only 400 employees who observe, support and assist patients with the aspects of living they find the most difficult, unlocking each person’s potential. Two times a year, the patients gather together with their relatives for family evenings.
Since many patients face aging-induced behavioural problems, depression or other disorders, the freedom dementia patients have is limited according to safety levels. Additional precautionary measures are taken such as badges and signs on ward doors.
Interestingly, the healthcare system in the Netherlands has many degrees of medical qualification. Even the cleaning and technical staff are required to have medical knowledge to work at such facilities. Nurses have even more degrees that regulate their qualification and functions.
On this day, the group left Zierikzee and travelled to the historic city of Amersfoort. Jos de Blok, the founder and CEO of Buurtzorg, told us of the history of his organisation and showed us how it operates in the Netherlands.
After our meeting with Jos, we visited patients in Amersfoort, spoke to a family doctor, stopped by at a day-care centre, learned everything there is to know about the IT sector (Buurtzorg has its own IT support system but lacks any strategic planning policy) as well as about corporate culture and a nurse’s role in self-managing companies.
Incidentally, one of the most important skills nurses at Buurtzorg have is teaching a patient’s family special care-giving methods. Patient and nurse can be very close. Usually, they spend many years together, sometimes until the very end when a healthcare worker helps a patient to pass away peacefully.
*(Some of the content was taken from the book Reinventing Organisations by Frederic Laloux)
In the relationship between the patient and the doctor, a miracle either happens or it does not. A mechanical approach to service leaves no room for miracles. To be able to help patients, a healthcare worker has to be respected as a professional. Give them freedom, and they will live up to your expectations. The first thing a Buurtzorg employee does when he or she comes to a new client’s house is sitting down for a cup of coffee. Healthcare workers help patients create a support network, to feel less lonely and dependent on others. For example, they often help elderly patients and their children to learn how to be around each other during illness. It is only natural that healthcare workers help patients to get to know their neighbours so that they could build their support network.
As the saying goes, “growing old is no fun,” and one of the saddest things that await a person in their twilight years is dementia. But what kind of disease is it?
Dementia is a progressive decline in cognitive abilities, an ailment that is commonly believed to go hand in hand with old age. Dementia makes those afflicted lose their practical skills and ability to perform most common actions. The patients’ memory and cogitation are impaired.
Hogewey is a specialized medical facility for the elderly with dementia. It is actually a village (or a small town) with a town square, a supermarket, a hairdresser’s, a theatre, a pub, a restaurant and twenty-three houses. The style of each house reflects the preferences of six to seven people who live there
Eloy van Hal is Senior Managing Consultant at De Hogeweyk, a specialized medical facility for the elderly with dementia. He was born in Maastricht in 1967. Eloy van Hal has been working in the healthcare sector since 1997. Since 2002, he has been on the De Hogeweyk Management Board as project manager for De Hogeweyk.
Eloy also advises organisations and governments on various projects in the areas of housing, social welfare and care, construction and, of course, the Hogeweyk concept. He studied consumer science at Wageningen University and production management at Hogeschool Zuyd.
By FastForward tradition, our visit to the Netherlands ended with a guided tour of the country’s capital.
Beautiful Amsterdam fascinated us not only with its style, views and landscapes, but also with interesting content, as there are many museums here, including the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Rembrandt House Museum, and Anne Frank House. Additionally, this city is famous for its world-class symphony orchestra. All aesthetic requests of the tour participants were satisfied.
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On our tour of Germany, we visited the most famous food exhibition, the Green Week, as well as numerous retail chains and enterprises operating in various interesting industries. We have a lot to learn. We must take the best and use it. Thank you, FastForward, for your careful approach to creating this tour.
We visited several retail stores in Germany, as well as manufacturing facilities. What we liked the most about the stores we visited was the high quality standards of German retail. Retailers know how to sell high-quality goods at affordable prices, and this is probably the main secret of Germany's retail success. As for production, we were inspired by some of the small family businesses we saw.