Living a Whole Life

With the “Living a Whole Life” project, Kennisland has initiated a new, positive movement around growing old better – a movement of pioneers who all have an innovative vision for nursing care, who have different ideas about how it should be organised, and who also want to put those ideas into practice. Who knows, millions of people in the Netherlands could enjoy a happier old age thanks to your idea!

Life Long Living (Leven Lang Leven)

Illustrations made especially for Living a Whole Life (Leven Lang Leven)

Maker: Sue Doeksen


Illustrations made especially for Living a Whole Life (Leven Lang Leven)
2019 - 2022

We are living longer and longer, and the number of older people is growing. It is estimated that, by 2060, there will be almost five million people over 65 in the Netherlands. On average, we have around 22 years++We are getting older and olderA man who is sixty in 2040 will live for an average of 26 years. A sixty-year-old woman will live for almost 29 years. (Source: CBS Statistics Netherlands, 2018). to live after this. We want to spend the final years of our lives as meaningfully as possible, in good health and with control over our own lives. This may be at home, in a nursing home or in a completely different accommodation type. But how can we achieve this?

We know that we will have to live at home for longer, that more and more staff will be required in nursing care++Nursing careNursing care in various forms of living. This can be care in a nursing home, (informal) care at home, care in a residential service area or another form of intensive care in the immediate vicinity., and that the care we require will become increasingly complex. We are on the threshold of a major social challenge. In fact, we are already in the middle of it. How can we move on from the current, sometimes rather sombre predictions to imagining and implementing a new, optimistic, desirable future?It’s timeHow can we move on from the current, sometimes rather sombre predictions to imagining and implementing a new, optimistic, desirable future? for radical new ideas about growing old and being old comfortably – including when we require care and support.

Radical ideas for a happier old age

For most of us, old age is something rather remote. We prefer not to think about it too much. All the same, it would be better if we thought now about the time when we ourselves, or our loved ones, require care and support. With the Living a Whole Life project, Kennisland++VandejongVisual identity and campaign
The Vandejong creative agency is the co-initiator of Living a Whole Life, and has developed an appealing visual identity and activating campaign.
is embarking on a major quest for radical new ideas about growing old and being old comfortably, and will also test these ideas in practice. It’s about thinking differently and doing things differently in nursing care. With
Living a Whole Life, we initiated a positive movement around growing old, based on the idea that the final chapter of our lives also has value. We start with the capacity of older peopleWe appeal to everyone who wants to contribute to one of the most important social challenges of our time. themselves, of healthcare professionals, informal carers, of everyone who wishes to contribute to one of the most important social challenges of our time. Because after all, we will all grow old. How do we want to – and how can we – grow old well? And what does this demand of care institutions, politics and society at large?

We’re building a network of ambassadors and influencers who will help to put topics on the agenda, to open closed doors, to forge relevant coalitions and deploy their influence and expertise. We will share all lessons, inspiration and results at

Value, quality and space for experiment

There is an urgent need to organiseEveryone with a good idea had the opportunity to really put it into practice. The most promising ideas among the submissions have been selected for participation in a pioneers’ programme. nursing care differently, because the care system is under enormous pressure. Everyone wants elderly care to be more effective, efficient and also more focused on the individual, with fewer rules and the needs of people put first. The government wants us to live independently for longer. However, by the time we require nursing care, because we are no longer able to live at home, we often have very substantial care needs. This means the transition from living at home to a nursing home is a major change. On paper, the new system++The systemAs set out in the Elderly Care Pact, and laws such as the WLZ (Long-term Care Act) and WMO (Social Support Act) etc. is much more efficient and effective than in practice.

Carrying on in the same way as before appears to be unsustainable. We see a future in which growing old is valued++Revalue old agePhilosopher Joep Dohmen: “As we grow old, we can ripen and deepen further, we can become more who we are. Let us revalue old age: it is the richest phase of our lives.”, in which conversations about quality of life play a leading role (instead of rigid protocols) and in which there is enough space for experiment. An innovative vision for the final phase of our lives is required, and we need to think in a fundamentally different way++Other cultures “Growing old and being old” is experienced differently in different cultures. In Ghana, they use the verb “nyin”, which means “growing”, for “becoming old”. In their language, they say “I have grown” instead of “I am old”. Growing has positive connotations, you learn and you become wiser. In this way, it also emphasises the quality and appreciation of the experience of “being old”. You take on another position, because you have more life experience. about the care and support required to make a high quality of life possible. 

We asked everyone: how do you want to grow old?

Via a national challenge++KL challengesSince 2002, KL has organised various challenges. These offer innovators and society a platform where we can work together on growth, innovation and knowledge exchange. One example is the challenge for pioneering teachers in education. , we called on everyone++Don’t speak Dutch?You can still apply! However, we do recommend that you find a Dutch partner to translate everything for you, as the application needs to be written in Dutch. Also, we aim to reach non-native inhabitants of the Netherlands through our ambassadors and jury members.’ to submit an innovative idea or smart plan for living a whole life via Because life doesn’t stop when you grow old, and it’s better to think about your old age now. We received over a hundred submissions. Large and small ideas, fantasies, plans that were already being developed or even partially realised. There turned out to be a wealth of innovation capacity and a lot of enthusiasm to tinker with the existing (healthcare) system.There turned out to be a wealth of innovation capacity and a lot of enthusiasm to tinker with the existing (healthcare) system. Ideas about meaning, different ways of living, staying socially active, sharing stories, vitality, and much more. From wandering around the Louvre through VR glasses to going out in your own neighborhood to record a film or podcast. After a thorough jury deliberation, the twelve most promising ideas were selected for a pioneer program. Over the past year, these pioneers were able to bring their ideas to fruition with the help of coaching, tools, development budget and guidance, and on January 15, 2021, they announced their plans during the Living a Whole Life event.

No ending, but a new beginning

We are not stopping! We believe there are many more good ideas to discover. And what better place to look for this than in healthcare itself? Living a Whole Life will continue to pioneer in 2021; this time with healthcare professionals and their organisations. They will renew care from within the system. Perhaps by adopting an initiative from one of the twelve pioneers. We will set up a campaign in various healthcare institutions and call on everyone within that institution to submit their best idea; the healthcare professional, district nurse, general practitioner, informal caregiver, geriatrician, manager, cook, cleaner, hostess; everyone can participate. Here too, the most promising institutions are selected for a pioneer program in which the ideas are brought to fruition. Keep an eye on or follow the newsletter to stay informed about the selected healthcare institutions and their ideas!

The Corona crisis as a driving force

Living a Whole Life is about growing old well. That might feel very strange now, because many elderly people are extra vulnerable right now and acute care is paramount at the moment. But especially in these uncertain times, it is important that we keep looking ahead. The coronavirus crisis sparked a discussion about how we deal with the elderly in our society. The crisis makes it very clear; we need new perspectives and ideas to make ‘aging’ in our society better and more enjoyable in a way that is sustainable. Perhaps a number of plans will be worked out differently in this new reality. But we know one thing for sure: they are needed more than ever before. So we keep the movement going, keep the platform alive and continue to build a network of inspiring pioneers in nursing care.

You can also follow Living a Whole LIfe via:


Living a Whole Life is sponsored by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport.


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Learning communities

for teachers, social innovators, leaders in culture

Learning communities

We learn from books, from experts, from leaders in the field, but we learn the most from practice, from stories, experiences, perspectives and insights. This is why KL builds sustainable learning communities, based on mutual trust and openness. This involves bringing together everyone connected with a social problem, because this is the only way to identify the best opportunities for innovation and progress. This includes projects in education, such as InnovationImpulse Education and the Teachers’ Development Fund, social innovation, such as the Hivos Learning Community, and in culture, such as Leadership in Culture.

Pioneer programmes

for teachers, innovators in general

Pioneer programmes

Kennisland believes you can learn to be a pioneer, and that potential pioneers who can benefit from support and connections can be found at every level of society. In 2002, Kennisland launched the Digital Pioneers programme for social internet pioneers. In 2008, Kennisland began the Education Pioneers (now known as the Teachers’ Development Fund (Leraren Ontwikkel Fonds, LOF)) programme, to allow teachers themselves to take the initiative in educational innovation again. Kennisland has also set up various pioneer programmes within organisations, and supported pioneers who were selected via challenges, for example pioneers in health care in Living a Whole Life.


for inhabitants, innovators, unusual suspects


A challenge (contest) – usually linked to specific policy goals, and combined with a support programme – delivers a rich variety of innovative ideas and initiatives from across society: from residents, local authorities, business and education to social organisations. It is an instrument for crowdsourcing innovation, which first and foremost allows you to reach the unusual suspects. Policy and practice come together in concrete initiatives. Examples of challenges we have developed include a challenge for new school concepts in Amsterdam, a challenge to find and support radical innovators in the Netherlands, and the annual European Social Innovation Competition (EUSIC) for social innovators across Europe.

Deze tekst heeft een Creative Commons Naamsvermelding-licentie (CC BY) en is gekopieerd van de Kennisland-website. Ga voor de volledige versie met afbeeldingen, streamers en noten naar

This text has a Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) and has been copied from the Kennisland website. For a full version with images, streamers and notes go to