Research by the Netherlands Institute for Social Research (Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau, SCP) shows that citizens believe healthcare and care for the elderly should be the top priority for politicians in The Hague. The changes to the care system and cuts in particular are of great concern to many people, both inside and outside the care sector. People who need care are staying at home longer, while nursing homes offer only complex care that cannot be provided at home. There is much discussion about the quality of care, administrative red tape, overburdening of informal carers, staff shortages, loneliness and the general image of the sector. With an ++ageing populationOn 1 January 2016, there were almost 3.1 million elderly people (65 years and over) in the Netherlands. This corresponds to 18% of the total population. The phenomenon of “double ageing” is also ongoing. This refers to the fact that the proportion of those over 80 within the 65-plus group is increasing. ahead of us and the associated increasing demand for care, it is becoming more urgent to think about what is necessary to organise good care and support now and in the future. This applies to people in nursing homes, but also in the community.
Sooner or later, everyone will require care or support for themselves or someone close to them. We expect this care to fit our personal needs and circumstances. This sounds logical, but another reality can be observed in practice. All too often, policy is made, or care organised, without the person concerned having had any say in the matter. This results in standard solutions, generic provisionAll too often, care is organised without the person concerned having had any say in the matter. and protocols, but this is not the way to bring care closer to people. However, in a hard-working sector where taking risks can have major consequences, it’s not easy to innovate. This is even more so when ++Doing more with lessSince 1 January 2015, municipalities have been responsible for implementing the Jeugdwet (Youth Act), Wmo (Social Support Act) 2015 and the Participatiewet (Participation Act). This means that municipalities have more new responsibilities. At the same time, they have experienced major cuts.
is the key message. The attention of politicians and the media often focuses on incidents, and policy makers and managers are expected to act quickly, while change sometimes requires a patient, long-term approach.
More than the basics
Taking a different approach to innovation is an urgent necessity. Through improvement programmes, the system is continuously optimised and the quality of care improved. But optimisation alone is not enough. The complexity of care issues means that we need to look at, and work on, innovation in care in a different way. For example, we can begin with the question of what better outcomes might be – and for whom? How would you like to grow old yourself? And how might we imagine a care system that facilitates this? The phrase “the client is key”, which is heard so often that it has almost become a cliché, can become more meaningful if we start to work out “how”. We want to find out what happens when care really connects with the person who needs it.We want to find out what happens when care really connects with the person who needs it. Because innovation is much more than making sure the basics are in order and optimising the existing system.
Our vision for innovation in care is therefore:
- That we should focus on people and their values, what they find important and what they need to be able to continue feeling as healthy as possible. This means they can give meaning to their lives and can contribute to society in their own way. At the same time, we must recognise vulnerability. Care and support needs can vary from person to person. As such, much more than care alone contributes to a meaningful life. The fragmented funding structure, the complex care system and protocols are subordinate to a meaningful life. Optimal control of one’s own life, in particular for vulnerable people, requires the correct combination of self-care, care for each other and adequate professional treatment and care.
- That we must make much more use of the experiences and ideas of people who require care, and we must see their environment as the most important source of information and inspiration for managers and policy makers.
- That trust in responsible professional behaviour should once again come before trust in standards. This means that professionals learn with and from each other, both within the care environment and beyond.
- That the need for accountability should not create pressure, but should instead create space – a basis of trust – in which to work, learn and innovate responsiblyInnovation is much more than making sure the basics are in order and optimising the existing system..
- That there should be space and attention for important connections between the care sector, education, culture and business. Care is not an island!
- That care education must be brought closer to practice, since this offers plenty of starting points for learning.
New ways of innovation
We will begin with the project ++De Grijstijd (The Greyhood)In project ‘De Grijstijd’ innovative ideas lead to improvement in life of elderly people who need care.. In this project, carried out in partnership with the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (Volksgezondheid, Welzijn en Sport, VWS) and the Vandejong creative agency, we will search for innovative ideas worthy of further investigation and development. This includes ideas from elderly people themselves, from people in the care sector (what happens if you tackle bottlenecks at the source?), but certainly also from people and organisations outside the system. Kennisland works together with people who require care, and those around them, to help them live meaningful lives. Kennisland works together with people who require care, and those around them, to help them live meaningful lives. Together with professionals, and the rest of society, we experiment with new ways of thinking about innovation in care, but most of all to also develop good initiatives.
Kennisland is also part of the framework agreement with the Ministry, entitled “A different way of tackling complex social problems”. In the coming years, together with four other agencies and the Ministry, we will search for ways of tackling increasing complexity in different ways, more smartly and more effectively.
Kennisland has a great deal of experience in areas such as education and social innovation. For the topic of care, we can draw upon our extensive experience with research approaches, challenges, experiments and innovative organisational structures:
- Using instruments such as challenges and accelerator programmes. With these tools, we offer innovators in society a platform and work together with them to promote growth, innovation and knowledge exchange.
- Offering space for research and experiments with labs. These labs make complex issues understandable by bringing together the perspectives of citizens, professionals and policy makers and involving these groups in carrying out research, analysis and in developing problem-solving capacity.
- Developing and trying out new change strategies, learning and evaluation methods and organisational structures and promoting what works.
- Setting up learning networks such as Slimmernetwerk (Smarter network) and Innovatie Impuls Onderwijs (Innovation Impulse Education), in which theories and ideas about innovation can be refined and shared.
Based on this knowledge and experience, Kennisland continues to develop effective approaches to complex social problems – of which there will be many in the care system in the years to come.
More information: Joan Veldhuizen (firstname.lastname@example.org)