Dementia among elderly is rising and the number of nursing homes will be doubled in 2040. This is a result of the ageing population and shortage in healthcare seen in many Western countries. The pressure on elderly care organizations will inevitably increase in the coming years. How are Dutch elderly care organizations using innovation to deal with these challenges?
In the Netherlands, elderly care organization ‘tanteLouise’ is one of the front runners in innovation. tanteLouise provides care to approximately 1,100 clients in nursing homes and care centers and 3,000 clients in home care. The care is delivered by a total of 1,800 employees and 850 volunteers.
Jan-Kees van Wijnen, board member at tanteLouise and member of MedScaler’s Innovators Club, is convinced that innovation is necessary to maintain the quality of care in the future. This often requires organizations to actively look for opportunities both nationally and internationally. Luckily, innovation is rooted in the DNA of tanteLouise as their vision on adopting new solutions is based on three pillars. Firstly, a new solution supports the quality of care, secondly it saves labor, and lastly it contributes to reducing healthcare costs. If these requirements are met, an innovation becomes interesting for their organization.
Welcoming innovation at tanteLouise
At tanteLouise, innovations are introduced in many ways. By participating in national and international networks, the organization is able to learn from other countries and stay up to date on the latest developments in the elderly care market worldwide. Jan-Kees van Wijnen explained: “Two years ago we travelled with Minister of Health Hugo de Jonge to China, where they already have a relatively large population of frail elderly compared to the Netherlands. We visited this country to see how the Chinese provide care when the elderly population is so large. Those ideas can inspire us and help us to take the next step. Nevertheless, sometimes it can just be a simple article about a promising innovation which catches your attention.”
How do you innovate?
TanteLouise’s secret recipe to innovate successfully is to use the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle. This methodology starts with making innovation advisors and board members enthusiastic. The next step is to initiate internal pilots. In the check phase, the organization also conducts scientific research to validate the clinical benefits of the product. According to Jan-Kees: “If you go through this cycle, you do not only perform a successful pilot, but you also work towards a scalable solution. Implementing innovations requires coordination from A to Z.”
With the challenges ahead, there is no time to reinvent the wheel in elderly care. TanteLouise recognized the importance of exchanging valuable information about innovative solutions and their pilots with other care organizations and networks in the Netherlands. That is why they initiated ‘Anders werken in de zorg’ – an online platform enabling partner organizations to share valuable knowledge about successful innovations.
MedScaler and tanteLouise
Jan-Kees says he chose to be part of the MedScaler Innovators Club to stay informed on new initiatives that could be interesting for tanteLouise. Jan-Kees adds: “Especially staying up to date on foreign innovations is beneficial for us. That’s how we can strengthen each other.”
“It is great to see that you can achieve improvements with innovation” says Jan-Kees. The most impressive innovation he has seen throughout the past years is the hip airbag ‘Wolk’. It is a simple solution that hits all the requirement placed by tanteLouise. “Hip fractures are not only costly for elderly care organizations but also for the rest of the healthcare system. Reducing hip fractures by 80% prevents many other complications. Besides saving pain for the patient, it saves time and costs. These are typical innovations where you can guarantee results with”, Jan-Kees explains.
Furthermore, research in healthcare shows that time is lost on searching for information, colleagues or resources such as a patient hoist. In the future, Jan-Kees would like to see an integrated mobile solution that could help organizations to quickly find people, material and information in an easy and accessible way.
At MedScaler we are happy that tanteLouise is part of the Innovators Club and excited to think together about innovative solutions to meet the challenges of the future.
Cover image: Tonny Presser / tanteLouise