Dutch Approach to Care
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Buurtzorg: The Dutch Approach to Care

Over in the Netherlands, the Dutch take a slightly different approach to care to that of what we may be used to.

A special type of care

Buurtzorg, as it is referred to in the country, is a special type of care model that aims to allow the elderly to live more independently and allow nurses to be freer in terms of how this care is provided.

The system works by having a single nurse care for an individual and their family, rather than have different nurses throughout their care. This is done to promote a relationship between the individual and the nurse, which can greatly help the person in the long run alongside any necessary care they require.

Other key parts of the system include that the nurse must spend at least 61% of their time in direct contact with their client.

All nurses are also self-reliant; there are no managers to report to.

The overall idea is to provide care that is more respectful of the people requiring aid, and that this aid is given in a relaxed unrushed manner.

History of the system

The system was founded back in 2006, in a small town in eastern Netherland, known as Alemo.

Nurse Jos De Block and his peers were unhappy at how the current care system was working in their country, particularly in how little time was given to each individual needing care.

To combat the problem, De Block and many other nurses created a number of small nursing management teams themselves which would provide the type of care they had envisioned, one that focuses on spending quality time with individuals and valuing independence. In this sense, the system is perhaps most similar to that of home care.

As more nurses got involved, the project spread, eventually creating the system known as Buurtzorg that the Netherlands is well known for today.

Implementation around the world

Due to its success in the Netherlands, many other countries have attempted to replicate the model, including Sweden, Germany, Austria, Britain, Japan, China, Taiwan, South Korea and the United States.

However, not all countries have had the same success as the Netherlands. Many experts say this is due to some cultures not being suitable for this specific type of care.

Buurtzorg works through payments by health insurance companies, which is very different to where state healthcare systems are the norm in countries like Britain.

There is also the issue that Buurtzorg is an expensive type of care due to the number of contact hours provided.

However, De Blok believes that the system can work elsewhere If the necessary time and effort is given to making it work:

“What I see in a lot of countries is that systems are increasingly complicated and frustrations are becoming worse and worse,” he said.

“I want to show that it’s easy to change.”

And when asked about his model 11 years on, De Blok seemed happy in what he had achieved:

“I’m not interested in money,” he said. “I see so many people searching for a new way of doing things in all the places I visit. It’s all about creating something different from the bottom up.”

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