The future of care at BrabantZorg – In conversation with Roger Otto

The future of care at BrabantZorg – In conversation with Roger Otto
The future of care at BrabantZorg – In conversation with Roger Otto


Rutger van Wijk interviews Roger Otto, board member at BrabantZorg

From 35 locations in Northeast Brabant and with 10,000 employees and volunteers, BrabantZorg offers comprehensive elderly care services at clients’ homes and at their care facilities. The core values of attention, reliability and togetherness are central to everything that Brabantzorg does. Rutger van Wijk (Care Partner at Hospitality Group) talks with Roger Otto (member of the BrabantZorg Executive Board) about the developments in care and the future of BrabantZorg.

Every day as pleasant as possible

Roger Otto opens the conversation with their core motto ‘Every day as pleasant as possible’ and what that means for the target groups of BrabantZorg. Within the elderly population there is a variation of generations and target groups. The biggest difference is between pre-war and post-war elderly people. The most striking aspect is the degree of desired control. Especially the younger generation of elderly take more control of their own lives and have the will to make a joint effort. They also have more demands and wishes regarding the details of the service provision, they want to maintain their lifestyle and continue to pursue their interests.

Every day as pleasant as possible therefore means that we look at the individual every day and do not want to lapse into a routine. We look very closely at what a person can and wants to do, and not only tailor our work to the client’s care requirement, but also to the type of person. In doing so, we also use the talents within our teams. We have examples where this is practice already, in other places we are still in the process of implementing this. For example, in the case of household care, we sit down with the clients and determine together what they wish and are able to do themselves. Interestingly, a preparatory worker does this during the first four weeks to get an idea of the need and to assess which type of care worker would suit the client best. The first experiences with this approach are very good.

Together as a team

We now find that it is very attractive to make our teams diverse and that this also offers opportunities in the tight labour market. The activities at our locations are very diverse, and this diversity of activities is actually our criterion for recruiting nowadays. For example, we are looking for mood creators. Mood creators create a good atmosphere in the living rooms, for instance turning cooking together with the clients into a real experience, while somebody else administers the medication. This gives many more opportunities to attract employees on the basis of their talents.

It means that we are cutting across divisions and that we are increasingly combining FM and care tasks. Or as Roger puts it: we are actually changing from a location-specific to a client-specific approach. We work around the client as a team. Volunteers also play a very important role in this.

Lifestyle-related living

In conjunction with this we find that more and more of our clients are not only looking for a place at BrabantZorg, but also for a place with like-minded people. If we look at small-scale living, we may have, say, eight clients who are functioning very happily together. Now if two people leave the group, the dynamics can suddenly be very different. This certainly is a challenge for the housing environment. It means that we have to organise housing differently, as well as the networks around it. BrabantZorg has 35 locations with very many places where we provide our services in-house. And there are waiting lists. We are trying hard to de-institutionalise and to organise or address networks outside our care facilities.

Some facilities, for example, are situated in the middle of nature and others right in the city centre. In future we will work towards lifestyle-related living and match clients on this basis. In addition, we will work with society to see how we can support all initiatives, such as living together in retirement courtyards. The development is moving towards a hybrid system. This will work out differently in a city or a village, but we welcome all new initiatives, and we will provide care support, says Roger.

Hospital care, any place, anytime

Another development is that we are working with hospitals to see whether people can receive monitoring from us, for example in the event of lung and heart complaints. In that case, the hospital won’t do that anymore. Our call service partner plays an important role in this. The nice thing is that we work with hospitals to see how we can best support our clients, for example with diabetes. This development of looking at healthcare as part of a team is really taking off.

Clients and patients know better than anyone who they want to be helped by and with what. We are still thinking in terms of institutions, but that’s really going to change. In the longer term there will be much more control and it will be much easier to obtain care support. In the end it’s all about trust. Care provision will be any place, anytime.

Flexibility and technology

Our biggest challenge is to continue to make the care sector more flexible and to match this with clients and their preferred timeframe. How do we make the Netherlands realise that (home) care is scarce and how do we learn to deal with this in such a way that as many clients as possible can be helped? Networked solutions will be crucial in this respect. For example, we are involved in the development of an app that works similar to Uber. With artificial intelligence, we know at what time a client wants to get up. Clients can indicate what they want, which request is then matched to a care worker, while we also know where that care worker is at that moment. If you have this kind of technology and people start having confidence in it, you automatically get interaction. Also when – occasionally – the care is not needed or is provided by family members. In the future, we hope to be able to help more people with the same number of people. And that will be badly needed in the future.

Technology can help us a great deal further in terms of prevention, so that we can prevent care-requiring situations from arising. Technology provides data that allow us to carry out the interventions more effectively and with greater focus, which will result in savings. Costs will shift from labour to technology.

Housing and FM

When we talk about these developments in relation to FM and housing, Roger primarily indicates that we need to move away from large-scale buildings with very extensive public areas and restaurants. People very much prefer to return to smaller-scale and domestic environments. This means that we will be trying to find ways for setting up small neighbourhood centres. It will allow people to stay in their own environment and we can support them in their daily lives. Technology plays an important role and will facilitate this, for instance with patient hoists, cameras, home automation etc. Services are increasingly tailored to individual needs.

A beautiful thought

Roger likes the idea that in the future we will see more and more integration and that you can see people living together, no matter how old they are or what their condition is. Support will then be provided in the neighbourhood on the basis of collaboration. This means that Brabantzorg will change. We should focus much more on knowing exactly what care supporters are good at, regardless from which organisation they are. In that way, all kinds of initiatives will develop. Focus on the client and don’t think about your own institute. Every day as pleasant as possible…