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Buurtzorg: revolutionising home care in the Netherlands

Home care in the Netherlands is provided to the chronically ill, people with dementia, and individuals in need of end-of-life care following their discharge from hospital. It encompasses medical treatment and nursing services, such as dressing wounds and giving injections, as well as personal care such as help with taking a shower or guidance on coping with daily activities. Thus, home care is one of the most personal forms of healthcare.

Buurtzorg was founded as an alternative to the larger regional providers more common at the time. In the Netherlands, home care organisations contract with government-funded insurance companies to provide these services. The home care social enterprise set out to compete with these traditional providers and “simplify the health care system in Holland to show that a patient-centered way of working could deliver better services at a reduced cost, by empowering nurses, cutting back on management overheads and encouraging patients’ self-support and independence”. De Blok told the European Social Services Conference in 2017 that “we wanted to separate care from the administrative process. So we built an IT company which took care of admin, so that nurses could spend time on creating solutions for patients without the need for management.”

Each team only operates at the neighbourhood level (covering approximately 10,000 people and 40 patients), which empowered nurses to go beyond the mere medical management of their patients. Buurtzorg’s nurses are more like “health coaches”, who create sustainable solutions leading towards prevention and care independence. Leveraging existing support systems, “[t]hey are available round the clock and – working closely with GPs – they organise all the supporting care, drawing in families, friends, and volunteers. They see themselves as community-builders.”

Read the full case study at Centre for Public Impact.


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