Public Management

Co-creation and quality in the care for the elderly

March 20, 2014

The need for care facilities for the elderly is increasing due to the aging population, the shrinking labor market and an increase in health care costs. In addition, the quality of the available care is not always in keeping with the care needs of the elderly. A solution to these problems has been sought after for quite some time. The position in the care process of the elderly in need of care has been examined from various angles in the past years - such as the free market system and active citizenship. This initially occurred from the position of consumer, but nowadays as a co-producer of care as well. There has been a change in the way of thinking from a demand-driven approach to permanent involvement and from full care to the use of the own means of the elderly and their social networks. Health care organizations now face the challenge of how to organize co-creation in such a way that the quality of the care is warranted.

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Jenneke van Pijpen is director of the Academy of Cordaan, an organization for the long-term care of the elderly in Amsterdam. She conducted a study among clients and their social network, professional health care workers and policy-makers and the managers of health care organizations. She found that all parties involved were of the opinion that co-creation could positively contribute to the quality of the care. A condition for the above is that the person requiring care is ‘a human being and not a disorder’ and that the professional is less programmed to ‘taking over’ and more to 'activating'. There should also be room for differences.
If care organizations want to shape co-creation, then the most important condition to that end is that they no longer position themselves as ‘suppliers of care’ but rather as organizations that have 'organizing the relationship between the care provider and the client and his/her social network’ as added value. This requires new competencies on the part of the care organizations and a new model for the training of care professionals. Now that there is an increasing need for a 'model of joint responsibility' based on a dialogue between the care professional and the client, it is no longer desirable to depart from the 'medical model’ that focuses on taking over the responsibility.

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