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Video: A pioneer tells his story

Jos de Blok from Holland challenges his country’s health care system – and many other systems in the world.

In many Western countries, care is seen as a problem: rising costs, overworked staff and dissatisfied patients.

At Dutch company Buurtzorg, the situation is different. “The way we organise geriatric care is usually very fragmented and very focused on efficiency, productivity and so on. We said, no, we should focus on healthy and sustainable relationships. Then you get good health care,” says health care entrepreneur Jos de Blok.

At Buurtzorg, the carers themselves decide on the assistance they provide to their patients – not some office far removed from the work.

De Blok started with a small team of professional nurses. Today, Buurtzorg has more than 14,000 members of staff. They work in small, self-managed care teams of no more than 12 people.

Huge amounts of money are wasted

“In the current system 20 to 30 per cent of the money is not spent on health care. In the way we organise our system, the money goes to policy makers, to managers, to a lot of things instead of health care workers. You don’t need all these people to deliver high quality of health care”, de Blok says.

He adds that when people other than the carers decide on the amount of assistance needed, the number of hours of care increase. Often lengthy care visits aren’t needed. It’s about earning money.

When it comes to supervision, says de Blok, his organisation believes in self-monitoring. In the Buurtzorg model, the team members monitor each other. There are currently 40 countries that are either adopting the Buurtzorg approach or have expressed an interest to the Dutch company.