Interview with Katrien Luijkx

Katrien Luijkx was appointed professor of geriatric care in November 2013 and occupies the Tranzo university of Tilburg chair.

Katrien Luijkx on De Leyhoeve

What does your work with senior citizens entail?

I am researching geriatrics. I obtained my doctorate in 2001 on how senior citizens take care of themselves and who they call on if they are no longer able to do that. Since then I have devoted the largest part of my working life to socio-scientific research into senior citizens.


Where do you work?

I work at Tranzo which is one of the departments at the Tilburg School of Social and Behavioral Sciences of Tilburg University. Our goal is to connect science and practice in the area of care and well-being. In order to do this, we work closely with health care practice. We do this in different areas in what we call Academische Werkplaatsen or ‘academic work placements’. I coordinate the geriatric academic work placements.


You are also a professor?

Yes, I was appointed Professor of Geriatrics in November 2013. My chair is partly funded by 10 geriatric health care providers. These are De Riethorst Stromenland, Volckaert, Surplus, De Wever, Stichting Schakelring, Stichting Groenhuysen, Zorggroep West- en Midden-Brabant (Thebe), CZ Zorgkantoren, BrabantZorg and ZuidZorg . I collaborate with these organisations on academic work placements.


What are you hoping to achieve?

Through my research I want to contribute to creating a humane health care system for the elderly. By humane health care I mean care in which there is space for each person’s identity, possibilities and preferences and in which senior citizens are treated like full partners in their care. The senior citizens’ daily lives and perspectives are at the centre of my research and are the driver on which to evaluate innovation and different types of care. This may seem logical, but in practice researchers, health care providers and managers find it easier to discuss senior citizens with each other than to discuss it with the senior citizens themselves. I expect that much ground will be gained if we see and listen to senior citizens and try to design the care they need with them.


What does your research at de Leyhoeve entail?

This doctoral research will clarify the extent to which the design and methodology of De Leyhoeve either complements or differs from those of standard health care agencies. In particular, we will look at the experiences of residents with dementia. To this end, the design and methodology in the medical care suites at De Leyhoeve will be described and compared to psychogeriatric units in one or more standard health care agencies.

The research will look closely at the residents in the 85 medical care suites. They will be compared to people with dementia at residential psychogeriatric units at standard health care agencies. We will look at self-sufficiency, in which caregiving is an important aspect. In addition the general well-being, the quality of life for the residents and their caregivers is also important. Once we know what issues are important and distinctive for our research, we will look for a questionnaire that will help us measure the experiences of senior citizens and their caregivers. Should this type of questionnaire not exist, we will design one ourselves.

Health care in the Netherlands is suffering from stringent budget cuts and this is why we will include the cost aspect in our research. We will compare the costs of residence, care and medical resources in the medical care suites at De Leyhoeve against the cost of the same components in psychogeriatric units in standard health care agencies.

I am supervising this research together with Johan Polder, Professor of Health Care Economics at Tranzo. We are currently looking for a suitable researcher.


Why de Leyhoeve?

I am very interested in this research because De Leyhoeve is developing an innovative concept of health care provision in which the important aspects of people centred care can be created or act as the foundation of care. I expect that it will become an example of how self-sufficiency and maintaining control over your life will become the point of departure while professional care, should it be required, will be in addition to you yourself and your caregivers taking care of you instead of replacing these. Another interesting aspect is that technological resources are automatically built into the medical care suites, and while they can be used if necessary, they are not visible.


I hope that this research will show us how people-centred health care can be put into practice, how spaces can be designed, technology used and health care providers can work.