News / Europe

Netherlands Retirement Home Tests Innovative Program to Share Burden

Netherlands Retirement Home Tests Innovative Program to Share Burdensi
X
October 25, 2013 5:01 AM
The Netherlands has long been one of the best places to retire, largely because of the generous Dutch welfare state. But as elderly care gets more expensive, the country is looking for new ways of providing "well-being" for its clients at a lower cost.

Netherlands Retirement Home Tests Innovative Program to Share Burdens

Zlatica Hoke
The Netherlands has long been one of the best places to retire, largely because of the generous Dutch welfare state.  But as elderly care becomes more expensive, the country is looking for new ways of providing well-being for its citizens at a lower cost.  One retirement home is testing a program that aims to share the burden of costs in a unique way.
 
In a retirement home outside the central city of Gouda, a person can only get a place if a friend or relative agrees to participate in the care of pensioners who live there.
 
Henk Hom gives four hours of his time every month to the elderly, doing things like cooking, cleaning, and trying to make the daily lives of the residents more pleasant. In exchange for these services, his father can have a room.

"It's not really work. I come and see my father if he needs me, so I help, that’s normal,” said Hom.
 
But it's not only his father who looks forward to seeing him. Another retiree, Mrs. Lubbers, is glad to see him as well.
 
 “It’s really good that he comes, we get to know each other. He does everything, he helps us, he’s a really good man,” said Lubbers.
 
The Gouda retirement home is testing the idea of a “society of participation,” conceived by Prime Minister Mark Rutte to ease some of the burden on the country's welfare system. The retirement home’s director, Sylvia Oudenes, says the system has worked smoothly so far. Of the 18 families that took part in the test program, only one family decided to go elsewhere.
 
“The main criticisms were about the obligatory nature.  It’s a moral obligation and it’s only four hours a month.  And apparently 60 percent of people doing this for a relative, friend or neighbor do well over the four hours that we ask,” said Oudenes.
 
The home does not depend only on volunteer work; professionals such as Rik Remmerswaal, a nurse, work there as well.
 
“They [the volunteers] just talk, go for walks. They don’t wash or dress them [the retirees]. They don’t help them go to the toilet, that’s what we do. The volunteers don’t provide health care, they just do the little things that we won’t always have time for,” said Remmerswaal.
 
By 2050, more than a quarter of the Dutch population is expected to be 65 or over. Many in the Netherlands say it is time to turn from the society of welfare into a society of sharing.
 
A bill before parliament is proposing to make the elderly, chronically sick or handicapped people give private lessons to children who are behind at school.
 
Critics have objected to what they consider the obligatory nature of such volunteer work, but Henk Hom says many others see it as a moral obligation.

You May Like

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land In French Port

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching 'Fortress Europe' More

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

New Hints That Dark Matter Exists

New evidence from International Space Station hints at existence of dark matter and dark energy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid