Hugo de Jonge talks with dementia professors

The Minister of geriatric care at the Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS) had seen my free e-book, ‘Among dementia professors’, with portraits and interviews with 44 professors and wanted to talk about it. We finally met on Thursday, November 14: 20 dementia professors came to the Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sport in the Hague for a great meeting

Approach and importance of the meeting

In the runup, I had divided everyone into four theme groups with the request to jointly prepare one pitch with one presenter. Each group had prepared lovely pages, and everything was ready on time. In the first hour, we practised together before the minister joined us. Each pitch lasted 4 minutes, followed by 10 minutes of questions and discussion with the minister. In this way, we discussed a lot in just one hour.

Four themes

It is impractical to summarise all of that content here. But a challenging one was, for example, the prevention of dementia theme. If the knowledge about prevention and lifestyle accumulated over years were to be applied systematically and on a large scale, the incidence of dementia could decline by one-third! The second theme concerned ‘translational’ research, over the entire line from basic fundamental laboratory research using mice and mini-brains to psychosocial interventions, case management and the organisation of person-oriented integral dementia care. To make this possible, the minister wants to double the national research budget. That is necessary to understand how dementia originates (tomorrow’s patient) and to arrive at effective and cost-saving treatment and care implemented nationwide (today’s patient). Finally, large-scale research into the organisation and effectiveness of person-oriented and integral dementia care is very much needed. The minister stated that he finds the current healthcare system too complicated to properly face the future challenges of greying of the population and dementia. That promises to be an interesting topic for the next national elections.

Robbert Huijsman ontmoet Hugo de Jonge

There will be a follow-up!

At the end, Hugo de Jonge announced that a letter about the dementia policy would soon be submitted to the Lower House of Parliament. And he challenged us as a group of professors to produce together a future agenda for research and the practice. Overall, the wish for further collaboration was expressed. The meeting and the e-book helped to make it easy to get us together and obtain insight over the entire work field. There is great interest in better collaboration after years of competition for subsidies, publications and attention. The dementia puzzle is so huge and varied that we shall have a lot of work to do together. A work group was formed with the support of VWS. At the start of next year, we shall organise a two-day meeting to actually set up the future agenda!

More information

This blog is written by prof. Robbert Huijsman of research group Health Services Management & Organisation (HSMO) at Erasmus School of Health Policy & Management.