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“You cannot predict the future, but you can think about it!” Master’s Vitality and Ageing visits Vilans!

As part of the career orientation of the Master’s Vitality and Ageing, students visit various healthcare, policy and research organisations throughout the year. Students get introduced to relevant organisations where they have the possibility for a graduation internship and career opportunities. This year, for the first time in the master’s Vitality and Ageing (V&A) history, the students were invited to visit Vilans in Utrecht. Vilans is the national Centre of Expertise for Long-term Care in the Netherlands therefore fits in with the Master’s program perfectly.

The diversity of Vilans

At Vilans, the V&A students were welcomed by Johan Vesseur (senior advisor) and Monique Spierenburg (expert), who showed an overview of the broad range of subjects Vilans is involved in. Spierenburg highlighted the 3 major focus points of Vilans: research (mostly funded by ZonMw), consultancy and knowledge (funded by VWS). As a knowledge centre they collect, validate and distribute knowledge about (mostly) long-term care.

This is especially relevant for long-term care facilities, health professionals, informal caregivers and of course patients. One of the projects she referred to was a collaboration with the Institute of Positive Health (IPH) named: “8 tips for positive heath”. Spierenburg explained that Vilans is especially important for implementation of the projects because of the co-creation with the specific target groups.     

Healthcare innovation

“You cannot predict the future, but you can think about it!” explained Vesseur to introduce the second part of the lecture. To illustrate this, he showed the students an extreme example of how the healthcare can look in 2030. This evoked a lot of discussion right away, which turned out to be the goal of design fiction, which is a part of design thinking. Design thinking is effectively used by Vilans as a way of creating innovations relevant for the target group.

Master Vitality and Ageing and Vilans

The master’s Vitality and Ageing prepares young professionals for the healthcare challenges from biological, individual and societal perspectives of ageing. This aligns with Vilans’ projects, for example their project on positive health or with (acute) cases and questions from the field like the project focused on preventing antibiotic resistance in nursing homes.

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