Today, seniors (people aged over 65) make up approximately 20% of the Dutch population. By 2050, that figure will have risen to 30%: almost one in three. The government’s budget for health and welfare is already under strain. Care services for the elderly will therefore become an increasingly urgent topic in the years ahead. New forms of accommodation may offer solutions.
One obvious problem caused by population ageing is the impending shortage of care staff. However, the physical infrastructure of care services demands equal attention. Where are all society's seniors going to live in forty years' time? How can hospitals be structured to cope with the increasing demand for care from this section of the community? These are among the questions to which the researchers of the Faculty of Engineering Technology (CTW) seek answers. They have initiated a number of research projects to prepare us all for the effects of population ageing.
The hospital in 3D
Visico, a centre set up by CTW researchers, specializes in visualizing professional public spaces such as hospitals. Its products enable all parties involved in a newbuild project to coordinate their work as effectively as possible. This is important given that such projects now seek to produce more and better results at lower costs.
Visico produces three-dimensional plans which provide a spatial impression of a building's design. It is even possible to recreate the experience of actually walking through the various rooms. In an early stage of the design process, contractors and other relevant parties (such as fire safety inspectors) can clearly see whether the design is viable and whether improvements can be made. The effects of even the smallest modification to the design are immediately apparent. This saves both time and money.
CTW also studies care processes to determine their success factors. In early 2010, young researcher Hendrik Cramer joined the ongoing project 'Twente approach to sheltered accommodation'. It examines ways in which seniors and others requiring care, such as the mentally handicapped, can support each other, enabling them to live in the community in specially adapted accommodation. It is hoped that the project will lead to the construction of a full-scale residential estate on which people will share accommodation as 'housemates', each helping the others to live in safety and to remain independent for longer. The district will also offer professional care services appropriate to the needs and wishes of its residents.
Hendrik Cramer's role is to evaluate the various part-projects and examine whether the ideas can be rolled out into other areas of the country. The project began as a partnership between several local care providers, a network organization, a project developer based in Overijssel and the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research (TNO). Hendrik Cramer's involvement means that the broad knowledge of the University of Twente can now be added to the mix.