Clever solutions through innovative thinking make life easier sometimes

Innovation is an important theme within Aveleijn. The organisation provides care, support, treatment and advice to children, teens, adults and senior citizens with a mental disability or low social efficacy in Twente and a small part of the Achterhoek region. Support supervisor Marian Oude Alink: “I often hear that their lives become more pleasant because of our innovative way of working and accompanying materials. That is what motivates us!”

Aveleijn has been working on this theme for over seven years. Bente Niesink works on the innovation project and explains how she keeps the topic on the agenda. "We work with an innovation programme that includes themes such as fit and vitality, direction and self-reliance, and contact and communication. We also introduced a social and technological innovation theme for our colleagues. Several innovators in our organisation work on our clusters. These colleagues have a number of hours to further develop and integrate innovation in these clusters”, she explains.


Marian thinks this works well. She works as a support worker in the Denekamp cluster, where her clients live and work. "I like the fact that I can provide customised support. Every client is different; they all have different needs. Innovation is not just a technical tool. It also includes the combination of living and working, where the supervisor follows the client from the moment they get up to when they go back to bed. And it also includes thinking differently outside fixed patterns. That appeals to me. In my experience, it’s best to think along with the clients and my colleagues. I never say ‘no’ to a request; many more things are possible than you might think originally."


The staff does not work on the topic of innovation alone; the clients themselves also help out. In the organisation’s Living Lab, for example, where clients test and loan materials. "It is essential that our clients feel responsible for this. They often look at products from a different perspective and can often explain this much better and with more enthusiasm to fellow clients than we can”, she knows.


Several innovations have already been successfully implemented within Aveleijn in recent years. Such as the stabilising spoon, which makes eating easier by reducing the effect of hand vibrations. And the robot Tessa, a talking plant that reminds clients of dental appointments or to come to the walk-in for a cup of coffee. These have made life easier for many clients. And it is no longer always necessary to be with the clients at all times because clients can be monitored remotely by using GPS and sleep monitoring, for example. The flexobed, a bed that can turn and raise, makes clients more self-reliant. They can get in and out of bed independently, reducing the need to rely on supervisors.


Marian: “They are all great tools that make life much more pleasant. I'm thrilled with the 'my own plan' application myself. Every client has a screen in their residence with customised information on dinner, the agenda, planned activities and so on. We can even project surveys on it. The text is read aloud at the touch of a button, giving clients a lot of space, peace and overview. That is really nice!”


Bente: “I like that our organisation is making progress in the field of innovation. We see more results, so more colleagues and clients are becoming enthusiastic. It helps make life a bit more pleasant, and it can reduce the workload of my colleagues." Marian adds: "But we must keep a close eye on our clients. These innovations remain tools; they do not replace care and support. Innovation does not stand on its own: it is a part of our work and policy, just like sustainability. We are always looking for the best solution to a request for help. That keeps us on our toes and our work challenging and interesting."

Date: 4 January 2023 |

Source of tekst: Aveleijn |

Author: Marloes Neeskens

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