Applied Gerontology and Nursing Students worked in multidisciplinary teams in Germany on rural innovation.
Five students of Applied Gerontology (AG) and a Nursing student took part in the LINGA Blockwoche in Germany. During that week, ten groups of five students from various programmes worked on innovative solutions to the same problem. This year’s theme was 'city, countryside and health'. The students’ assignment was to connect these three factors.
AG student Marjolein Oldenhuis worked with her group on the concept of 'Gemeinsam Land Leben' (Living Together In the Country), which they had come up with. “The purpose of this concept was to promote exchanges between different generations in Wendland, by organizing a holiday experience in the country", says Marjolein. "There were evidently a lot of singles over 60 living in the municipality of Wendland. We intend to link them to vacationers who will be doing volunteer work for these elderly people. This way, the knife cuts both ways: the volunteers can have a relaxing experience in the countryside at an affordable price while the elderly are being activated and get help with certain activities. Finally, the region also benefits: it gets free publicity, attracts more tourists and in the longer term will have a better chance to improve infrastructure."
Fellow student Hannah van Kooten with her group designed an app to match supply and demand of volunteer work. That idea in itself is not so innovative, but they decided to involve local shops and retailers. Hannah’s group suggested that points should be awarded for volunteer work, which would give the volunteers discounts at local shop and retailers. This would also give the regional economy a boost. Hannah and her group won first prize with this idea.
Nursing student Liselotte Volkers and her group did not win a prize, unfortunately, but she still looks back on a highly successful week: "I was very pleased to experience that we students can learn a lot from each other. I was assigned to a group with four German students who were all in very different programmes, like Urban and Regional Management, and Transformation Design. This year the subject had a strong focus on health care. Being a nursing student, I was of course in an excellent position to contribute to the group, even though my German was not great." During this week, Liselotte was also able to compare the Dutch and German health care systems. And she found out that the level of nursing education in Germany differs from that in the Netherlands: "I noticed that the perceived status of the nursing profession in Germany is lower than that in the Netherlands."
The ideas gained and contacts made do not stop after this educational, interesting, intensive and fun week. Liselotte: "I’m keeping in touch with my group. We will work together to further develop our idea. "Marjolein is also keeping in touch: "I'm especially proud because our concept is actually being implemented by the municipality of Wendland. As a team, we will continue to be involved in the project!"
Photo: The Windesheim students who participated in the LINGA Blockwoche with their supervising lecturer