Home care group from Netherlands adds value to the Valley

Michelle Michels, left and Kari Huckels make up the current neighborhood nursing team at Buurtzorg, which aims to help others by adding value to the community. (Gazette staff photo by Avery Cropp)

Buurtzorg, a neighborhood nursing company originally established in the Netherlands, recently opened its doors in the St. Croix Valley.
The new Stillwater location, owned by Michelle Michels, is one of many Buurtzorg teams worldwide.
The organization itself began in Holland in 2007 in response to elder care in that country, according to Buurtzorg CEO Jos de Blok.
“I wasn’t satisfied by elderly care,” de Blok said during a recent site visit. “Our goal is to bring home care organizations to neighborhoods. Working in the 80s, community nurses had an important role in keeping the autonomy of people.”
De Blok said he used the principles from the 80s and restored values and principles that allowed licensed registered nurses to work in smaller teams of no more than 12 working in a neighborhood of 10,000 people caring for all kinds of patients. The teams are responsible for the patients, and he says they have the autonomy they needed to deliver the best possible care. The organization is without management and has low overhead costs so the money earned is spent on patients and their nurses with the goal of higher quality at a lower cost. And it’s all supported by an innovative IT system.
“In 2007 we started with four nurses, and we’ve grown to include over 8,000 across the world today,” de Blok said.
Yearly conferences have taken place since the organization was established. Five years ago Buurtzorg came to a conference in Minneapolis, where Michels heard about the new structure and was inspired to look into it.
“At the time I was working in home care, primarily in pediatric home care,” Michels said. “Buurtzorg’s structure really resonated with the way I was educated as a nurse and allowed me to practice as a more holistic nurse in the nursing field, which caused me to become really interested in this.”
In January 2013 eight people, including Michels, went to the Netherlands and learned about how Buurtzorg worked.
“We shadowed nurses for a week and learned about the nurses and nursing at Buurtzorg,” Michels said. “We saw how they worked in action, meetings, supporting each other, and we did a lot of good work on how to put all the pieces together.”
The rest is history.
The new Buurtzorg location in Stillwater currently has two staff and is working toward three.
The location is early in the team-building process but will be expanding the team and providing more services soon. The nurses primarily provide nursing care to people in their homes.
“We treat all kinds of patient groups with every problem you meet in neighborhoods” de Blok said. “Terminally ill, dementia, focusing on self-support, teaching about and dealing with problems and doing it in a good way. Developing relationships in the neighborhoods.”
“With each individual person we identify their strengths and build and grow their skills to help them maintain independence,” Michels said. “We try to help them avoid moves if possible. Research has shown that people want to stay in their homes for as long as they can. They can look to us to provide care and make it a working option for them.”
Michels said that she sees people’s primary practitioner as a main partner in helping patients, and Buurtzorg can supplement that care.
According to the company website BuurtzorgMN.com, the company provides the following services:
• Integrated support to the general practitioner and other health care providers including: diabetes consultation, asthma/COPD procedures, prevention consultation, heart failure guidance including home visits.
• Home -are activities requiring collaboration with physicians including terminal care, wound or leg ulcer treatment, elderly with chronic conditions.
• Facility/organizational support of the practice including work commissioned by the primary practitioner, established categorical procedures, implementation of modules of care (nursing module, polypharmacy protocol).
“It’s been great to come back,” Michel’s said. “We’re at a time in our business where we’re familiarizing ourselves with the community. I’m from here. I was raised here, and now I’m back. It’s a small town, a lovely community. We’re networking and building support, and we have found an incredible community for that with Community Thread, Stillwater Medical Group and Family Means. All the supports here are great. We’re adding value. We want to work together and be part of it.”
Buurtzorg is located at 1921 Curve Crest Blvd., next to Valley Outreach.

Contact Avery Cropp at [email protected]