Five million euros for two chairs of primary care: a unique interdisciplinary approach to improve primary care in Belgium

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Universities, colleges, citizens’ representatives, professionals and politicians are pooling their strength, resources, knowledge and research skills to work to develop excellent primary care in Belgium. The two interdisciplinary chairs of primary care have come into being thanks to support from the Dr Daniël De Coninck Fund, which is managed by the King Baudouin Foundation and has made 5 million euros available for this purpose over a five year period.

With support from the Dr Daniël De Coninck Fund, the two interdisciplinary chairs of primary care are intended to support and contribute towards improvements in primary care, which covers all those involved in providing care or health care services to people living at home. These include professionals such as general practitioners, district nurses, midwives, social workers, psychologists, pharmacists, physiotherapists and others. Carers working at home (health care assistants, live-in caregivers etc.) and volunteers also have an important role in primary care.

People often want to live at home for as long as possible while maintaining a good quality of life, or to care for their relatives at home. That is true for older people but also for others: people who have had accidents or have medical conditions, children with a disability and others also need care and health care at home. The needs in this area are increasing all the time. The challenges of primary care are universal: an ageing population, a growing number of people living at home with chronic diseases, inequalities in health and access to care, changing technologies, fragmented services, a shortage of general practitioners in rural areas etc. However the way to answer the challenges depends on the regional context.

One chair is entitled Primary care academy and is for Flanders
The Primary Care Academy is intended to enlarge the capacity for research into primary care in Flanders. It will support areas of primary care by building knowledge about real person-focused care and will develop innovative tools and action plans in collaboration with actors on the ground. The Academy is also intended to contribute towards meeting the need for education and continuing training among care providers, and to help to reduce the number of professionals leaving the welfare and care sectors.

Through support from the Dr Daniël De Coninck Fund and with the commitment of the knowledge institutions that are involved, the Academy will be able to carry out these missions in a completely independent way. The consortium is being led by Prof Roy Remmen (Antwerp University) and Dr Emily Verté (VUB). Teams are also involved from KU Leuven, UGent, Hogeschool Gent, Karel de Grote-Hogeschool, Arteveldehogeschool Gent, Thomas More Hogeschool, UCLL and VIVES.

The other chair is called Be.Hive and is for the French-speaking part of Belgium
For the first time the three universities (UCLouvain, ULB and ULiège) and three colleges (HELB, Henallux, Haute Ecole Léonard de Vinci) have come together to form a network, which also includes citizens’ representatives, professionals and politicians. Collaboration between research institutions and key actors on the ground was an essential criterion in the selection process for the provision of support. The coordinator of the consortium is Thérèse Van Durme (UCLouvain)

From the very first year, the chair will be committed to developing a common, shared vision of primary care with all the actors involved (patients, caregivers, professionals, government bodies etc.). This should make it possible to ensure that high-quality care is accessible to people who live at home and need care, and also to take action in the areas of health promotion and prevention, targeting citizens who are in good health.

The resources provided by the Dr Daniël De Coninck Fund will mainly be used to provide funding for researchers, but also to set up a platform for communication with actors in primary care and to organise an annual public event. The partner organisations are all undertaking to make use of their expertise with the aim of creating new knowledge.

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