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About us

Vilans is the national Centre of Expertise for Long-term Care in the Netherlands. In this field, Vilans engages in innovation, research and development, dissemination, and implementation of good practices.

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Vilans primarily works for professionals and managers in care providing organisations in long-term care, primary care, social care, organisations of volunteers in this field, user organisations, health care insurers and authorities at local, provincial, national and EU level. Vilans is mainly funded by the Dutch government.

Vilans is well-known in the Netherlands for running large scale and nationwide implementation programs, such as the National Dementia Program (in which in 90% of the Dutch regions integrated care networks were set up), the Care for Better Program (around 700 organisations participated in this quality improvement program) and Up to Care! (more than 460 long-term care organisations have been transformed or are currently transforming to become sustainable organisations). Vilans has participated in several EU projects, as a scientific director (CARMEN, FP 5) and as participants in INTERLINKS and PROGRESS. Vilans has large digital dissemination expertise. Below we present a selection of recent international and large scale implementation and dissemination projects.

National projects and large scale programs

Evaluation Wlz

2016-current (The Netherlands Institute for Social Research)

The project, commissioned by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS), focusses on the evaluation of the long term care-law (elderly care and disability care). It encompasses subjects related to client support, the implementation of care plans and the cooperation between formal and informal care. A special focus is put on quality of life and the ability of clients to remain as much in control of their own lives as possible. Insight is gained in the perspectives of health professionals and clients on the latest reforms and implications for the care provided under the long term care-law. The strengths and hurdles provide relevant pointers for improvement. The knowledge gained from the explorative study will result in an exposition of the state of the art of elderly and disability care in the Netherlands and will contribute to relevant improvements of long term care delivery.

Integraal werken in de wijk

2016-current (Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports)

The “Integraal werken in de wijk” (Integrated working on neighborhood level) program supports municipalities and professionals in the implementation of integrated health and social care on neighborhood level. In the program communities, professionals, citizens and informal caregivers are working together intensively. The program focuses on 1) access to health and social care, 2) collaboration between professionals teams on neighborhood level, and 3) supporting people with psychiatric or intellectual disabilities.

Dignity and Pride Program. Loving care for our elderly

2016-current (Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports)

In 2016, the program Dignity and pride (D&P), loving care for our elderly has started. The program is initiated by the ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS) and the TaskForce D&P. Dignity and pride is aimed at improving the quality of long-term care. It has explicit attention for strengthening the position of clients and care professionals. The program is specifically focused on nursing homes.

One of the components of the program Dignity and pride is to give nursing homes who have the ambition to excel more space. This way, they could develop best practices which improve the quality of care and which could function as examples for the entire nursing home sector. The component Dignity and pride, more space for nursing homes is assigned to Vilans. 169 nursing home facilities (with more than 750 locations) participate in this part of the program. The participants work on their improvements in thematic groups, and are supported by so-called theme coordinators. The themes range from ‘client central’, to ‘Quality of Care’, ‘cross domain financing’, and ‘Food Safety – HACCP’. 

Also part of Dignity and pride, more space for nursing homes is the support program Quality of nursing homes. This support program is aimed at improving the quality of care in approximately 75 nursing homes (locations) where are urgent quality problems, as determined by the Healthcare Inspectorate or the director of the nursing home.

Outcome Indicators Dementia Care

2015-current (initiated by health insurer Zilveren Kruis and Vilans)

The Outcome Indicators Dementia Care, measure the quality of life of people with dementia and their informal carers, including the perseverance time of informal carers. The evidence based questionnaire has been developed by the Dutch health insurer Zilveren Kruis (formerly Achmea) and Vilans in close cooperation with experts and professionals from the field. An online portal has been developed for registration and regular comparative reporting is provided. The monitoring instrument is unique as it is not aimed at measuring the quality of processes or structures of care and support, but directly monitors relevant outcomes of care as experienced by people with dementia and their informal carers.

In voor Mantelzorg

2012–current (Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports)

The ‘In voor mantelzorg’ program aims to support 80 organisations in long term care, social care and welfare and 2500 professionals to improve and strengthen the position of informal carers. In the 80 innovation projects there is a focus on reducing the burden for informal carers, using supportive technologies, reducing unnecessary limitations and improving their knowledge and position. The program is coordinated by Vilans and partner organisation Movisie.

In voor Zorg

2009–current (Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports)  

In voor Zorg, or Up to Care, is a large scale improvement program assigned by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports and executed by Vilans in collaboration with numerous subcontractors. The program has been set up as a supportive policy to facilitate health care organisations in long term care to adapt and sustain all necessary transformations and transitions to improve services for clients. During the past years over 450 health care organisations have participated and worked during trajectories of 1 to 2 years on quality improvement and redesigning their organisation. The Up to care program provides support in multiple ways by coaches, knowledge brokers, instruments, meetings, master classes (all kinds of) conferences, peer learning, thematic groups and a website. The scale of program is huge; over more than 100 mln. euro’s since the start till now.

Zorg voor Beter

2005-2011 (Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports. ZonMw)  

Zorg voor Beter, The National Care for Better program, was a large scale improvement program assigned by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports and ZonMw. There were over 700 participating organisations in long term care, (€ 7 mln., 2007-2012). The program management was performed by Vilans and the execution of over 50 projects in collaboration with 12 subcontractors. The program focused on the implementation of improvement of quality issues like fall prevention, medication safety, reducing restraints, problem behaviour, innovation. The program delivered also numerous knowledge products and in the last phases the results and products were also translated and transferred to the education sector.

Landelijk Dementie programma

2005–2008 (Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports, ZonMw)

The National Dementia Program (NDP) was a large scale improvement program om integrated dementia care. Over 40 integrated dementia networks participated, and used the program to build and strengthen the organisation and content of the dementia care in their region, starting from the clients perspective. The program was executed by Vilans in close collaboration with the Dutch Institute for Healthcare Improvement CBO and patient federation Alzheimer Netherlands. The total budget was 2,7 mln. euro’s. The program resulted also in the National Dementia Network, in which all the dementia networks exchange knowledge and good practices. 

Knowledge platforms hosted by Vilans

International projects

The International Forum on Quality and Safety in Healthcare

Amsterdam 2018

The International Forum on Quality and Safety in Healthcare is one of the world’s largest conferences for healthcare professionals committed to improving patient care and their safety. In May 2018 the International Forum travels to Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Vilans is a partner in the organization of the conference with Hannie Treffers as member of the national board.

Special Interest Group Values and PRinciples of Integrated Care

2016-current (initiated by IFIC and Vilans)  

Vilans and the International Foundation for Integrated Care (IFIC) have initiated an international Special Interest Group (SIG) with the aim of developing a workable set of underlying principles or values for person-centered integrated care. The SIG consists of researchers, policy makers, practitioners and client representatives from multiple countries. Principles and values are important, because they can be the basis to guide integrated care improvement and policy and they can underpin interventions or (measurement) frameworks to evaluate integrated person centered care.  

Person centered and integrated health services are being developed and implemented worldwide in many countries and locations. However, the development and implementation of integrated care is complex and the concepts of person-centered and integrated care are multidimensional. In practice there is a range of care models, interventions and a diversity of appearances in which integrated care is presented. Despite this diversity, the underlying principles or values of person centered integrated care seem to be more or less generic. 



Vilans is one of the founders of EUROCARERS. EUROCARERS is the European network representing informal carers and their organisations, irrespective of the particular age or health need of the person they are caring for. Their aim is to advance the issue of informal care at both national and EU levels by raising awareness of the significant contribution made by carers to health and social care systems and the economy as a whole, and of the need to safeguard this contribution; and by ensuring that EU and national policies take account of carers, i.e. promote social inclusion of carers, the development of support services for carers, enable them to remain active in paid employment and maintain a social life. From 2004-2009 Henk Nies was the vice-chair of the Eurocarers board.

SUSTAIN: Sustainable Tailored Integrated Care For Older People In Europe

2015–2019 (Horizon 2020, EC)

The SUSTAIN project is a four year initiative (2015-2019) funded through the European Commission Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2014-2015; Health, demographic change and wellbeing. It includes 9 partners from European countries—The Netherlands (Vilans, VUMc, RIVM), UK, Norway, Belgium, Austria, Spain, Estonia, Germany – who will work with sites as well as additional European partners – Ireland and Belgium – who will support the project. The SUSTAIN project aims to improve integrated care for older people living at home with multiple health and social care needs. The project will work with two existing integrated care sites in seven European countries and will support the sites in further improving their care based on a number of identifiers.

European Social Network: an exploration of current practices

2015–2016 (ESN)

The European Social Network (ESN) is the independent network for public social services in Europe. Because of demographic, economic and social changes, the demand for social services is increasing and services are also getting more diverse. Therefore, there has been an increasing focus in the need to ensure a greater cooperation between social services and related services in the sectors health, education and labor. Vilans carries out a systematic literature review about integrated social services and executes a practice review with ESN members. 43 practices are collected and analysed. The aim is to present the state of play in regards to integrated services across Europe, as well as to identify and analyze the current practice of public authorities’ integrated services delivery.  

Happy Walker

2012-2016 (AAL)

Vilans participated in the European AAL Happy Walker project. The objective of Happy Walker is to develop an ICT-based solution, specifically targeted to the elderly people,  that sustain the ability of the elderly people to use different types of transportation and their mobility. A mobile navigation application and peripheral devices (fall detector, GPS tracker, etc.) is designed and developed to support people with dementia during navigation.

Vilans also participated in the follow-up project (Happy Walker Outstanding) to develop a sound business case and bring the Happy Walker solution to the market.


2009-2012 (AAL)  

Vilans participated in the European AAL ROSETTA project. Within this project, an AAL system was developed to support community dwelling people with progressive chronic disabilities, such as Alzheimer’s Disease, to retain their autonomy and quality of life as much as possible and to support their (in)formal carers by an ICT system that offers activity guidance and awareness services for independent living.


2008–2011 (European Commission)

Vilans participated in the European INTERLINKS project (EU 7th Framework Programme), with Henk Nies (Vilans) as Work Package leader on Quality Management. INTERLINKS was a three year project designed in a spiral configuration to elaborate on the INTERfaces and LINKS between health and social care, and between formal and informal care. Its main aim was to construct a general framework for describing and analysing long-term care (LTC) for frail older people. The project was co-ordinated by the European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research (Vienna) with a consortium of 15 partners from 12 Member States (AT, DE, DK, EL, ES, FI, FR, IT, NL, SE, SK, UK) and Switzerland. INTERLINKS published the book Long-term Care in Europe. Improving Policy and Practice, with Kai Leichsenring, Jenny Billings and Henk Nies as editors.

Quality Management by Result-oriented Indicators

2007-2013 (European Commission) 

The project Quality Management by Result-oriented Indicators – Towards Benchmarking in Residential Care for Older People’ was co-financed by the European Commission in the framework of the PROGRESS Programme of DG Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities. The focus was to collect and develop a set of indicators which directed the question how care homes can measure and manage improvements with regard to the quality of life of their clients, and the related issues of quality of care, management, economic performance and relationships with external stakeholders. Amongst others Vilans carried out an international Delphi study. The project team consisted of seven international partner organisations from four European countries (Germany, Austria, UK, the Netherlands: Vilans).


2002-2004 (supported by the European Commission)

NIZW – one of the predecessors of Vilans – with Henk Nies as scientific director, participated prominently in CARMEN, the Care and Management of Services for Older People Network. This project was supported by the European Commission’s ‘Quality of Life and Management of Human Resources’ Programme (EU 5th Framework Programme). This project involved ten organisations across Europe and it involved more than forty national stakeholders and some fifteen international stakeholders. Under the editorship of Henk Nies and Philip Berman the network produced the workbook Integrating Services for Older People: A resource book for managers. (Spanish version: Integración de Servicios para Personas Mayores. Guia de recursos para coordinadores asistenciales, 2006).The book provides guidelines for people involved in the development of integrated care services, with practice examples from countries around Europe. Its focus was on the management of integrated care at client level, organisation level and system level.


  • Arrue, B., Ambugo, E.A., Baan, C., Barbaglia, G., Billings, J., De Bruin, S., De Weger, S., Espallargues Carrera, M., Hagen, T., Leichsenring, K., Lette, M., Minkman, M., Nies, H., Nijpels, G., Paat-Ahi, G., Ruppe, G., Schlette, S., Stoop, A., Tram, N., Vaage, S.K., Wistow, G., Wosko, P., Zonneveld, N. (2016). Integrated care for older people living at home. Current situation and ambition of sites participating in the SUSTAIN project. SUSTAIN Project, 4th October 2016.
  • Glimmerveen, L., Nies, H. (2015). Integrated community-based dementia care: the Geriant model. International Journal of Integrated Care (accepted).
  • Lara Montero, A., van Duijn, S., Zonneveld, N., Minkman, M., Nies, H. (2016). Integrated Social Services in Europe. European Social Network, Brighton. ISBN: 978-0-9934556-2-9
  • Leichsenring, K., Billings, J., Nies, H. (red) ( 2013). Long-term care in Europe. Improving Policy and Practice. Basingstoke, Palgrave MacMillan.
  • Leichsenring K, Billings J. Nies H. Improving policy and practice in long-term care. In: Leichsenring K, Billings J, Nies H. (eds.). Long-term Care in Europe. Improving Policy and Practice. Basingstoke, Palgrave MacMillan, 2013: 325-336.
  • Mak SMC, Pel-Littel RE, Minkman MMN, Nies HLGR. Measuring quality in long-term care. Kwaliteit in zorg, 2012, 3: 28-31.
  • Minkman, M. (2016) Values and Principles of Integrated Care. International Journal of Integrated Care. 2016;16(1):2.
  • Minkman M. The current state of integrated care. Journal of Integrated Care 2012, 20 (6): 346 –358
  • Minkman M, Vat L en Driessen S. Tools voor ketenzorg. Praktijkvoorbeelden en instrumenten voor de zorg en ondersteuning. Deventer: Kluwer, ISBN 9789013103700, 2013.
  • Minkman, M (2011). Developing integrated care. Towards a development model for integrated care. Thesis. Kluwer, Deventer. ISBN 978-90-13-10026-6.  
  • Minkman, M.M.N., Ahaus, K.T.B. & Huijsman, R. (2011). The empirical validation of the Development Model for Integrated Care. BMC Health Services Research.
  • Minkman, M.M.N., Ahaus, K.T.B., Fabbricotti, I.N., Nabitz, U.W. & Huijsman, R. (2007). A quality management model for integrated care: results from a Delphi and concept mapping study. International Journal for Quality in Health Care 21 (2009a), nr.1, 66-75.
  • Minkman, M.M.N., Ahaus, K.T.B. & Huijsman, R. (2009b). A four phase development model for integrated care services in the Netherlands. BMC Health Services Research 9(42).
  • Minkman M, Ahaus K, Huijsman R (2009). Modellen voor Ketenkwaliteit. In: Ketenzorg, Praktijk in perspektief, H26, p277-291.
  • Minkman M, Ahaus K, Huijsman R (2010). Het Ontwikkelingsmodel voor Ketenzorg. In: M&O, nr5 sept, p26-43.  
  • Minkman, M.M.N., Ahaus, K.T.B. & Huijsman, R. (2007). Performance improvement based on integrated quality management models: what evidence do we have? A systematic literature review. International Journal for Quality in Health Care, 19(2), 90-104.
  • Nies H. Managing effective partnerships in older people’s services. Health and Social Care in the Community, 2006, 14 (5): 391-399.
  • Nies H. Key elements in effective partnership working. In: Glasby J, Dickinson H (eds). International Perspectives on Health and Social Care: Partnership Working in Action. Blackwell, 2009: 56-67.
  • Nies H, Meerveld J, Denis R. Dementia Care: Linear Links and Networks. Healthcare Papers, 2009, vol 10, no.1: 34-43.  
  • Nies, H.L.G.R. (2012). De zorg ontzorgd/t. Inaugurale rede, Amsterdam: Vrije Universiteit.
  • Nies, H., Leichsenring, K, Mak, S. (2013). The emerging identity of long-term care systems in Europe. In: In: Leichsenring, K., Billings, J., Nies, H. (eds.). Long-term Care in Europe. Improving Policy and Practice. Basingstoke, Palgrave MacMillan, pp. 19-41.
  • Nies, H., van der Veen, R. Leichsenring, K. (2013). Quality measurement and improvement in long-term care in Europe. In: OECD. A Goof Life in Old Age? Paris: OECD Publishing, pp. 223-245 (to appear in June 2013).
  • Nies, H., Veen, R. van der, Leichsenring, K. (2013). Quality measurement and improvement in long-term care. In: OECD/European Commission, A good life in old age. Monitoring and Improving Quality in Long-term Care. OECD Health Policy Studies, OECD Publishing, 223-246.
  • Nies H, Leichsenring K. Nine European trends in quality management of long-term care for older people. Kwaliteit in zorg, 2012, 3: 24-27.
  • Nies, H. (2014). Communities as co-producers in integrated care. International Journal of Integrated Care, 14, 30 June; URN:NBN:NL:UI:10-1-114789.  
  • Pel-Littel R, Minkman M, Nies H.  Reaction on: Quality indicators: how clients can learn from it. Tijdschrift voor gerontologie en geriatrie 04/2011; 42(2):64-6.
  • Rodrigues, R., Nies. H. (2013). Making sense of differences – the mixed economy of funding and delivering long-term care. In: Leichsenring, K., Billings, J., Nies, H. (eds.). Long-term Care in Europe. Improving Policy and Practice. Basingstoke, Palgrave MacMillan, pp.191-212.  
  • Zonneveld, N., Vat, L.E., Vlek, H., Minkman, M.M.N. (2017). The development of integrated diabetes care in the Netherlands: a multiplayer self-assessment analysis. BMC Health Services Research.


  • Mr. Henk Herman Nap, Ph.D., M.Sc. has a background in cognitive ergonomics, with a MSc. degree in psychology (Utrecht University), a Ph.D. in Gerontechnology, and a Postdoc in senior gamers. He worked as a project leader and coordinator in various EU projects.
  • Prof. Mirella M.N. Minkman, PhD - Member of the Executive board of Vilans, Centre of Expertise for Long-term Care in the Netherlands. Distinguished Professor, Innovation of the organisation and governance of integrated long-term care, University of Tilburg/TIAS, the Netherlands.
  • Prof. Henk Nies, PhD - Director Strategy & Development Vilans, Centre of Expertise for Long-term Care in the Netherlands. Professor of Organisation and Policy Development in long-term care, VU University Amsterdam.
  • Nick Zonneveld, MSc – Researcher at Vilans, Centre of Expertise for Long-term Care in the Netherlands. PhD-student integrated care, University of Tilburg/TIAS, the Netherlands.