MAASTRICHT. The Huibregtsen Prize 2020 did not go to the Maastricht professor of Care of Older People Jan Hamers. The winners this time – in a very austere ceremony due to COVID-19 – were two researchers from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Johan Hoorn and Elly Konijn, for developing ‘Alice’, a robot girl that helps combat loneliness among the elderly. Hamers was nominated by the MUMC+ for his work as leader of the Living Lab in Ageing and Long-Term Care.
Jan Hamers was one of six nominees. From the jury report: “Hamers’ exceptional drive, which is visible both in his career path – from nurse to professor – and in the actual implementation of his research, is prizeworthy.” Also: “Hamers is an inspirator and a connector, who will not rest until his findings have found a place in practice.”
"Big words", Hamers laughs modestly. "You wonder where they get it." He heard in June that the MUMC+ had nominated him and in mid-August that he had been selected by the jury. "I went there without expectations. The MUMC+ nomination is the most important to me. It shows the internal appreciation, that is the best appreciation you can get. I have seen scientists who were adored outside their own university, but internally were given the cold shoulder. I would rather have it the other way around. "
The Huibregtsen Prize is meant for recently completed, scientifically innovative research projects with clear social relevance. Every year, a minimum of four and a maximum of six projects are nominated. The winner receives a sculpture, a workshop, and an amount of €25,000, earmarked for research activities.
Hamers did, however, receive some good news this summer. The Dutch Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sports awarded a subsidy of 1.7 million euro to a study into the impact of moving house in nursing care. The research is co-ordinated by the Living Lab in Ageing and Long-Term Care.
There are several reasons why the elderly in a nursing home have to move: the building is antiquated, the type of care needed has changed, or there are serious behavioural problems. The Maastricht researchers are going to look into how moving within a nursing home can be done so that it contributes towards the quality of life and the quality of care.