Jeroen Hasselaar has been appointed professor by special appointment of Social Empowerment in Palliative Care at the Radboud University Medical Center / Radboud University. This chair was partially established by the Agora Foundation. Hasselaar investigates the social aspects of care for incurably ill people. He wants to better integrate formal and informal care networks and thus improve the well-being of people in the palliative phase and their loved ones.
'Many people think of palliative care primarily in terms of physical care, such as medication. I would like to see more attention paid to the social aspects of care and well-being', says Jeroen Hasselaar. ‘Incurably ill people and their loved ones need much broader support than just the medical. For example, they run into questions about their will, their values, about how to be remembered, and the consequences for their relatives. I want to contribute with research to their quality of life in the last phase of life.'
Hasselaar therefore investigates the social aspects of palliative care, together with the Agora Foundation, the national knowledge and development organization that connects the palliative (care) approach with the social domain. Hasselaar: 'I study what people in the last phase need in terms of care and support. These needs cannot always be captured in existing care frameworks and require good cooperation and integration of care by the GP, in the hospital and in the patient's own environment. This involves the patient's broad social wellbeing, based on a person-centred approach.'
Longer at home
According to Hasselaar, palliative care should be more closely linked to regular care. ‘We must not lose sight of the fact that dying and suffering are not specifically medical matters. They have a context of people bearing it together,' he explains. 'Medical care can connect more with the caring community. We see that the number of people with incurable illnesses in the Netherlands is rising, and that they are being treated and cared for increasingly, and for a longer period, in a home environment. How do we organize this care in a sustainable way? What roles do close relatives, neighbors and informal caregivers play? What regulations apply? These are important questions for me.’
One condition for keeping people at home is that the healthcare and social domains offer the right help for care and support at home. ‘Together with Agora we are going to work on experimental projects in which, for example, the alderman talks with general practitioners, district nurses and other people from primary care. They work together using practical cases to discuss how they can best support people with incurable illnesses and their loved ones. In this way, we investigate how we can organize care in a more sustainable way and improve palliative care in the Netherlands and in Europe.'
Hasselaar (Veenendaal, 1976) studied Health Sciences at Erasmus University and Applied Ethics at Utrecht University. He later attended the one-year Global Clinical Scholars Research Training at Harvard Medical School. He received his PhD from Radboudumc in 2010 for his thesis, entitled Medical and ethical aspects of palliative sedation practice in the Netherlands: from controversy to guideline and beyond. For this he studied the practice of palliative sedation with attention to the medical and ethical aspects, and evaluated the first national guideline for palliative sedation.
After his PhD, Hasselaar stayed with the Department of anesthesiology, pain and palliative care of the Radboudumc, where he now works as an associate professor. In addition, he held advisory positions at the Dutch Federation of UMCs (NFU). Here he was responsible for setting up the first national program for palliative care, together with the Agora Foundation, among others. Since 2020, he also works as department head of Primary care research at Nivel. The chair will be part of the Department of Primary Care Medicine at Radboudumc. The appointment is effective May 1, 2022.
Hasselaar received a silver young investigator award from the European Association for Palliative Care and he was a participant in the first Radboudumc talent track (Galileo). In addition to Dutch grants from NWO, KWF and ZonMw, he received several European grants to lead international research. Hasselaar is also vice president of the European Association for Palliative care and board member of the Dutch professional association for palliative care, Palliactief.
About the Agora Foundation
Agora is a national knowledge and development organization that focuses on the quality of life for people with incurable diseases, chronic conditions or vulnerability due to aging, and their loved ones. So that they receive the care and support that matches their values, needs and social environment. To achieve this, Agora supports professionals and organizations in care, meaningfulness and the social domain in good local cooperation around people in the last phase of their lives.
Agora's unique role is to increase awareness of people's palliative care needs and to connect different perspectives on palliative care. To this end, they want to help realize sustainable change and bridge the gap between care and the social domain. They do this in innovative projects, together with professionals and volunteers from care and welfare at the local level, supported by scientific insights.