Just imagine a donut: such a circle of sweet sticky dough with a hole in the middle. Irresistibly tasty, but without a hole it would be an inedible dough clump.

For me, the hole in the middle represents the space for innovation in healthcare: the professional space to make decisions with the patient in line with his or her needs and preferences. How does the approach contribute to the ability of the patient to adapt and to self-manage, in the light of social, mental and physical challenges of life? My strength is working together on connections and solutions that matter to vulnerable people.

“What matters to them”

In the Netherlands we love to walk on the sticky dough edge. This edge symbolizes for me the law and regulations. It’s hard to get rid of this, the hole is often very small. This is rooted in us: “if you stick to the rules it is good”. The principle of equality, that equal cases are entitled to equal treatment, is something that we find difficult to overcome. Do we achieve the best outcomes for patients? Do we know what’s best for the patient, do we know what the patient is experiencing and how the community is involved? My philosophy is to treat cases as they differ and work on equal outcomes, being “What matters” to patient and family. How are laws and regulations serving here? What does this demand from patients, professionals, organizations and society?

Integrated care

My ambition is to teach organizations and professionals to use the space in the middle of the donut. How can you connect the system world and the patient world of experience, and work together to achieve the best outcomes for the patient, appropriate to his of her life? This requires a broad multidisciplinary approach, acting from a patient and families’ point of view and one that integrates the possibilities of society. For this, teamplay and shared decision-making are necessary in the interaction of professionals with patients and family. Organizations must also be set up for this, where it is important to have an eye for context and history.

Children’s palliative care

YChildren’s palliative care has a major impact on all those involved: the sick child, family, friends, neighbours, school and the rest of the community. It affects the most existential fear of people and that also applies to the many involved professionals working in and outside the hospital. Specific attention is necessary so that the child and family can count on adequate and expert care and support that contributes to the quality of life. Since 2007 I have been actively working for the PAL Foundation, Palliative expertise for children, on the recognition, development and embedding of children’s palliative care in the Netherlands. In addition, I have been working on the Copilot project, an initiative of the program We’ll see you, since 2018. In the project we focus on families with a child with very severe mental and multiple disabilities. High qualitive care for this vulnerable children requires an attitude of ‘being there’ and ‘do whatever it takes’. My ambition is that this approach becomes much more obvious in the broad field of healthcare, especially for vulnerable people.

Innovator, advisor and researcher in the broad field of healthcare.

“My dream is a better world for vulnerable people. My ambition is coming to creative connections and innovative solutions together with others.”

Stephanie Vallianatos

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