Netherlands visit
Ayodeji ‘DJ’ Owoyomi, Sonya Williams, Bahaa Barsoum

Three A.G. Rhodes staff members traveled to the Netherlands in June as part of an exchange program that A.G. Rhodes has with Marga Klompé, a non-governmental organization that operates nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the Netherlands.

Bahaa Barsoum, Director of Nursing at A.G. Rhodes of Atlanta, Ayodeji ‘DJ’ Owoyomi, Director of Rehabilitation at Wesley Woods, and Sonya Williams, Recreational Therapist at Cobb, spent several days touring more than 10 facilities and observing similarities and differences in how the United States and Netherlands provide care for older adults.

“In the past 10-15 years, they (the Dutch) have changed their approach to caring for seniors, and they’ve achieved more positive results,” said Owoyomi. “This positive change is something that we would like to better understand and to see how it might help us plan for the future of more person-centered care at A.G. Rhodes.”

A common model of care in the Netherlands involves a small group system where one caregiver works with six to eight residents. Caregivers are cross-trained to have multiple job roles within that setting which creates an environment where they develop a closer relationship with the residents. Conversely, in the United States, staff members are typically assigned to one particular job or department, such as activities or housekeeping.

“Even with staff members being responsible for multiple tasks in the facilities we saw in the Netherlands, they didn’t seem stressed or look like they were in a hurry,” said Barsoum. “I think cross-training employees at A.G. Rhodes would be a benefit to the residents and staff, and would enhance the relationship.”

A.G. Rhodes staff also observed how active residents were in the Netherlands, which resulted in less wheelchair use, and increased mobility.

“What impressed me most was how this culture promotes lots of exercise and physical activity,” said Williams. “So many of them in the community are still riding their bikes and playing tennis well into their 70s.”

Barsoum, Owoyomi and Williams were all impressed by their visit, and plan to incorporate some of the best practices they observed, especially in the area of dementia care.

“It was a great eye-opening experience that had a positive influence on me and my colleagues,” said Owoyomi. “It changes my view of doing things and ability to listen more attentively, especially when it relates to residents with dementia.”

“As a health care professional, I felt as though it was an experience of a lifetime,” said Williams.

Click here to read about three Marga Klompé staff members who visited A.G. Rhodes last year.