Prevention, Work & Health: innovations to keep people healthy

The future health and development of young people, workers and organizations calls for both societal and technological innovations. “At TNO, we develop technological and societal innovations that enable the population to stay healthy and make a productive contribution to society from early childhood until old age,’’ says Prof. Paulien Bongers, director of Prevention, Work & Health.

While good health goes hand in hand with living life to the full, it is also a prerequisite to participating fully in society. In addition to good health and vitality, young people and workers need to have the right skills, motivation and social networks to be able to rise to the challenges of the future. Technological innovations are required if they are to receive the necessary support, as well as innovations in family life, education, businesses and the labour market. These innovations are particularly important nowadays, as we live in a society which is changing at an exceptional rate due to the constant introduction of new technologies.

The great thing is that these new technologies also bring opportunities with them. We develop societal and technological innovations that contribute to the health and resilience of our young people and working population, and help organizations to continually innovate and improve.  As a result of our innovations, young people and employees are able to develop themselves and make a worthwhile contribution to society, which, in turn, stimulates economic development.  Together with a large number of partners, we carry out analyses and develop instruments and solutions that facilitate innovations. These instruments and solutions are frequently put to the proof at testing grounds. We use the expertise that we have in the fields of youth, employment and health to support municipalities, now that they have primary responsibility for these areas.

Growing up

One of our key focus areas is ensuring that children grow up healthily and safely - a task that starts before the child is even conceived. An increasing amount of research suggests that the first thousand days of a child’s life, starting from conception, are critical for a good start in life, and thus for increasing opportunities and development later on. We help to increase resilience in children and young people by developing initiatives such as Dappere Dino’s (Brave Dinos), a programme that teaches children how to cope with their parents’ divorce. This programme reduces the negative impact divorce has on children, allowing them to grow up happier.

Working healthily

It is important for both the working population and society as a whole that as many people as possible are able to work and remain in work. We are therefore working on methods to keep staff motivated, deployable and productive in an increasingly flexible labour market. Together with the business community and the government, we have developed a series of serious games. Within the context of one of these games, managers are able to gain insight into how their managerial method influences the work pressure their employees experience. They can use the game to discover and experiment with different managerial methods.

Regional level

Since 2015, municipalities have been responsible for employment, youth care services and social support. Together with our partners, we use our knowledge to show the municipalities how to approach these areas effectively. We bolster the expertise of professionals in the fields of youth care services and employment, and support the implementing agencies in their transition to working methodically in a learning organization. In Amsterdam-Noord, for example, we are working with all healthcare providers, the Department for Work and Income, and welfare organizations, such as debt assistance, to develop an integrated approach for people with multiple problems. Thanks to this new approach, there is now greater social participation among this group of residents, and they have experienced an improvement in their physical health and mental well-being. They have also become more self-sufficient: they are now able to do things that they were not originally capable of or did not think they were capable of. The services provided by each of the parties are now financed collectively, which also helps to reduce healthcare costs.

If you would like to find out more about our Prevention, Work & Health activities, continue reading about our topics and projects, or get in touch with us.

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Prof. Dr. ir. Paulien Bongers

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Prof. Dr. ir. Paulien Bongers

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  • prevention
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