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Combating loneliness in Living Lab

Master's students of Vitality & Ageing work together with older individuals in the so-called ‘Living Lab’ to combat loneliness. You can watch four brief video’s that show their creative solutions for the course ‘the older individual’ that is coordinated by health psychologist Sandra van Dijk and former general practitioner Wim Lely.

“The workshops together with elderly were very useful. They provided lots of insights regarding their perspective of the problem”

Sandra van Dijk: 'In the Living lab there is much room for cocreation to develop interventions. Students team up with older individuals from the Elderly Counsel Health and Wellbeing South-Holland North. This year we started a collaboration with both the Municipality of Leiden and the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports. The latter has initiated the nationwide platform ‘one against loneliness’. The Municipality and the Ministry asked students to find a solution for specific practice-based problems. The municipality challenged students for example to develop more meeting opportunities for home-dwelling elderly’.

In the course The Older Individual of the international master Vitality & Ageing the Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) collaborates with the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FSW). Students awarded the course with the best course in 2018.
LUMC-onderwijsprijs Sandra van Dijk en haar collega's bij LUMC voor 'The Older Individual’

“I even think that the large majority of the ideas that we devised with our team was due to the collaboration with elderly”


'As a result of the discussions and cocreation with elderly, students discover that especially the input of older people is important for developing innovations that really fit the needs of this target population’ emphasizes Yvonne Drewes, coordinator of Vitality & Ageing. 'Involving the perspective of the target population is crucial’. Van Dijk adds: 'This education is also well aligned with the workshops of the Healthy University Leiden which are developed in the course Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. Also in the course Health Psychology in Practice attention is allocated to interventions to prevent or diminish loneliness.

Examples of positive collaboration and inspiration

Among Municipalities and the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports there is a huge interest in stimulating these kind of collaborations with the University. The Ministry has put the brief videos of students in the spotlights as a good illustration for positive collaboration, as well as a source for inspiration to combat loneliness. 

How do you easily meet others in the neighborhood? And how can Virtual Reality (VR) play a role? What are the sports opportunities? How do you keep in touch without a house call?.

Watch the videos

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