Bekijk ons Publieksjaarverslag over 2023:

In 2023 vierden we ons eerste lustrum! In dit publieksjaarverslag koppelen we activiteiten uti het jaar dat achter ons ligt met het hier en nu en de toekomst. Bekijk 'm hier.


Online Visiting

Status: Ongoing

On this page:



Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, visiting people in a residential care setting has become more difficult. Many of us have been discovering alternative, digital ways of staying in touch, such as over video calls, film clips and FaceTime. As part of the research project ‘Online Visiting’ (Digitaal op bezoek), we would like to hear about your first-hand experiences.

Online visiting

The coronavirus has turned people’s lives upside down – not least, people with a disability who live in a residential care setting. Their contact with family and friends has been abruptly curtailed. They are not allowed to receive visitors (or only very occasionally), nor are they allowed to visit family or friends. This reduction in social contact can have a major impact on the mental and physical health of such residents. The standard advice on how to reduce this impact is to make more use of phone calls or, even better, video calls, so that the callers can see as well as hear each other.

Benefits to practice

However, careful consideration should be given to which forms of contact work for which target groups. What do residents and their families actually want? Do residents enjoy online visits as a supplement to – or substitute for – in-person visits? And what is practically feasible, not only for the residents themselves and their families but also for the healthcare professionals? We are working together with three other academic collaborative centres ’s Heeren Loo (VU Amsterdam), Bartiméus (VU Amsterdam) and Leven met een Verstandelijke Beperking (Tilburg University) and client organisation KansPlus to find out for whom online visiting is both feasible and desirable. To ensure that residents, relatives and healthcare professionals can all make optimal use of the available online visiting options, the Vereniging Gehandicaptenzorg Nederland (VGN), Vilans and the University of Twente have been asked for their input on sustainable implementation.   

The objective is to combine scientific knowledge with the hands-on experiences of residents, relatives, professionals and volunteers to develop a set of guidelines for tailored online visiting. By taking into account the prerequisites for online visits and considering what help residential care locations need, we can help to create the best possible online visiting experiences for both residents and their loved ones.

About the researchers

Read more about Lotte Piekema

Lotte Piekema

University of Groningen

What is your role within the Academic Collaborative Centre related to people with PIMD?

I am a researcher working on the Online Visiting project. The aim of this project is to acquire insight into the different needs and wishes of residents and their loved ones when it comes to using ICT tools to facilitate social contact. Online visiting can help to soften the impact at times when in-person visiting is not possible, or it can be used to supplement in-person visits. We want to gather as much information as possible by asking residents, their loved ones, volunteers, professionals, managers and board members to share their experiences and insights. That information can then be used as the basis for a set of practical guidelines on the sustainable implementation of ICT tools.

What do you hope to achieve?

My goal is to ease the burden on families in this target group, so that they can spend less time making the necessary care arrangements or working out how to make use of the various provisions and more time just enjoying their time together. To achieve this goal, we need to combine our scientific knowledge with the knowledge and experience of the families in our target group.

Read more about Annet ten Brug

Annet ten Brug

Senior researcher
University of Groningen

What is your role within the Academic Collaborative Centre related to people with PIMD?

As a senior researcher, I am conducting research into cultural participation and the quality of life of people with PIMD and their loved ones. My specific focus is on sensory stimulation, such as reading and snoezelen, and the quality of family life. Alongside my work for the Academic Collaborative Centre related to people with PIMD, I am a lecturer within the Department of Special Needs Education at the University of Groningen.

What do you hope to achieve?

Fortunately, science is no longer as far removed from the ‘real world’ as it used to be, but I hope to see the gap between science and practice narrowed even further. The closer we work together with people with first-hand experience and with healthcare professionals, the greater the chance that our research results will be both relevant and usable.