Together we initiate, facilitate, and conduct research

Our work takes place within the following focus areas: interventions, organisation of care, participation, fitting (medical) care, technology

UNC-ZH: who are we?

The University Network for the Care sector South Holland (UNC-ZH) is a collaboration between Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) and eleven long-term care institutions in the province of South Holland. UNC-ZH aims to initiate, facilitate, and conduct scientific research together with care practice.

Our primary focus is on issues, problems, and questions within the practical context of elderly care. The aim of the joint implementation of scientific research is to improve the quality of life of care-dependent older people, to improve quality of care, and to create a bridge between intramural and extramural care.
In addition, UNC-ZH focuses on the transfer of knowledge and the exchange of expertise between members within the network, as well as on the further dissemination of innovative findings from scientific research on topics relevant to our network.

In our academic long-term care research network, we want to improve care for older people, ranging from fully independent living at home to 24-hour supervision and care provided in long-term care facilities. We do so through scientific research and in collaboration with researchers, healthcare professionals, and older persons or their representatives.


We work with five focus areas within UNC-ZH. The key points 'recovery' and 'well-being' are overarching: all research relates to one or both. Recovery is literally healing and returning to a previous, better state. It is all about improving functioning, reducing limitations that result from an underlying disorder or disease, and increasing participation. Well-being relates to the extent to which a person is satisfied, comfortable, healthy, or happy with his or her life. Physical and psychosocial health and living circumstances determine a person's level of well-being.

The five focus areas are


An intervention is a - theoretically and practically well thought-out - systematic approach to prevention, support, and help with specific risks and problems in order to improve the functioning and quality of life of (a group of) frail older persons. For example, in the focus area 'Interventions', interventions may focus on behaviour, but also on daily operational activities, or may be part of a change process aimed at older people, relatives and staff.

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Organisation of care

The 'Organisation of care' area focuses on improving and promoting the quality of care for older people. It describes how treatment, support and care for frail older people and their families are organised from the perspective of the older person (needs-based). The guiding principle is the provision of high-quality integrated care based on interdisciplinary cooperation.

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Research in the focus area 'Participation' focuses on the involvement of both older people and their loved ones and family. Successful cooperation between care providers, researchers, the elderly and their relatives is essential for a good quality of life for the older persons and their loved ones. Involving older persons and their loved ones can help improve the quality of our research through better alignment with their experiential knowledge, ideas, needs and priorities. An effective design of this involvement is very important in this respect.

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Fitting (medical) care

Research in the focus area 'Fitting (medical) care' generates scientific knowledge that contributes to evidence-based medicine (EBM) and evidence-based practice (EBP), allowing doctors and other healthcare professionals to integrate new and up-to-date knowledge with their clinical expertise and the preferences of clients and their families. The research focuses on stopping unnecessary (medical) interventions, but also on improving care and identifying factors that affect quality of life and quality of dying.

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Technology is increasingly being used in the care of older people, both at home and in nursing homes. Research in this area focuses on how technology can contribute to better quality of care and quality of life for older people, and also how it can support care workers in their daily work.

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Participating care-institutions

The University Network for the Care sector South Holland (UNC-ZH) is a collaboration between Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) and eleven long-term care institutions in the province of South Holland. Below you will find the participating organizations.