Amsterdam Research Institute for Societal Innovation

Research in to loneliness amongst the elderly

A method for a social network ("Natuurlijk een netwerk coach")


The research group Community Care at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences has a few streams of knowledge: informal care, social inclusion and network development. This research is mostly part of the latter and focuses on the need of a social network for our wellbeing. The current research that we conduct revolves around a specific network method (‘Natuurlijk een netwerkcoach!’) which is created to (re)build and strengthen networks of vulnerable citizens. In this intervention a network coach (volunteer or professional) and a citizen become partners in (re)building the social network of that citizen.

During a period of time (average of 9 months) they will evaluate the social network of the person and try to see in what ways the network can be strengthened. What kind of needs does this person have in (re)building (new) friendships and strengthening the social network? Why does her/his social network not match the desires of this person? Do social isolation or loneliness play a role?

This intervention, that has proven its success in the Netherlands, seems to lack a specific adaptation for the elderly. Older people seem to be in different or more complex situations that the method cannot solve. In this research we scrutinize the problems of the use of this intervention for the elderly and see how we can adapt the method. Furthermore we find out if it matches the general desires of older people in strengthening their network and decreasing loneliness.The main focus of the research is how to develop an intervention that can also decrease loneliness and social isolation. In this case it is important to mention that the theoretical framework of this research is innovatory. By using the What Works principles – developed in - and mainly used for rehabilitation – we aim to create new interdisciplinary ways of doing research. These principles have never been used in this field of research. It allows for this research to move beyond a focus on the intervention and used method, and it forces the researcher to inquire the processes that take place prior to the network method as well.

Published by  ARISI 24 January 2017

Project Info

Start date 01 Aug 2016
End date 01 Aug 2017


Ymke Kelders