Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?
Within the next ten years, the number of elderly people in Norway will double. With this older population comes a dramatic increase in the ailments that arise with aging, particularly dementia. Norway is renowned for a highly functioning and comprehensive health care system, yet there is limited support and capacity for the growing numbers of people with dementia and the families and friends that surround them. Heidi estimates that there are over 300 people directly affected by each person who suffers from dementia.
The disease of dementia goes hand in hand with denial. There are roughly 80,000 dementia sufferers in Norway, with 25,000O of those suffering from early stage dementia. However, due to fear, stigma, and slow onset there is a strong incentive to rationalize away symptoms. On average, people suffer from dementia for ten to fifteen years before seeking treatment. As such, the current system is designed for late stage sufferers. More, there is a limited amount of expertise about how to treat cognitive disability that emerges with dementia, but a lot of options in terms of supporting families. As a result, a large percentage of dementia efforts ignore the patient and focus on the family around them.
Being a citizen in Norway—and other Nordic/Scandinavian nations—carries with it an expectation of being taken care of by the State. However, the national Norwegian Dementia Plan focuses on diagnosis but does not provide for training or resources for doctors—there is minimal understanding or commitment to prevention or treatment as would be present with other disease groups.
Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!
Heidi is building a new resource in society for people with dementia that combines an emphasis on early diagnosis and prevention, focusing on what remains rather than what they have lost. She has designed a hand-tailored treatment program that draws on a person’s life-long qualities to place them at the center of care. Heidi's organization, NOEN has created a caregiving population equipped with skills to increase the quality of life.
She is adding a private layer to the state system and shifting away from end-stage damage control to a focus on health outcomes, quality of life, and early action. Heidi provides a subscription service to allow dementia sufferers, their families, and municipalities to have regular physical activity, classes, and other supports that are designed around the personality, dreams, and possibilities of the person—the “opposite of symptoms.” Heidi is re-modeling existing societal structures to include revitalizing options provided in an accessible way for people with dementia as well as for their families. Her programs are designed around preventing, or slowing, further deterioration, and allow sufferers to remain at home for years longer--saving the health system millions. She utilizes a phone app system to gather data on each participant and assess progress, creating a wealth of information to guide treatment nationally.
Heidi’s company NOEN currently delivers assistance and coaching to people in three municipalities all over Norway, working with a non-dividend franchise business model. She also works actively to hire people who have previously been outside the labor-market, adding another social dimension to her work.