Theater Veder was established out of a desire to do things differently. While working as a nurse, founder Maria Westra noticed there was hardly ever any time for genuine contact between people in health care. She felt she needed to do something to contribute to change.

So much work to do
In one of the hospitals where Maria Westra – now director of Theatre Veder – worked, a man was waiting for hours for a taxi to pick him up to move to a different nursing home. He was sat alone, on a bench in the hallway. Every now and then, Westra, with the best intentions, would talk to him while passing: “Have you still not been picked up? That is unfortunate.” But the man suffered from memory problems and had difficulty communicating, therefore he never replied. Westra understood that what she really should do, was sit with him for a while. Only then there would be a chance of actually engaging with him. But what would her superiors and colleagues think of her? There was just so much work left to do! She did not go and sit next to the man. But the feeling that something about that situation was not right, never let go of her.

Focus on contact
After a dramatic life-changing event, Westra decided to give her life a different direction. In 2004 filmmaker Theo van Gogh was murdered in front of her eyes in her hometown Amsterdam. The inability of people to communicate properly, in a humane way, was her reason to focus on contact. She wanted to do something with this inability of people to establish reciprocal contact, or to connect with each other. This lead to the establishment of The Veder Foundation in 2005, a non-profit organization, aiming to spread the Veder Method as a contact method.

The foundation’s first living room performances were performed in 2006. Those interactive performances were put on by professional actors in which residents are tempted into making contact. They showed that music and theatre, but also poetry were very efficient tools in establishing moments of contact.

Transitional program
The success of the Veder Method led to The Veder Foundation being able to take part in a government-funded transitional programme for long term care between 2008 and 2010, meant to encourage promising new initiatives improving the quality of long term care in The Netherlands. Because of the funds, the Veder Method could be expanded nationally and an extensive programme of training and courses could be developed to spread the method to care institutions and caregivers. Now, Veder consists of a team of professional actors, trainers and coaches, nearly all experienced with working in both care settings and art organizations.

Social business case
During the transition programme Veder developed a Social business case. This provides more insight into what the Veder Method can bring to care organizations.