bouwens& Princess Máxima Center
The brand new Princess Máxima Center combines both care and research in the field of childhood cancer on one location. Children are often admitted to receive treatment for long periods of time. Every day, bouwens& Security Hosts give their all to assist and where possible support the children, their families, the doctors, nurses, and additional staff.
How a hospital becomes a home
Mid 2017, the PMC approached bouwens& with the request to coordinate and execute the security of the then being build new care and research facility. Not your average project, even for an experienced hospitality specialist. From day one, The PMC stressed that it did not want to be a hospital. It was to be a highly specialized facility where care and research walk hand in hand, and where people require a warm and compassionate style of service.
The human factor
In the PMC, children and their parents are housed in adjacent rooms that are connected by sliding doors. This offers children the safe feeling of being close to their parents at all times. The center is completely focused on not interrupting the children’s development. If they are able to, they are offered a range of possibilities for moving, playing, learning, and relaxing.
The playing areas have been created in a way that stimulates children to explore. In the ‘ontdekplek’ (discovery place), the boys and girls learn all about the processes that are going on in their bodies. Philips kindly donated a replica of an MRI scanner, in which the young patients practice how to lay still with a pedagogic counsellor.
In such an environment, security agents need to be approachable and accessible. They have to be people with a passion for hospitality that comes from within. Effectively, these security officers are just as much hosts, or maybe even more so. The philosophy of bouwens&, working with their own invention the Security Host for years now, matched PMC’s intention from the start.
For the PMC even more so than for our other partners’ offices, personality and emotional characteristics of the candidates were deciding during the recruitment and selection process. Of course we checked their credentials and skills, but other questions quickly became more important. How accessible is someone? How does someone look from the perspective of a child? In what way is a candidate vulnerable to the things that happen every day at the PMC?
During our conversations with candidates it became clear to us that we had to be extremely honest about what was waiting for them on this job. We used Simonka de Jong’s documentary Pilotenmasker to show candidates the daily reality at the PMC. No light material, but essential for the candidates to understand their possible future working environment. Some of the candidates decided that they were not ready for such an intense job.
After completion of the building, it was finally time for the children to move in and explore their new home. From day one it was clear that service in this environment was not and would never be normal. Even the most experienced people in the team had to get adjusted to this completely new challenge.
Strong personality or not, the PMC leaves an impression with everyone. You are surrounded by young, helpless children who often lose their hair and have to be fed through a tube. Parents sometimes receive the worst news of their lives, and understandably don’t always react reasonably or predictably. Making sure all these people fee safe and supported, while also monitoring the general safety situation is a tough job!
We care for those who care for those in need
Besides being an extremely rewarding job, the reality of working at the PMC is that it can have a severe impact on a person. Our Security Hosts are strong and balanced people, but we are focused on their constant wellbeing. They share and discuss things that made an impact with each other, and their Security Manager is always available for support, or just to listen.
Luckily, the majority of the Security Hosts is extremely satisfied with and proud of their work at the PMC. They wouldn’t change it for anything in the world.