Children’s hospice ZonnaCare of specialised children’s nurse and music therapist


Our motto is to do what we enjoy and what we are good at.

Annemieke’s story

I started ZonnaCare in 2004. The objective I had in mind can be inferred from the previous 14 years. In 1994, I completed the general nursing degree programme at the (now called) Leiden University Medical Centre. During my internship at the paediatric ward, I became particularly interested in the care for children, the way they handle their illness and the fact that I had to deal with three instead of one person: the child and its parents/carers. I decided to follow the children’s nursing specialisation and obtained my diploma in February 1996. For the next eight years, I put my heart and soul into working at the children’s section specialised in bone marrow transplantation. During that time, I also completed the haematology and children’s oncology programmes. Eventually, I started to feel disappointed about the (dis)balance between the cure (care aimed at recovery/medical intervention) and care (long-term care/therapy/alleviation of complaints). As a result of time pressure, the psycho-social aspects get lost in the mire of the highly-complex technical nursing care requirements. I often wondered whether the hospital indeed is the best place to be for children in the palliative stages. These considerations combined with our move  from Voorhout to Den Dolder in 2004 offered enough reasons to take a new deliberate step: to start as a self-employed health care provider that strives to obtain a sound balance between cure and care. As a pioneer in this field, I began working via care providing bureaus and was placed in the Specialist Team Team Midden Nederland (STMN) as well as the Johannes Hospice in Vleuten (JHV). Organisational reasons increasingly led me to focus on one-to-one home care based on the individual care budget (PGB). Six years later, I set up a home practice and realised my dream! Moreover, my partner is a musical therapist and together we are able to provide nursing care as well as musical therapy, as a result of which it has become possible indeed to offer in our children’s hospice pleasant and relaxed overnight stays for care-intensive children.

Matthijs’ story

Matthijs, partner of Annemieke, has passed away far too young at the 14th of September 2021. The growth and prosperity of children’s hospice ZonnaCare are partly due to his talents, commitment and enthusiasm, as may be evident from his own words.
In loving memory.

I have been following and admiring Annemieke’s career developments from close up. Where possible, I have always been happy to support her in her efforts. I grew up with music, as my father was a church organist and my mother a singer. When I was ten, I was allowed to choose an instrument for myself and I chose the transverse flute. During my flute lessons, I also played the piano which is still to be found in my parents’ home, right next to the organ. I preferred light music and fell in love with the sound of the saxophone. Together with my brother and a friend, we created the ‘Happy Hour Jazz Band’ and performed to our hearts content. I also started to offer piano lessons, mainly to children, and I thoroughly enjoyed playing the grand piano for people with a mental impairment during the services of the Willem van den Bergh community in Noordwijk for nearly ten years. For three years, I contributed musically to the services in the youth correctional facility Teylingereind in Sassenheim. This special location and these special youngsters taught me that music has the ability to harmonise and bring people closer together. In addition, as a pianist and later as a conductor, I led a gospel choir to which end I completed the choir conducting, music theory and singing techniques programme at the former Hilversum Music Academy. One special day, I was allowed to accompany a professional singer for a large audience. It touched me personally in seeing how we were able to share the finely attuned music with our public in such a wonderful way.   During my psychology studies, I worked as an usher in the Stadsgehoorzaal (Concert Hall) in Leiden. This is where I was happy to develop my creativity with regard to audio and visual techniques. Later, as the owner of a copy and design company, I learned that the interaction with my clients gave me a lot of satisfaction. Seven years thereafter, I trained to become a marketing communication adviser at Utrecht University, particularly aimed at the wider communication to specific target groups. In short, communication and music are my passions and I have now embraced the challenge to combine these with entrepreneurship. A musical philosopher once wrote ‘Music touches those layers in a human being that one cannot touch with words.’ Being touched by music and connecting with others has a healing effect. That’s what I really enjoy making possible!