ESN Working Group on Ageing and Care
The third meeting of the ESN Working Group on Ageing and Care took place in Seville, Spain, on 8-9 September and was hosted by the ESN member organisation, the Regional Ministry of Equality and Social Policies of the Regional Government of Andalucia. Over the course of two days, participants from eight countries (Austria, Belgium, Iceland, Germany, Latvia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom) discussed European and national policy and practices that support older people’s autonomy and promote their participation.
European initiatives for active ageing
According to the WHO, active ageing allows people to realise their potential for physical, social and mental wellbeing across the life course. The role of local public social services is key because they implement active ageing measures that support older people, who are already in need of care, to be socially included and to live a quality life.
Participants discussed the regional and local use of the Active Ageing Index, a tool to measure the extent to which older people can realise their full potential in terms of employment, participation in social and cultural life and independent living. They also learnt about two European initiatives: AFE INNOVNET, a project for the development of age-friendly environments, and ICT-AGE, a research project that promotes the use of technology-based solutions to enable older people to continue living at home.
National and regional frameworks for integrated care
In most countries, there is some guidance at national, regional or local level to promote initiatives that aim to delay the need for long-term care in institutions and support active participation of older people.
For example, the Andalusian White Book on Active Ageing aims to promote participation, healthy living, security and long‐life learning. Throughout the region, 168 ‘Active Participation Centers’ have been set up reaching out to over 600,000 people. We visited one of the centres in Seville and learnt about the social, cultural, recreational and sporting activities, their health promotion programmes, self‐help activities, advice and advocacy services, and volunteer programmes.
Analysis of practices on active ageing
The analysis of practice examples (provided by the working group members) stressed that local public social services are crucial in shaping communities that respond to the needs of ageing populations. We looked at practices focusing on volunteering, dementia care, citizen’s advice bureaus, prevention and rehabilitation.
During the meeting, participants stressed that local authorities act as a facilitator to create inclusive communities for all by identifying and involving citizens and different organisations in the community. There is a lot of potential which could be untapped by involving older people in the decision making process and the delivery of services. In order to implement this enabling and activating approach, we found out how managers of services provide training on change management amongst professionals. Our analysis also shows that it is key to have a preventative approach, but many participants also noted that they face problems in evaluating the effects of their prevention programmes even though information on the effects would help them to convince policy-makers to invest in such measures.