The Slovenia Times

SI4CARE project sheds light on ageing in remote areas

Health & Medicine
An international conference on active and healthy ageing held as part of the closing event of the SI4CARE project for comprehensive healthcare of the ageing poipulation in the Adriatic-Ionian region.
Photo: Boštjan Podlogar/STA

The first international conference on active and healthy ageing was held in Ljubljana this week, addressing the subject of accessibility of healthcare in remote areas of the Adriatic-Ionian region and development of telemedicine through the lens of the international project SI4CARE. Participating countries signed an agreement for healthy ageing.

An ageing population is a challenge in Slovenia and elsewhere in Europe that has to be addressed. The demand for social and health care for the elderly is increasing, as ensuring quality care, stigmatisation and ageism are already affecting the society and its future, experts said.

Push for social innovation

Participating countries signed a memorandum of understanding for healthy and socially engaged ageing. The agreement is aimed at creating an efficient international system where social innovation would be applied in health services in the face of an ageing population. The signing members agree that the responsibilities and tasks of public administration and stakeholders in healthcare, detailed in the transnational strategy, are key for successful development of long-term care.

The memorandum was signed as part of SI4CARE, an international project oriented towards social care and health care of the elderly in the Adriatic-Ionian region. It focuses on providing care to those living in remote areas and promotes development of telemedicine.

The project was initiated by a consortium of researchers from the University of Ljubljana together with the Jožef Stefan Institute and associated partners from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Greece, Croatia, Italy, and Serbia.

The €2.37 million project is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund under the Adriatic-Ionian transnational programme.

According to project participant Guido Piccoli, SI4CARE brings together the academics that develop ideas and private companies that work on solutions, while public administration has an important role in developing policies to encourage digitalisation.

"This is an integral story that we must all tackle and work on it together," said Vlado Dimovski, head of the SI4CARE project at the University of Ljubljana.

New services and activities

As part of the nearly three-year long project that is wrapping up in May, 13 pilot projects were successfully tested, a transnational strategy for ageing and eight action plans have been drafted.

Slovenia has implemented four pilot projects as part of SI4CARE. It opened a unit for residents with dementia to promote activity, improved access to integrated long-term care, developed a mobile app to manage heart failure, and created a system for personalised exercise based on biomechanical measurements.

With the support of the project partners, the University of Ljubljana has also set up a multidisciplinary research and development centre for social innovation for active and healthy ageing. The centre, which aims to become a European hub for active and healthy ageing, will promote an active and strategic approach to social development and tackle challenges such as the rapid ageing of population by bringing together experts from different fields.

The project has seen great support internationally. The European Commission considers it a good example of creating an effective and functioning social innovation ecosystem.

Slovenian MEP Romana Tomc expressed her support for the project and noted that Europe is facing many short-term crises, which means that long-term problems, like demography, are often left at the sidelines. The European institutions are aware of this and are addressing the problem, she said.


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