The European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing (EIP on AHA) is an initiative launched by the European Commission to foster innovation and digital transformation in the field of active and healthy ageing. Reference Sites [RS] are inspirational ecosystems, delivering creative and workable solutions which improve the lives and health of older people. These solutions can now be scaled-up and replicated across the EU.
The Sites are regions, cities, integrated hospitals or care organisations that focus on a comprehensive, innovation-based approach to active and healthy ageing. They offer concrete examples of their positive impact in this field. Reference Sites demonstrate synergies between different actions, breakthrough solutions within a short time frame, and the added value of taking a holistic approach. In the 2019 call for Reference Sites, “77 regional and local organizations were awarded this status […] committed to investing in innovation for active and healthy ageing and supporting the transfer and scaling-up of that innovation across Europe”(European Commission, 2019).
The Ministry of Health has renewed its candidacy as Reference Site Catalonia, coordinated by the Fundació TIC Salut Social in collaboration with IDIAPJGol –applied primary care research on behalf of the Institut Català de la Salut, among others – Eurecat – a technology centre – and the Universitat de Barcelona – a higher education and research centre.
Reference Site Catalonia is a hub which encompasses and represents the Catalan government, primary care, hospital care, the world of research and the business community committed to technological and innovative development in terms of health and social welfare, offering a person-centred, focused care model. Its members are very active in the care of diseases associated with ageing such as cardiovascular risks, cancer, metabolic and neurodegenerative diseases, mental health and prevention through diet and nutrition, among others. “RS Catalonia represents a networked model of active and healthy ageing which involves and engages various interest groups committed to the exploration of new, sustainable and scalable paradigms, contextualized within our sector and today’s digital society. Simultaneously it corresponds with shared values such as equity, quality and data security”.
RS Catalonia has received the maximum distinction of 4 stars. In addition, together with southern Denmark, Euskadi, Andalusia, HANNN and Scotland, it has been awarded a special recognition of excellence for its work and its involvement in the active ageing process while stimulating sustainable economic growth . Previously, RS Catalonia was coordinated by AQuAS, who has passed this role to the fundació TIC Salut Social for the call for RS. RS Catalonia is meeting the challenge of the gradual ageing of its population: in 2031, 1.8 million people will be aged over 65, representing 23% of the population. In 2051 this number is expected to grow to 2.4 million, 30.8% of the total. (IDESCAT, 2014).
Meanwhile, more positive news from elsewhere in Catalonia: the municipality of Badalona has also been recognised as a Reference Site. According to Pilar Otermin, manager of the BSA as a coordinating centre, “receiving this recognition from the European Commission encourages us to continue to move forward in evolving Badalona’s active and healthy ageing model. Badalona Servicios Asistenciales [Badalona Health Services] (BSA) is an integrated health and social care organization which is committed to a model involving the participation of the entire ecosystem, which allows us to meet the challenges facing the city with respect to ageing in an accessible, effective way”. She went on to say that “the elderly community needs preferential care from public institutions. It is a challenge which we must face together. In addition, it is crucial that we strengthen the foundations of an active and healthy ageing model for future generations”. The mayor of Badalona welcomed the award: “As mayor, I am enormously proud to be able to receive such a prominent distinction from the European Commission on behalf of our city This recognition will make Badalona a leader in active and healthy ageing for other cities and countries and expand our relationships and projects in this area. Without doubt, the award belongs to all the entities, organisations, research institutions, companies and council departments which are closely involved in improving the quality of life of our elderly. The city is grateful to you all for your hard work”.
Finally, we at the Fundació TIC Salut would like to stress the importance of Reference Sites as engines of change management and as places in which to exchange knowledge and create new synergies to offer society the results of all the work which has been carried out. Aside from the individual distinctions and scores obtained, we would like to congratulate all the European regions for their dedication and hard work in the context of the EIP on AHA Reference Sites.
IDESCAT (2014). Projeccions de Població 2013-2051. [Population projections 2013-2051].
European Commission. (2019). European International Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing: 77 Regional and local organizations are awarded Reference Site status – Results from the 2019 Call for Reference Sites. Accessed on 25 September 2019 at https://ec.europa.eu/eip/ageing/news/77-regional-and-local-organisations-are-awarded-reference-site-status-results-2019-call_en
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