MoPAct (Mobilising the Potential of Active Ageing in Europe) is a four year project funded by the European Commission that is now in its final stages. At the third and final stakeholder forum in Vienna on 15th March 2016, the project partners presented their preliminary findings and invited stakeholders including the European Social Network (ESN) to provide feedback and suggest next steps.
Wide range of aspects of active ageing
The project has undertaken a comprehensive review of the social and economic challenges of ageing and the opportunities of active ageing policies and activities. In addition to academic research on a variety of aspects of active ageing, the project has also collected and analysed examples of social innovation and policy, and involved key stakeholders across Europe. From new gerontological research on the importance of diet and exercise to healthy ageing, to extending working lives, to an analysis of choice structures in pension policies, the project has covered an ambitious range of issues.
Healthy life expectancy and social participation
In previous consultations of the MoPAct project, ESN had contributed to the two themes of health and wellbeing, and social support and long-term care. The first theme focussed on ways to increase healthy life expectancy and social participation of older people. The research found that social participation has only a marginal impact on healthy life expectancy, therefore policy should find alternative ways to raise the latter, while recognising the overall social and psychological benefits of social participation.
Long-term care – many challenges, many opportunities
Whilst some EU Member States have well-developed long-term care systems, others are still in the process of developing these and have not yet achieved universal access and adequate quality. Person-centred, community-based long-term care models are an essential building block of active ageing. Yet, lack of funding, recruitment and retention issues, and a lack of coordination between policy areas and organisations, remain major challenges for local authorities to provide these. The Buurtzorg model of home care provision in the community in the Netherlands has proven to be a very good example of establishing autonomous multi-disciplinary local teams. Technological innovations, particularly in the area of telehealth and telecare, also have a huge potential to support older people’s independence and self-management, thereby enabling them to stay at home for longer.
Inclusive involvement of older people
As ESN emphasised in the roundtable discussions, public social services play a key role in enabling active ageing, particularly to make sure that disadvantaged older people, particularly those of low socio-economic status, those living in rural areas, and those suffering from dementia or other major chronic illnesses, are included in schemes and programmes that promote active ageing. We regard initiatives that promote the involvement of older people in policy-making and implementation as very positive. At the same time, involving and supporting informal and family carers is crucial for policy-makers as well as municipalities and social services providers.
More information about the MoPAct project and its research findings can be found here.