The Initiative aims at preventing loneliness of Elderly people aged over 85 through the creation of a community network of sentinels
The project is an initiative promoted by the volunteers of the Municipal Elderly Commission of Casarsa della Delizia. The Municipality of Casarsa della Delizia has a growing number of oldest – old (+85) living without family and asking for inclusion and participation in community life. The main goal of the Initiative is strengthening the response to the specific needs of the elderly at greater risk of social exclusion, in particular to those situations characterized by weak primary network, conditions of progressive disengagement and loss of economic and relational role. The core of the initiative is the creation of a STRONG social network supporting elderly persons living alone. Nodes of the social network are: Volunteers, General Practitioners, Social and health operators, Pharmacists, Vicar, Tradesman, Associations, Social cooperatives. Some of these actors assume the role of Sentinels entrusted with the task of monitoring the situation of the elderly. They act as social animators boosting social solidarity. The project is led by a "Steering Group", organized by volunteers and encompassing a Professional Social Assistant. This group meets once a month. and defines the intervention methodology that envisages the following steps: 1. first contact, 2.an "active" volunteer is identified to monitor the elderly, 3. Volunteers and social assistant define the proposal of personalized project, 4. other community resources are activated, depending on the specific situation.
There is no specific regional funding, the Municipality of Casarsa della Delizia pays for communication and sensitization activities while Volunteers develop the activities during the month in their free time(timebanking solution). The traders sponsor the creation of the newspaper "Zent di Paìs".
Evidence of success
Thanks to the project, it has been possible for a minority, made by elderly and lonely persons (potentially with the need for assistance and at high risk of marginalization), to emerge from silence.
To date: 52 elderly and alone persons identified and monitored; 25/30 active sentinels; 15/17 volunteers constitute the “steering Group”; 25 people (on average) participate in the information meetings activated by the project;
6 "rescues" of elderly people alone in 2018 and 5 in 2019.
The main challenge encountered is related to the adoption of the model on a large scale. Lesson learned: a successful health and care policy is based on the requirement for policy makers to involve end users and community to share with them the co responsibility for the innovation strategy.
Potential for learning or transfer
This practice is potentially interesting for other regions because it is a button up practice based on the real needs of the population and demonstrating that the activation of the community is the answer to the problem of loneliness. In this practice, we pass from user centered innovation to innovation with the end users (LIVING LAB approach) to improve the delivery of social services. The elderly are the beneficiaries of the activity, but also the volunteers acting for the monitoring of detecting cases of loneliness, private enterprises support the sensitization, while public authorities, through social and health operators, ensure the governance. As regards "savings" for the Public Authority we can notice that the insertions in protected structure have decreased, less hospitalization and increase of the elderly who are enabled to remain to their domicile thanks to the network created. The Steering group developed a specific methodology for the implementation of the Initiative.