Organiser: Independent Living Association (Asociación para la Vida Independiente – AVI)

Collaborating organisation: Ramon Molinas Foundation.

Dates of implementation: 01/01/2019 – 31/12/2019.

 

Improving quality of life and autonomy of elderly people with dependency, a disability, or socioeconomic vulnerability

The Ramon Molinas Foundation is collaborating with the Independent Living Association (AVI) with the aim of improving quality of life and promoting the autonomy of elderly people with dependency, a disability, or socioeconomic vulnerability. The initiative, launched in the city of Barcelona, conducts a thorough assessment of each patient and collates information from their local health clinic, on their psychological state and the environment in which they live to create a personalised solution.

The beneficiaries of the scheme are elderly people, the majority of which have been referred by the Barcelona town council’s social services, are not able to carry out basic, everyday activities by themselves, from low income backgrounds and require immediate help. The initiative, which will help 50 people over the year 2019 and works in collaboration with other organisations and institutions, prescribes and provides assistive devices and carries out modifications to the homes of vulnerable elderly people. Aside from improving the quality of life and promoting autonomy in the elderly, the programme allows them to live in safety and with dignity in their own home.

 

Prescribing assistive devices and carrying out home adaptions

After being referred by Barcelona town council’s social services, the Independent Living Association makes the first call and collects information on the needs and limitations of the user on a day-to-day basis. Next, a visit is organised to the Independent Living Centre (CVI) in Barcelona, where staff can show, explain and asses the assistive devices most suitable for mobility, basic everyday activities, communication and safety. The assistive devices are especially created to promote autonomy in elderly people with physical limitations and to make easier the tasks carried out by care workers and caregivers.

Once the visit has finished, a meeting is organised at the user’s home to analyse the suitability of the recommended assistive devices and to estimate what home modifications might be necessary to remove the architectural barriers to personal autonomy in carrying out daily tasks. This part of the scheme is more complex, takes a long time to complete, and comes at a high cost.

To carry out home adaptions and modifications, the Independent Living Association has a team of professional experts that evaluate every beneficiary of the scheme to ensure that the changes made are personalised to suit the needs of the elderly person and their family. The team are trained in different specialities: physiotherapists, speech therapists, pedagogues, occupational therapists, social workers and architects that make sure that the modifications are suitable functionally and constructively. In addition, the organisation processes the administrative requirements and takes charge of contracting the construction companies that will carry out the reforms. Lastly, professionals at the Independent Living Association train the scheme’s beneficiaries about the assistive devices that have been provided, and monitor how they are getting on with the new technology.

 

Responding to current needs with an eye on future demographic changes

A study by the United States Census Bureau, an institution that aims to provide quality data on the population and economy, warned of the increase in the segment of people over 65 years old worldwide.  In 2012, when the population of the world reached seven billion people, 562 million people (8%) were over 85 years old. Three years later, in 2015, this segment of the population grew to 55 million people, reaching 8.5% of all humans on the planet. With the drop in birth rate, the increase in life expectancy and the population pyramid, the agency predicts that the network of people over 65 years old will make up 16% of the world’s population in 2050. Special attention needs to be paid to Europe, where this percentage will be 27.8% of the total population.

In the same vein, the Institute of Economic Studies reported that Spain has the third highest number of people over 80 years old of all countries in the European Union, after Italy and Greece. The publication, created using the data from Population: Structure Indicators, by Eurostat, revealed that the average number of inhabitants over this age range had gone from 3.5% in 2001 to 5.1% in 2014. According to the projections taken from figures by the European Statistics, the percentage could reach 12.3% in the year 2080.

The references above suggest that society is facing a demographic change, and that it is integral that action is taken in the areas of housing, social integration and the wellbeing of older people. Maintaining autonomy and independence is the objective of active aging. According to the World Health Organisation (OMS), active aging is the process of optimising opportunities in health, participation and safety with the aim of improving quality of life as people get older.

Functional Independence is highly linked to quality of life. Dependency develops with the onset and worsening of limitations in performing basic activities in daily life. In Spain, 24.31% of elderly people are not able to carry out these types of activities, according to the Disability, Personal Autonomy and Dependency Study carried out by the National Institution of Statistics (INE) in 2008. In Catalonia, the percentage of older people with a disability in basic daily activities is 20.73%. As for Barcelona, according to 2016 data from Catalan government’s Department of Work, Social Affairs and Families, there is a total of 66,566 people over 65 years old with disabilities.

 

The Independent Living Association, an organisation launched in 2007 with the intention of promoting the use of assistive devices and technology

The Independent Living Association is a non-profit organisation created in 2007 by Mutual Médica and Mutuam to promote the use of assistive products and technology with the aim of improving the quality of life and autonomy of elderly people, people with disabilities or people with dependency.

The organisation was founded in 2008 in the Centre for Independent Living with the aim of carrying out its mission and becoming a thought leader in the promotion of personal autonomy in Catalonia. The facilities, located in Barcelona, is made up of three areas. The Living Area reproduces the environment of a household to advise users and offer assistive devices and technology within the framework of accessible digital housing. Secondly, the Personalised Care Area provides care focused on the needs of each user. Lastly, the centre’s Research and Services Area develops research programmes on assistance and support.

 

Links of interest:

Independent Living Association website.