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Acronym HELPS means Housing and Home-care for the Elderly and Local Partnership Strategies in Central European cities.

Grant project supported by the European Regional Development Fund.

Programme: Active ageing in the CENTRAL EUROPE

  • Priority 4: Enhancing competitiveness and attractiveness of cities and regions.
    • Area of Intervention 2: Addressing the territorial effects of demographic and social change on urban and regional development.
      • Concept 6: Innovative housing and care solutions for the elderly and vulnerable persons in Central European cities.

 Duration: October 2011 – September 2014


  • development of strategies and practices that aim at improvement of the quality of life of seniors and people with disabilities in urban areas of Central Europe;
  • specifically: development and consolidation of innovative housing and care solutions through models of participation of different types of stakeholders.

The overall objective of the project is to foster innovative housing and care solutions for elderly and vulnerable people (younger and older) with a view to increase their autonomy. These actions may refer to management solutions in integrative housing, the participation of the elderly and vulnerable groups in the coordination of relevant stakeholders, etc. In territorial terms the interventions refer to the immediate residential and neighbourhood level of these groups.

The project promotes a strategy of policy integration and innovative interventions articulated on three intertwined levels:

  1. the individual and the environment;
    • planning and realization of living spaces and urban infrastructures that are accessible for and adapted to all, in particular to the elderly but not only, through new technologies able to reduce spatial isolation.
  2. the individual and society;
    • delivery of quality care services and decrease in social segregation of vulnerable groups through social and community networks at neighbourhood level able to involve different stakeholders.
  3. the individual and the public services;
    • enhancement of social cohesion and financial sustainability of services through new models for the organization and management of both public and private resources allocated for the care of vulnerable groups.

Target groups

  • Elderly - over 65. Elderly with age-related disability; with low income; living alone; gender aware approach.
  • People with disabilities. According to the UN Convention, people with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.
  • Formal/informal caregivers. Families caring of elderly/disabled relatives, in a gender aware approach.
  • Public authorities. At national, regional, local level, competent in housing and health/social policies.
  • Interest groups. NGOs, advocacy associations, trade unions, housing cooperatives, European networks.
  • Profit organizations. Healthcare/social service providers, real estate companies, planning/design agencies, regional innovation agencies.
  • RTD institutes. Universities, RTD facilities, technology transfer institutions.

 Common Challenges

  1. The access to information to overcoming practical obstacles preventing from leading healthy and active lives within the chosen living environment.
  2. The application of accessibility criteria in urban planning and housing design to reducing spatial segregation and facilitating life at home for all.
  3. The empowerment of human resources dedicated to in/formal homecare.
  4. The cross-cutting contribution of ICT to the individual autonomy, considered both in terms of wider access to technology and market potential.
  5. The involvement of local neighborhood communities in the development of forms of social citizenship to reconstructing social links based on reciprocity and solidarity.
  6. The sustainability and efficiency of care systems.

Expected outcomes

  • More and better organized and managed housing solutions in order to help the elderly and vulnerable groups to maintain their autonomy and to retard the need for “institutional help”.
  • Overcome hurdles (administrative, transport, social) which limit the autonomy of elderly and vulnerable groups by promoting complex and integrated approaches (involving more sectors, administrative levels, etc.).
  • Better re-integration of elderly and vulnerable population groups into daily life by using integrated ICT based solutions (e.g. Ambient Assisted Living technologies and services, social networking technologies, etc.).
  • Better standards for tailor-made housing and care solutions for elderly people and vulnerable groups with a view to increase the self-determination and autonomy of these groups.
  • Improved cooperation of relevant stakeholders in order to promote innovative solutions in care and housing solutions and to decrease functional and spatial separation of different age groups in urban areas both in planning as well as in daily life.
  • More targeted services based (e.g. based on neighbourly help) to support elderly and vulnerable people in living in their own homes. Improved and reviewed practices and services with a more coherent attempt to tackle vulnerability.
  • Stronger networks and structures for the coordination between planning, housing and health care services for the elderly and vulnerable groups by benchmarking among the policies carried by participating institutions.

Sustainability of the outcomes

Demographic change has far reaching implications for our societies and economies. The implementation of strategies, programmes and projects provides a more differentiated picture of the implications of demographic change and the challenges cities and regions face. Taking ageing and shrinking together, demographic change will generally be stronger in future (2004-2030) than it was in the past (1990-2004).

Financial sustainability is ensured through a needs-driven and efficient provision of services/solutions for the targeted population group, avoiding over-institutionalisations and fostering self-help and autonomy.

The innovativeness of the piloted solutions linked with the mainstreaming activities for the most successful outcomes will ensure sustainability of the adopted solutions and procedures.

Considering institutional and political sustainability, the ownership through stakeholders and the diffusion and assumed long term demand for similar actions will ensure sustainable structures.