Since November 2022, Senior Eco-Nect has been holding workshops on several topics with the aim to identify best practices in various areas of the silver economy. The first workshop was held on the 7th of November 2023 and was dedicated to “Scoping Emergence & Interconnectivity in Silver Economy Ecosystems”, the 2nd workshop was about “Active Ageing through Sport and Accessible Tourism” and took place on the 12th of December 2022. The 3rd one, organized on the 24th of January 2023, was about “Stakeholders and Ecosystems”. Finally, the last one was held on the 25th of April 2023 and the topics were “Ageing at home and Nutrition for the seniors”.
November 7th, 2022, “Scoping Emergence & Interconnectivity in Silver Economy Ecosystems”
The Hincks Centre for Entrepreneurship Excellence, from Munster Technological University (MTU) Ireland hosted the first Senior EcoNect project working group online. The aim of the meeting was to explore and discuss the silver economic ecosystems, as a starting point for the Senior EcoNect project to develop a Joint Policy Action Plan. Dr Helen McGuirk, Dr Sarah Davis and Dr Aisling ConwayLenihan from the Hincks Centre team moderated this online session. The team were delighted to welcome colleagues from the HexSpo group in MTU, as well as associate partners from the Southern Regional Assembly, alongside other interested stakeholders.
Head of the Hincks Centre and partner on the project, Dr Helen McGuirk opened the meeting and welcomed the participants. Following a ‘Céad Míle Fáilte’, an overview of the overall Senior EcoNect aims were presented. Jane O’Flynn, a Program Manager with the Health Innovation Hub Ireland (HIHI) presented an excellent case study of how and when the HIHI developed. This was followed by online breakout rooms where participants were invited to discuss how the project can influence policy to maximise the development of a diverse and sustainable silver economy and ecosystem.
Given the main project output (Joint Action Plan for silver economy) this event focused on the policy perspective and posed two key questions to participants:
- How do we know that a silver sector is emerging in our region and what types of policies can support and maximise the benefits of a diverse silver economy?
- What are the current problems in linking (interconnecting) senior ecosystems outside of health in the silver economy and what policies can better support silver economic sector interconnectivity?
Summary of discussions: key policy actions related to the importance of awareness raising, the value of older people’s knowledge, and the potential value of a vibrant diverse silver economy ecosystem. A focus on the cost savings that can be generated thought healthy ageing promotion may also be a key driver for health ecosystems that is not as readily leveraged for other economic sectors.
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December 12th, 2022, “Active Ageing through Sport and Accessible Tourism”
- Identified the potential of sports activities in promoting active ageing, improving physical and mental well-being, and fostering social interaction among seniors.
- Explored innovative sports programs and technologies tailored to the specific needs and preferences of older adults.
- Discussed the importance of collaboration between sports organizations, healthcare providers, and senior associations to develop inclusive and age-friendly sport initiatives.
- Highlighted the potential for intergenerational sports activities to promote social cohesion and understanding.
- Proposed the establishment of a task force to explore funding opportunities, share successful initiatives, and promote the adoption of inclusive sports programs across different regions.
Coordination Among Networks – Silver Economy:
- Recognized the importance of coordination and collaboration among networks to leverage the potential of the Silver Economy.
- Explored ways to facilitate knowledge sharing, resource pooling, and partnership building among stakeholders from different sectors.
- Discussed the role of platforms, clusters, and innovation hubs in fostering cross-sectoral collaborations and driving innovation in the Silver Economy.
- Highlighted the need for the active involvement of seniors and advocacy organizations in decision-making processes related to the Silver Economy.
- Proposed the establishment of a collaborative platform or network to facilitate ongoing coordination, exchange of ideas, and joint initiatives in the Silver Economy domain.
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January 24th, 2023, “Stakeholders and Ecosystems”
During this workshop, led by the partners Eurasante and CSG ,key points in the creation and animation of ecosystems and the involvement and added-value for stakeholders were discussed. Inputs from participants were key in the preparation of a joint action plan, which will be implemented by Senior Eco-Nect partners.
All participants agreed stakeholders are the backbone of ecosystems and that these are generally representing the four helix: civil society, knowledge centers, industry and public administration/regulators. The roundtable held among different stakeholders (facilitators, users, solution providers, investors and policy makers) to discuss their expectations from the ecosystems they belong to, showed that a collaboration and understanding of the needs of the silver market is a must.
In public opinion, seniors are still predominantly perceived as the people to be cared about. Statistics for France give a very different picture: only 6% of people above 50 years are actually in a dependent state. During the decade 2015-2025 the seniors are expected to contribute even 50% to the global Gross Value Added growth, about 30% to growth of productivity, and 13% to overall employment. Actually, seniors are the most intensely growing segment of society – with highest potential for spending.
When defining the dimensions of the European Silver Economy the following figures say it all: we are referring to about 100 million people, and turnover of about 6 trillion € (in 2015 it was 3.7 trillion). According to the latest demographic forecasts, in Europe by 2060 the elderly will represent 1/3 of the total population.
Therefore, the Silver Economy is a major opportunity, however there are two major reasons for slow conscious development of Silver Economy:
(a) Only partial awareness of the implications of changed demography (intensive aging of society and economic potential of seniors);
(b) Regulatory environment and policies still not fully adjusted to specific needs of seniors. Only a few countries have government departments dedicated to seniors.
#SEN action plan should consider these concerns and remain flexible to be able to adapt to new needs from the silver population.
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April 25th, 2023, “Ageing at home and Nutrition for seniors”
The topic’s content of this workshop is based on the objective of ensuring quality ageing at home and includes all aspects of human living. Most elderly people associate ageing at home in a familiar and safe environment. As older people may acquire various age-related health conditions and access requirements, the design of adaptable housing foresees and allows adaptations which can easily be made, usually at low cost, at a later stage. We must support a sense of security as an important factor in ensuring a good life.
Following the initial presentation of the project goals of the Senior Eco-Nect, which aim to identify best practices in various areas of the silver economy and link them into an action plan for coordinated development in the wider European area, the participants, who come from very different areas of expertise, introduced themselves. Each speaker discussed their experiences in the field of caring for the elderly and the importance of proper nutrition.
The workshop was attended by experts and researchers in the field of care for the elderly:
- Staffan Karlsson, a professor of health sciences at the University of Kristianstad, Sweden, presented the Preventive Home Visits project, which develops a community based model of home visits, that helps prevent the risks of ageing at home – falling, malnutrition, poor physical health, pain, lack of sleep and impaired cognitive functions;
- Alizée Joseph Rose, from the French cluster Clubster NHL, presented HIPA, a project developing innovative housing for the elderly;
- Katerina Papamichail, an architect who, among other things, led the construction of the Olympic Village in Athens and is very active in the European institutions, presented the importance of accommodation adaptable housing for the elderly, while pointing out the lack of knowledge and education of architects, designers and planners regarding the access requirements and the needs of the elderly in an ageing society;
- Petra Medved, Expert Director for Nutrition at the Chamber of Agricultural and Food Companies, Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia, SRIP Healthy Nutrition, presented the strategic approach of SRIP in the field of nutrition principles for the elderly (https://prehrana.si/moja-prehrana/starejsi-odrasli) – sustainable production and processing of functional nutrition and technology for sustainable plant and animal nutrition;
- Ana Novak, project manager at CEP, presented the Interreg project D-Care Lab, which develops innovative approaches to home care;
- Anamarija Kejzar and Simon Colnar, from FDS and EF, presented the results of the ADRION project, SI4CARE, which focuses on the importance of nutrition in elderly people with dementia and the introduction of congruent care. They will provide advice on the development of strategic documents in the field of elderly care in collaboration with the Ministry.
The development of action plans for in-home care, with a focus on adequacy of living conditions and optimal nutrition for the elderly population, is essential and necessitates a strategic approach. The emergence of models, as well as the growth and efficiency of in-home care, has the potential to push individual policies in a direction that is also in solidarity with the elderly. All speakers emphasized the importance of additional training for a wide range of professionals, beginning with architects and builders and progressing to health and nursing personnel, institutional care, and food chains.