The European project SmartCare is currently testing, in different regions, an ICT-enabled system of integrated care – i.e. coordination between health care and social care and services. Together with partners representing the different actors involved, AGE made its first visit to the system developed in Barbastro, Spain, in order to check to what extent the system improves the lives of older people and the quality of the care delivered.
Within the framework of this project, the Users’ Advisory board (UAB), a body representing older people, patients, nurses, carers and insurances, met and visited the services deployed in the pilot region of Aragon, Spain.
In Barbastro, professionals and volunteers work together to deliver integrated health and social care including preventive actions. They use specific devices to feed information into a common online platform supporting a coordinated approach to care. The visitors had the chance to meet older people in their homes in order to know how the new service is changing the care they receive and to what extent it improves their quality of life. They could also see how the volunteers of the Red Cross visit older people in order to monitor their vital signs as well as their social situation, information that is shared in real time with other social and health care services.
The visit also included a rich discussion with the other actors involved, notably health care professionals – nurses, doctors – as well as professionals from the social services – the Alzheimer Association, and the hospital social worker. The discussion allowed the Users’ Advisory Board (UAB) to get to know in detail how integrated care in the framework of the SmartCare project is improving their way of working, the quality of the care they deliver to older people as well as the adherence to treatments through more frequent and systematic follow-up of their social situation and their health. The visit ended with a meeting of the UAB to discuss the information and impressions gathered during the day.
This very enriching visit, which will be reflected in individual reports as well as in a general summary, is the first of a series of visits to the different regions that take part as part of SmartCare. In 2015 the Users’ Advisory Board will have the chance to continue to observe and understand the challenges facing the implementation of good integrated care as well as the benefits it can bring both to older people and social and health care professionals.