Practice & Policy Repository

Reducing Old-Age Social Exclusion through Collaborations in Research and Policy CA15122

Combating Economic & Service Exclusion

Digital inclusion of older people in access to public services (France)
This research project concerns the adaptation of society to new technologies and more particularly the ongoing digital transition within public services in France. In this context, it is important to take into account the impact on older people and particularly those older people who experience social or economic exclusion and who may not be able to access services. The research will address several issues such as access to social rights, territorial inequalities, the adaptation of seniors (skills, equipment, etc.) and the necessary and mobilizable support. Using a methodology of semi-directive interviews with older service users, professionals within public services and policy makers, the research will address the consequences of the dematerialization of public service for the social relations of older people, the role that non-governmental organisations can play in accompanying older people in the digital transition, and the non-take up of services and social rights. The project is innovative in so far as it is the first of its kind in France to integrate the perspectives of older users, their families, the voluntary sector and policy makers so as to provide feasible solutions to reduce exclusion linked to the digital divide.

Combating Community/spatial and Civic aspects of exclusion

Touchstone (Ireland)
Touchstone is an adult-learning programme aimed at promoting the civic engagement of older people. It was piloted and developed in Galway, Ireland. The Touchstone programme is outlined in a Guide aimed at supporting the priorities related to the promotion and support of civic engagement outlined in recent public policy in Ireland, including in the Department of Health’s (2013) National Positive Ageing Strategy and Healthy Ireland and the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government’s (2012) Putting People First. Touchstone supports the aim of Age Friendly Ireland to build the capacity of older people to play a meaningful role in developing age-friendly communities, thus addressing risks of spatial forms of social exclusion in later life. The Touchstone Guide has two parts. Part One provides a practical guide to the programme, including facilitators’ notes and session handouts. Part Two presents a detailed account of the development and evaluation of the pilot programme. Findings outline the experience of programme participants in civic engagement activities prior to joining Touchstone, their views of the Touchstone programme, and the reported impact the programme has had on their plans for civic engagement in the future. Details at:

Combating Multiple areas of Exclusion

Eurodiaconia members’ work on social inclusion in urban areas (Corss national)
This new mapping provides an overview of the work done on social inclusion in urban areas of Eurodiaconia members in six countries: Ukraine, Finland, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden and the UK. The report brings attention to the specific topics on which Eurodiaconia members are active in their work on urban areas, the groups of people targeted and reached through social inclusion measures in urban areas, as well as providing examples on successful or innovative projects. The most relevant areas of work outlined among Eurodiaconia members surveyed was unemployment, poverty, violence against women, homelessness, addiction, and loneliness. Work is also being carried out among some of the Eurodiaconia members surveyed in the area of political radicalisation prevention through social inclusion. The extensive work of Eurodiaconia members in urban areas demonstrates that civil society and diaconal organisations have a fundamental role to play in fostering social cohesion among marginalized groups in an urban setting. This mapping therefore seeks to emphasise how social inclusion can be strengthened in urban areas, by mapping the types of work and activities being done across our network to improve the access to housing, employment and social services for the most vulnerable people in our societies. To know more about social inclusion in urban areas, please check our latest mapping.

Implementation of ageing policy on regional levels (Czech Republic)
The aim of the project is to integrate aging policies into the existing regional strategic and development documents and to support the implementation these agendas in practice. The output of the project will be a new strategic document for the years 2018-2022. Project activities promote positive aging and the development of senior policies at regional level. Furthermore, it supports the creation of conceptual documents of ageing policies at the regional levels. There are regional coordinators in each region, regional meetings of stakeholders representing various areas of expertise and area of practice are held periodically and followed by round table discussions with experts on different topics areas. These were set up by the open consultations with older people representatives at the beginning of the project.

The target group of the project are policy makers, but the ultimate beneficiaries are older people and their families. This platform brings stakeholders together with local/regional politicians, older people representatives and experts to talk about different policy measures. The platform defines and implements policies in close cooperation with local governments. The innovative aspect is the variety and scope of actors meeting and discussing periodically concrete measures and projects, equipping the local policy makers within given region, with consideration of the regional differences.

Combating Civic Aspects of Exclusion

Good Practice in Seniors’ Education (Austria)
While education and learning has shown to bring benefits to older adults’ quality of life and wellbeing, older adults still face significant difficulties in access to lifelong learning. To promote good practice examples of accessible and high-quality seniors’ education programs, this project evaluates seniors’ education programs in Austria. Programs are evaluated based on twelve dimensions of quality in seniors’ education. The top ten evaluated programs receive a seal of quality by the Austrian Ministry of Labor, Family and Social Affairs. This project aims to make programs for seniors in organizations of lifelong learning visible and to provide positive examples of how to address older adults in lifelong learning. Quality dimensions comprise, e.g. the critical reflection of images of ageing in an educational program, the addressing of diverse sub-groups of older adults and internal and external evaluation of the program.

The elderly for a better quality of life at home (Slovenia)
In 1995, retired professionals of the Slovenian Philanthropy and the Slovenian Federation of Pensioners’ Organizations started to develop a project on mutual assistance of the elderly so they could stay in home (residential) care as long as possible. The project in its present form was introduced in 2004. In 2017 the Slovenian Federation of Pensioners’ Organizations received the European Citizens’ Award for the aforementioned project from the European parliament.

Project goals:
– Recognize needs of older people that live at home;
– Find those that cannot or will not ask for assistance;
– Make a permanent contact with public services and non-governmental organizations (Red Cross, Caritas) and inform them on the needs, if the users agree;
– Organize assistance (services, workshops, visiting lonely people);
– Inform local communities on the quality of life and the needs of older people living at home;
– Establish control of the civil society over all providers of assistance at home.

Short description of the activities:
Volunteers from pensioners’ organizations often visit people aged over 69 that live in their local area, they record their needs and try to find assistance, if they agree. Assistance is provided by public institutions: social work centers and health care institutions, nursing services and local communities. Humanitarian help is provided by including the Red Cross and Caritas.

Socialization, interest groups and non-professional assistance (bringing groceries, transport to hospitals, gardening, reading, and regular visits) are provided by volunteers from pensioners’ organizations. Some organizations have several years of experience with including children in providing assistance for the elderly. Since 2006, networking of local elementary and secondary schools and pensioners’ organizations is organized in local communities where both groups provide mutual assistance.

From 2004 to 2017 885,000 visits were organized. 320,500 people received help and nearly eight million hours of volunteer work. The program focuses on the provision and assistance to the authorities to provide long-term care and services. Despite this fact, 86% of all necessary assistance (identified by the program) is carried out by social volunteers. Only the remaining 14% of assistance is provided by other stakeholders, such as patrons, social work centers, help organizations at home, local communities, Red Cross and Caritas. The program is also an important source of information for planning of social policies. By sheading the light on inter and intraregional differences in the density of the social problems the older people, the program also provides valuable diagnostics for policy makers.

ZDUS plus. 2017. Year X. Vol. 8-9. Accessible from: Http://Www.Zdus-Zveza.Si/File.Php?T=Zdusplus&Id=106 (14. 10. 2018) (In Slovene).
Drole, Janja and Lea Lebar (eds.). 2014. Support for Independent Living in Home Environment and Long Term Care: Analytical report of the WP5 of the project AHA.SI (Working version 1). Accessible from: (14. 10. 2018)

Later Life Audio and Radio Network (United Kingdom)
Responding to widespread digital exclusion of older people and an under-representation of older people’s voices in a digitalised media landscape, the Later Life Audio and Radio Network has emerged as a digital space to reduce older people’s exclusion from civic activities. Organised as a co-operative, and established in 2019, the Network’s members (from broadcasting, third sector and academia) engage with a variety of activities to champion the diversity of later life audio production. LLARN strives to put content produced by older adults in the limelight and celebrate radio as an innovative way for older adults to connect with their communities. To date, the Later Life Audio and Radio Network has been bringing together lots of different talk-based audio and radio shows created by older adults as playlists on Mixcloud. This has included topical recordings on COVID-19. The playlists are free to listen to and people of any age can tune in and enjoy the network’s wide variety of content. LLARN has developed an active Twitter profile @LLARNetwork.

Further information at:

Old age exclusion or silver age participation? (Greece)
“Read to me!” or Diavase mou is a volunteer team in Thessaloniki, Greece, working to connect people with great literature through Shared Reading. The team is there to bring books to life, creating welcoming environments to which personal feeling is recognized and valued, forming vital connections between people and literature through which everyone can feel more alive.

The primary way of doing this, is through a Shared Reading model, bringing people together in weekly groups to listen to stories and poems read aloud. The group leaders seek to create an atmosphere of lively collaboration which is best felt in the literature itself.

For five years now “Read to me!” holds Shared Reading groups for older people in Care Homes and at Leisure Centers for the elderly. These groups improve quality of life through cognitive stimulation, social interaction and meaningful engagement each week.

Οlder people taking part improve their mood as well as their levels of social interaction:

1.Make friends from the members of the group.
2.They go out together after the group, for coffee or for a meal.
3.Introvert people start expressing themselves.
4.They go back home and they read the story or the poem used in the group to their grandchildren.
5.They ask the readers for specific texts that concern their interests.
6.Some Reading groups have visited museums and exhibitions.
7.Those from the members who write, read aloud to the group their poems or stories.

Combating Social Relations and Service Exclusion

“Getting to know each other at meals” (Italy)
A new two-year programme was launched recently by AUSER (a nation-wide organisation promoting active ageing in Italy:, which is called “Getting to know each other at meals” The core aim of the project is to provide opportunities to older people at risk of loneliness and isolation to get to know new people and exchange experiences about eating behaviours. Co-funded by the Ministry of Work and Social Policies and carried out in eight Italian regions, the project uses the topic of “nutrition” as a means to stimulate socialising processes among older people at risk, by helping them to get out of involuntary loneliness and thus promoting also their psycho-physical health balance. Nutrition has been chosen since it represents a very important issue in the daily life of older Italians. The target population is represented by older people with lower income and educational status, who are more at risk in terms of social exclusion. The project is based on three main sub-tasks/phases: 1) identification of and contact with socially isolated older people in the involved areas, to assess their nutrition needs; 2) promotion of a campaign, together with public and private stakeholders, to disseminate correct nutritional habits; 3) experimenting new models of information/training in this field. In the Marche Region, for instance, this is taking place by involving the local hotel/restaurant training schools in events where older people at risks are invited to interact with students and experts, and to eat what the students prepare for them, or to teach students old recipes (thus it has also an intergenerational character).

‘Participatory group-based care management’ (Finland)
The ‘participatory group-based care management’ was carried out in group meetings. The intervention was designed to address the needs of older people living alone (in a private home) and experiencing some form of health or wellbeing challenges. The key elements of the intervention were: i) social support, ii) counseling, and iii) activities, where counseling refers to the promotive and preventive aspects of care management. During the six-month period, groups of 6–9 older persons attended five group meetings. Each group meeting lasted 2–3 hours and was facilitated by a care manager and a researcher. The participants were encouraged to meet independently between the facilitated group meetings and after the six-month intervention. The intervention covered costs for the activities and provided transportation for older people who were not able to participate in the group meetings by their own means. Effects of the intervention were studied in a mixed-method randomized control trial (intervention group n = 185, control group n = 207). Based on some evidence of small positive effects, the holistic and needs-based intervention may be beneficial in preventing exclusion from social relations and services, and civic exclusion (through increased institutional trust).