/ novembre 1, 2019

Cáritas Coimbra was once again very active in the 2019 edition of the AAL Forum, an event that brought together around 700 participants in Aarhus, Denmark, to discuss the themes of the AAL (Active and Assisted Living) Program. As in 2018, Cáritas Coimbra was a member of the AAL Forum Organizing Committee, participating as a speaker in interactive workshops and as a partner in ongoing project meetings and the Lean Academy.


Cáritas Coimbra was present at the official launch of the EU_SHAFE (Europe Enabling Smart Healthy Age-Friendly Environments) project, which took place in Aarhus, Denmark, on September 23rd, during the AAL Forum 2019. This project is co-financed by INTERREG Europe and led by the Municipality of Bizkaia.

Cáritas Coimbra is one of the 10 partners of the EU_SHAFE project. This project aims to improve policies and practices in 7 European regions by developing a comprehensive approach to Healthy, Intelligent and Friendly Environments (SHAFE).

At the kick-off meeting all partners, from 7 different EU countries, had the opportunity to jointly define the project’s mission and operational plan.

The consortium also worked to highlight the project’s objectives, present its roles, responsibilities and plans for meeting the goals. It is composed by leading organizations in demographic change and environmentally friendly areas, including the top five regional organizations committed to invest in innovation for active and healthy ageing, awarded with the Reference Sites status.

The meeting proved to be very productive for the partners that, guided by the Project Coordinator (Bizkaia Municipality), had the opportunity to study the best way to align and influence the regional policy instruments that include the Smart, Healthy, Age-Friendly Environments (SHAFE).

Throughout the day, the planning of the first twelve months of activities was developed, highlighting the identification of key processes. This sharing has enabled European regions to understand how to adopt best practices according to their needs in order to improve multilevel policy instruments aimed at making cities and communities age-friendly.


As part of a joint mission to support the digital transformation of ageing and care and resulting from a fantastic collaboration between the Active and Assisted Living Program (AAL) and the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing (EIP-AHA), the 2019 EIP Partner Conference was held in conjunction with this year’s AAL Forum in the fabulous city of Aarhus.

The work of the Action Groups and the Collaborative Network of EIP-AHA Reference Sites began at a conference bringing them together to discuss the guidelines and action plans already implemented and to outline future actions, as well as reviewing alignment with the policies of the European Commission.Cáritas Coimbra participated in the conference, represented by Carina Dantas, as Group D4 Coordinator – Agefriendly Environments and as a core member of the Ageing@Coimbra Consortium, Reference Site 4 stars.


On the first day of the AAL Forum, Natália Machado, Cáritas Coimbra’s Project Manager, participated in AAL2business – The lean approach (the first of 3 workshops at AAL Lean Startup Academy). This session intended to provide different tools to participants, through theories and methodologies, to enable them to develop or improve the AAL Business Plan that they represent. Natália Machado took the opportunity to work on the exploration strategy of DAPAS, a project in which Cáritas Coimbra participates. This project brings together successful AAL solutions, combined in a single product, which may be distributed on a larger scale to improve the quality of life of their elder customers.


Also on the first day of the Forum, Carina Dantas, Cáritas Coimbra’s Innovation Department Director, was present at Workshop 3 “Building an eco-system approach for ‘ageing well in a digital Europe’ (AAL Programme)”. This workshop had an interesting and dynamic format called “open fishbowl”, with chairs in the centre of the room representing a maximum of five people: a young person, an older person, two people with experience in the ecosystem whether hospital, residential or community and an empty chair occupied by people in a rotating dynamic.

In an event that brings together different stakeholders from various sectors, the aim of approaching an ecosystem is for organizations to start working and interacting with each other in order to evolve and adapt to new contexts and to their surroundings. This is the motto for involving all actors in a system and not just stakeholders and understanding their relationships and dynamics.

This session provided elements and processes that promote the construction of the prototype of a quality ageing ecosystem that can be adapted and applied by all. Cases of existing ageing networks (home, community, care and work environment) were presented to illustrate the current challenges that require a new approach and thereby adjust the future offer of targeted services.

In a second moment of the workshop, the challenge was launched for participants: to take additional measures and continue the prototype ecosystem development process, creating a space for innovation and learning where it was possible to standardize and perfect a solution that could be developed and implemented by all. Therefore, the session aimed to introduce and promote the proposal being developed by AAL for a future European partnership program that introduces an ecosystem approach to quality ageing.


On September 24st, Cáritas Coimbra was a keynote speaker at Workshop 8 “Smart Healthy Age-Friendly Environments (SHAFE) and the Blueprint for Digital Transformation of Health and Care”, an action that received extremely positive receptivity. The room occupied by about 120 people exceeded the capacity to attend the AAL joint session with the European Innovation Partnership for Active and Healthy Ageing (EIP-AHA) which was organized by the Stakeholders Network SHAFE, coordinated by Carina Dantas (Cáritas Coimbra) and Willeke van Staalduinen (AFEdemy).

Workshop 8 provided a summary of the SHAFE Joint Statement and a summary of SHAFE’s next steps towards achieving smart and age-friendly accessible environments. Cáritas Coimbra and AFEdemy are the coordinators of SHAFE, a network approved by the European Commission under the theme Smart Healthy Age-Friendly Environment. This Network involves 10 major European networks and more than 160 organizations from across Europe as partners bringing input, comment and support from hundreds of stakeholders. SHAFE’s specific objective is to align technology development with the construction industry in terms of policies and financing in order to make smart, affordable and large-scale homes available in Europe

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. This broad adoption may be the cornerstone of a more efficient healthcare system that delivers better quality for less investment, in line with the Digital Single Market strategy.


On the last day of the AAL Forum, September 25st, Cáritas Coimbra participated as a speaker in 2 sessions. In the morning it was at Workshop 17 “How do we attract big private & public buyers to AAL solutions?”. Ana Luísa Jegundo, from Innovation Department, representing Cáritas Coimbra, shared her experience on the challenges and opportunities that participation in AAL projects entails in discussing business models to make them work, despite the challenges of global solutions. Topics such as “the importance of involving end users in the process of co-creating AAL solutions, from requirements gathering to final product entry into the market”, “the need to adapt national and European public policies that support the integration of innovation through social and health services, as stakeholders facilitating the introduction of technologies in the daily life of the community” or “the importance of working financing opportunities involving public investment and private, so that technologies can remain attractive and interesting in the marketplace at the end of the project” were discussed in this session.


Cáritas Coimbra’s participation in the AAL Forum ended with Workshop 29 “Ethics, data and privacy protection: who will take responsibility and how we proceed to a common framework for IT-AHA in Europe?”, represented by Carina Dantas as speaker and Ana Luísa Jegundo as the facilitator of one of the round tables.

This session was intended to spark discussions on how to ensure that older people – mostly non-tech users – who use non-medical technology solutions are “secure” with regard to data and privacy. It is essential to raise awareness so that people can make “safe” choices themselves, but European-level policy-making in the ethical framework is also essential to protect them. How to reach both sides of the same coin was the goal discussed by more than 60 workshop participants.

Elisa Irlandese (DG CNCY, European Commission) moderated the session and the initial speakers continued to introduce the topic. Ellen Steenmeijer and Stephanie Koenderink presented the end-user perspective and Carina Dantas introduced the need for European policy-making. There was room for 45 minutes of group work that ended with a participatory discussion, bringing together end users and SMEs and 3 AAL/H2020 projects, including SmartworkDAPAS and Toilet4me. In addition to the work in the area of ethics and data, protection that comes from previous project experiences, Cáritas Coimbra has already developed some articles that refer to the main challenges to address methodologies for ethical evaluation in projects or ethical issues arising from the use of new technologies by older people in the workplace. Problems such as flexible working hours, the ability to work at home, the transparency of data being shared and how it is being stored were some of the topics discussed in the roundtable discussion.

The main results of the discussions defined that in end-user awareness the issue of data sharing is also a matter of trust. In some countries, it is difficult for public authorities/administration to collect reliable data because citizens do not trust stakeholders. Local public authorities should play a role in disseminating the ethics, data protection and privacy laws of each community in order to keep society informed and secure.

The central discussion about creating a European Ethical Framework for non-medical devices reflected in the fact that there is still an unregulated market for many digital solutions that work with personal data and challenge ethical issues. The topic has captured the attention and interest of both the European Commission representative and two AAL Program representatives who have expressed their interest in continuing this issue within their organizations.

The theme of this workshop has given rise to very interesting discussions between end-user organizations, SMEs, project promoters, researchers and engineers. After the allotted time, the discussion was not over yet and this seemed to be the most talked about topic in this 2019 AAL Forum. It is expected to be a topic yet to be discussed in the next Forum.


The 2019 AAL Forum ended with the award of the European Reference Sites Awards. The EIP-AHA Reference Sites are inspiring ecosystems that provide creative and viable solutions for improving the lives and health of older people. Sites are regions that include municipalities, hospitals, universities, businesses and civil society organizations in a consortium with a comprehensive, innovation-based approach to active and healthy aging. The strength of this community is mutual learning and the exchange of synergies, which
make it possible to improve their own regional systems.

Cáritas Coimbra is a member of Ageing@Coimbra, a consortium whose main objective is to improve the lives of older citizens, in the Central Region of Portugal, through better social services and health care, as well as the creation of new and innovative products and services and the development of new diagnostic and therapeutic means.

In the 2019 contest, 77 regional and local organizations received Reference Site status as leading regional organizations committed to investing in innovation for active and healthy ageing and supporting the transfer and expansion of this innovation across Europe. Ageing@Coimbra, in addition to having received this status, has been recognized by the European Commission as a Top Rated Reference Sites (4 stars).

AAL Forum is an annual conference that presents the latest technological advances in population ageing, from robots and games to applications and sensors, products that focus on quality of life, greater independence, socialization and sustainability of the social and health system. It brings together, on a single occasion, participants who develop the technology, those who use it and those who invest in it, making it one of the largest and most important European events in the area. Cáritas Coimbra also had the excellent opportunity to meet with several partners of its ongoing projects that were on display or to participate in this Forum, such as the case of the Pedro Nunes Institute and partners of the projects LIFEBOTSDAPASSmartwork and also of EU_SHAFE, whose kick-off meeting was also held in Aarhus.

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